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The Long Path

Biddulph Grange is a National Trust landscaped gardens, in Biddulph near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. "Behind a gloomy Victorian shrubbery there's a gloomy Victorian mansion, but behind that lurks one of the most extraordinary gardens in Britain...it contains whole continents, including China and Ancient Egypt - not to mention Italian terraces and a Scottish glen." The "rhododendrons and azaleas are spectacular in late spring, but the pinetum and the evergreen topiary provide year-round interest. It's a fantastic garden for children, with its tunnels and rockeries, and there is a children's quiz trail."

The true brilliance of Biddulph Grange "lies in the way that Cooke and Bateman hid the different areas of the garden from each other, using heaps of rocks and thickly planted shrubberies' the design locks together as tightly as a jigsaw or a cross-section of the brain." It contains "a series of Italianate terraces, connected by steps and enclosing small flower gardens' at the bottom, long, buttressed hedges enclose a dahlia walk," In the Egyptian part of the garden, "Two sphinxes guard the mastaba-like entrance to a tunnel, whose darkness is an invitation to explore.

Biddulph Grange was developed by James Bateman (1811–1897), the accomplished horticulturist and landowner; he inherited money from his father, who had become rich from coal and steel businesses. He moved to Biddulph Grange around 1840, from nearby Knypersley Hall. He created the gardens with the aid of his friend and painter of seascapes Edward William Cooke. The gardens were meant to display specimens from Bateman's extensive and wide-ranging collection of plants. Biddulph Grange "started life as a bog-standard rectory, but around 1840 it was bought by James Bateman...he and his wife Maria had a passion for plants and the money to indulge their interests, and as the house was enlarged they began work on the surrounding gardens.

In this they were helped by an artist friend, Edward William Cooke, who was not just a keen designer but whose father-in-law owned one of the biggest plant nurseries of the day, Loddiges of Hackney." The gardens "were designed by James and Maria Bateman. Bateman...bought specimens brought back by the great Victorian plant-hunters and became an expert on orchids." Bateman was president of the North Staffordshire Field Society, and served on the Royal Horticultural Society's Plant Exploration Committee. The gardens "were meant to display specimens from Bateman's extensive and wide-ranging collection of plants." He especially loved Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Bateman was "a collector and scholar on orchids," He had a number of notable sons who grew up at Biddulph Grange, including the painter Robert Bateman.

His gardens are a rare survival of the interim period between the Capability Brown landscape garden and the High Victorian style. The gardens are compartmentalised and divided into themes: Egypt, China, etc. (Biddulph Grange Gardens)

Ref: DP456

Gallery: Other

The Long Path

Biddulph.

Stoke-on-Trent.

England. United Kingdom

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