I’m currently studying for an Advanced Certificate in Gardens Design. Our first assignment is a 3000 word essay on garden design principles within four eras of garden design history. We’ve learnt about Italian Renaissance, French Baroque and the English Landscape Movement, and also about design in the Victorian era. So today, inspired by our lectures, I set off to Biddulph Grange to see an excellent example of Victorian eclectic design, my mind buzzing with concepts of unity, proportion, progressive realisation and transition.
What a place. Not subtle, but a smack in the mouth – the Victorian equivalent of a theme park. The home of James Bateman, he designed the gardens as a tour of the world, so you travel from the glens of Scotland, go through a tunnel and emerge in a pastiche of China. I adored it. It’s mad. And the benches were fantastic - I got a bit obsessed. There are horse chestnut leaves and fruits, ferns and berries, acorns, lily-of-the-valley – beautiful. Who needs a throne when you have benches like these?