Last Tuesday, despite only just back from our Hebridean jaunt, we were off bright(ish) and early(ish) up to Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire, having been invited by Charlotte of the Historic Houses Association to see Renishaw being awarded the HHA Garden of the Year Award, an award sponsored by Christie’s the auctioneers. The winner is decided through the votes of the 39,000 Friends of the HHA, an association which represents the interests of around 300 of Britain’s historic, houses, castles and gardens which remain in private ownership, and it was clear that the Sitwell family and their gardening team were thrilled to be receiving the award.
Home to the Sitwell family for nearly 400 years, Renishaw Hall has gardens that are predominantly Italianate in style but set in traditional English countryside. The house and formal grounds date from the 1620s but it was the passion and commitment of the fourth baronet Sir George Sitwell and his admiration for the classical Italian gardens that forms the landscape that is seen today. Created between 1886 and 1936, the legacy of Sir George has been preserved by his grandson the Late Sir Rerersby and his wife Lady Sitwell and their daughter and current owner Alexandra (great niece of Edith Sitwell), all who have devoted their time to nurturing and developing the gardens.
Although the garden was lacking the colour that would inevitably fill the borders in the summer months on the various lawns and terraces and elsewhere, it was clear that there would be something of interest at all times of year, a fact verified by a member of staff in the entrance kiosk who told us she loved it so much that it never felt like coming to work. Last week saw the tail end of a woodland walk which had recently been awash with camellias (a view I mistakenly took to be roses in the promotional picture I showed earlier) leading to woods absolutely chocabloc with bluebells – perfect timing!