Written by Carolynn Whorton
Nestled in the heart of the Peak District is the large Grade II listed Thornbridge Hall. The country house is situated on 12 acres of stunning gardens which have been open to the public since the 1930s and continue to attract visitors on selected days between April and September.
"If you’re looking to lose yourself in acres of lush greenery, then you’ve come to the right place. Thornbridge Hall Gardens is one of the stand out gardens in the Peak District. When the site was designed in the 19th century, the aim was to create ‘1,000 shades of green’ and these 12 acres of distinctive garden rooms certainly meet the brief.
Under the ownership of Jim and Emma Harrison, the gardens have flourished, with careful restoration made to the kitchen garden, scented terrace, long border, modern knot garden, orangery and greenhouse. Visitors are transported from the romance of the Italian gardens, to the tranquility of the water garden via beautiful borders and manicured lawns edged with woodland.
Complete your visit up on the gorgeous terraced gardens where visitors can tuck into a light lunch surrounded by the sounds of nature. If that wasn’t enough, visitors will also come across three atmospheric temples, numerous statues, 46 urns and two grottos, making Thornbridge Hall Gardens an excellent day out for all the family.
Please use what3words///gather.mango.tank to find us. (our postcode doesn’t take you to the correct location)
Direct access from the Monsal trail for walkers and cyclists and plenty of bike racks to leave your bike! Access by car is via the A6020, Hassop to Ashford road. Follow our Parkland Drive to our brand new car park. There is a drop off zone outside the café and 5 Disabled parking bays next to the café.
As can be expected of a country house of this size and stature, there have been many owners of Thornbridge Hall over the years. Each one has contributed in their own way towards shaping the building and impressive gardens that we see today.
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Part of the Longsdon family estate from the 12th century to the late 18th century, Thornbridge Hall was sold to Manchester merchant John Morewood in 1790 for £10,000. Although Morewood extended the original house, it was Frederick Craven in 1859 who rebuilt the building in the Jacobean style.
George Marples then made his (and arguably the most prominent) mark on this historic building and grounds by enlarging the house and landscaping the gardens. Simeon Marshall designed the formal gardens at the request of Marples to create ‘1000 shades of green’, to be seen from his bedroom window.
Simeon Marshall wanted to see '1000 shades of green' from his bedroom window
Looking around the gardens today, it’s clear to see that Marples' vision has become a reality, and more recent additions to the land beautifully complement the overall elegance of this quintessentially English garden.
Charles Boot became the next owner of the estate in 1929 and rescued a number of statues, building facades and fountains (which are still on display at Thornbridge) from Clumber Park stately home, which was destroyed by a fire in the mid-1930s.
After Sheffield City Council took over the house for a brief period, Thornbridge Hall went back into private ownership. In 2005, Thornbridge Brewery was founded in the grounds of the Hall, adding another interesting development to the site’s rich history. Specialising in high-quality craft beers, the business has upscaled from the original 10-barrel brewery on site to new, larger premises in the nearby town of Bakewell.
Despite this expansion, the original brewing areas in the outbuildings of Thornbridge Hall are still used in the process of developing new beers. Recognised by many as the UK's first craft brewery, Thornbridge Brewery now distributes their beers to over 35 countries worldwide.
The kitchen garden
One of the most striking parts of Thornbridge is the Italian Garden (pictured - main image). Complete with a central fountain, the Italian Garden is completely evergreen, so whatever time of the year you visit, it will always look crisp and precise. Grand urns line the edges of the uniform landscape and in spring are filled with Daffodils, English Ivy varieties and Heuchera, followed by Geraniums, Fuchsias and Petunias in the summer months.
The Orangery was redeveloped in 2009 on the site of the original Vineries, with underfloor heating added and glass and wood put back into the structure. Just before this in 2008, the Vegetable Terrace was created, which includes fruit like strawberries, raspberries, kiwi and rhubarb along with herbs and salads which are used by the cafe on site.
The Herbaceous border (which stretches over 100 foot long) is full of many different cottage style plants including Forget-me-nots, Digitalis, Lillies and Narcissus. There are also four giant Japanese Acers which were planted to commemorate the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen in 1953.
The Herbaceous border
There are two grottos in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall, with one boasting a castellated viewing platform where you can enjoy views of the bowling green and Italian Garden. Also overlooking the bowling green is Koi lake, built in the 1890s.
Dotted around the garden are three classic temples, one of which can be found on the Terrace front lawns, south of the Main Hall. Looking down these lawns gives uninterrupted views of the lake and the woodland. Garden designers have deliberately kept this area relatively low on planting so that these views can be enjoyed without distraction.
Plants including Darmera Peltata, Bamboos and Candelabra Primulas can be found in the picturesque water garden. During the hot summer months, this area is also one of the coolest places you’ll find.
In 2011, the scented terrace was developed on a plot that was originally a tennis court back in the 1930s. As the name suggests, this section smells as good as it looks with beautifully fragrant flowers including Lilies, Jasmines and David Austin Roses occupying the borders.
The Scented Terrace
Another more recent development in the ground of Thornbridge is the new Knot garden, which was redesigned in 2017. It’s filled with hundreds of different grasses, purple Salvias and orange Geums. With views overlooking the Derbyshire countryside, this is one area not to be missed.
The knot garden
After soaking in the garden's beauty, visitors can enjoy refreshments and a bite to eat at the Carriage House Cafe on site. Cakes, light lunches, and of course the award-winning Thornbridge Brewery Beer is available to sample at the cafe, which also has an outdoor seating area perfect for the summer months.
Now a popular wedding venue, the magnificent Great Hall and Music Room are licenced to hold civil ceremonies. With beautiful reception and dining rooms in the stately home and the backdrop of the spectacular gardens, it’s not hard to see why so many couples choose this incredible location for their big day.
Thornbridge Hall became an RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Partner Garden in 2017. You can visit every Wednesday and Thursday from April until September, with the gardens also opening on Tuesdays in June, July and August. Regular opening hours are 9am-5pm, and dogs are welcome on a lead.
The Thornbridge Hall Audio Tour is now available to download for free in the Candide app.