The glorious gardens that now surround Madingley Hall reflect centuries of change, due both to the fashion of the times and the changing needs of the Hall’s inhabitants.
Although the Hall was built between 1543 and 1559, the earliest recorded image of the gardens is an engraving dating from 1705, showing a formal, Dutch-style garden to the north and east of the Hall. This formal style soon fell victim to the prevailing trend for naturalistic parkland, however, and in 1756, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was employed to create fashionable, modern gardens. His style of smooth undulating grass and scattered trees was the height of fashion, and swept away almost all traces of the existing gardens’ formality. The view to the east from the front door of the Hall remains relatively unchanged from this period.
The Walled Garden dates from around the same time, and was used as a kitchen garden, providing for the Hall until 1947. The Yew Topiary Gardens were added in 1927 by Ambrose Harding, who faithfully transplanted the garden, tree by tree, from Histon Manor, his previous home. Between 1948 and 1951, the University rebuilt and landscaped the 18th century Courtyard, and today it’s filled with a variety of alpines, climbing plants, shrubs and perennials which thrive in the Hall’s warm micro-climate and dry growing conditions. A new garden was created on the south side of the Hazel Walk in 1983, featuring a rose pergola, raised alpine bed, a sunken garden and medicinal border.
Visitors to Madingley Hall are encouraged to take full advantage of the gardens: serpentine paths wind through the undulating terrain, and on a cold, crisp morning, or a balmy summer afternoon, provide the ideal location for a relaxing stroll.
A comprehensive souvenir guide on the gardens is available to purchase from the Hall's Reception Office.
Want to know more?
Fascinating tours of the Hall and gardens can be arranged for small groups. For more information, just get in touch.