Chris Beardshaw Leads Garden Project for English Heritage North

Friday, 18th August 2017

Chris Beardshaw Leads Garden Project for English Heritage North

English Heritage Announce Major Garden Investment at Mount Grace Priory with

Garden Designer Chris Beardshaw as Creative Lead

Mount Grace Priory, in north Yorkshire, is to benefit from a significant investment in its gardens, thanks to English Heritage and a grant awarded by The Wolfson Foundation.  Plans include new garden designs capitalising on the glorious terracing to the front of the house, and the addition of a variety of new beds, paths and improvements to access.  This investment also includes the appointment of award winning garden designer, Chris Beardshaw, who as creative lead for this major gardens project, will initiate new designs to enhance the visitors’ experience of the gardens and act as consultant until completion in spring 2018.  English Heritage has also appointed a new Head Gardener James Taylor to spearhead the work – this is a new role for Mount Grace and a key appointment for English Heritage in the north.  

Utilising much of the existing landscape architecture at the front of the house, the gardens will be further enhanced with the introduction of fresh new plants combined with the re-use of many of the existing successful plants, creating room-like sections of diverse gardens.  The new plans will also establish a horticultural link between the house and garden encouraging visitors to enjoy the gardens as an extension of the Arts & Crafts style prevalent in the house.  Additional work will improve the woodland area and maximise ease of access for visitors and providing better access from the car park.  The gardens will also benefit from new interpretation panels, trails, tours and activities to encourage people to explore and find out more about the site and its stories.

Chris Beardshaw says: “The reawakening of the gardens associated with Most Grace Priory is a huge, exciting and complex task. The successive layers of visible history throughout this undulating landscape offer a multitude of design references. From the imposing Carthusian walls to the Arts and Crafts inspired remodelled house, the architectural styles and arrangement frame hugely varied landscape spaces that provide a multitude of environments for the new gardens. Character and detail for planting will be drawn from the work of some iconic designers, from architect Philip Webb to the interior designs William Morris all providing rich inspiration for a new layer to the gardens. The vision today is to create an extensive and coherent scheme that celebrates and reflects the enthusiasm for horticulturally diverse gardens of the late 19th century while offering rewards for visitors on their own modern day pilgrimage to this extraordinarily rich historic location.”

Michael Klemperer, Senior Gardens Advisor at English Heritage, adds:

“The work at Mount Grace Priory will transform the gardens, ensuring the site is commensurate with our key garden sites in England.  Chris has heritage garden experience, an empathy with the early 20th century planting combined with an awareness of the challenge of the 21st century visitor’s expectations.  He understands the layering of an historical landscape, and creating intrigue alongside fresh seasonal stories to retain interest. He has some superb ideas, especially celebrating the Arts & Crafts movement within the house and linking this to the garden, combined with a respect for the environment.  With the appointment of James too, we are confident that the gardens will be award winning in their own right – which is no more than this superb site deserves.”

Although work is minimised during the full open season, visitors will see some changes to the garden over the summer, but with the majority of work taking place over the autumn and winter.  The work will include removal of silt to restore the key aspects of the different layers of water features showing the monastic origins and how these developed over time, presenting a rich history of the water adaption of the site – work to the water features at Mount Grace Priory is a major task in its own right.  Any day closures during the winter will be communicated through the website.  

Mount Grace Priory site manager, Barbara Owen is delighted with the investment: “Mount Grace Priory is the best preserved Carthusian priory in Britain, and the garden offer needs to befit the glorious House and Priory.  In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming existing and new visitors to enjoy all that we offer.”

English Heritage is also looking for garden volunteers to help drive this project forward, working alongside the gardening team and becoming part of the gardening legacy at Mount Grace Priory.  Potential candidates should contact the site for details.


Notes to Editors:

Mount Grace Priory is open every day 10am to 6pm until 31 October 2017.  For seasonal opening times visit 

Mount Grace Priory, Northallerton, DL6 3JG. Tel: 01609 883494

The Wolfson Foundation 

The Wolfson Foundation is a charity awarding grants to support and promote excellence in the fields of science and medicine, the arts and humanities, education and health and disability.  For more information, visit

Mount Grace Priory

Mount Grace Priory is set against the Cleveland Hills 12 miles north of Thirsk and 6 miles north east of Northallerton, and is one of the country’s most unusual of English Heritage’s monastic sites, with the bonus of an Arts and Crafts mansion amidst landscape gardens. Carthusians were communities of hermits revered for their intense spirituality. The site includes a furnished reconstruction of one monk’s cell.  The house was extended in 1901 by Sir Lowthian Bell, wealthy patron of the Arts and Crafts movement, and whose granddaughter Gertrude Bell, the world-traveller, spy, author and photographer was a regular visitor.  

Chris Beardshaw

Chris Beardshaw is an award winning designer, plantsman, consultant, broadcaster and author on horticulture, design, history, science and the natural world, which is reflected in his wide ranging broadcasting career which spans over 15 years.  He is a regular presenter on both TV and Radio, and a regular speaker to students and horticulture groups.  Chris’ broadcasting experience includes multiple solo series and co-presenting roles as well as live broadcasts and reports including RHS Chelsea Flower Show coverage.  Previous work with English Heritage includes the gardens at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

For further information and an invitation to our summer media day with Chris Beardshaw, Mount Grace Priory’s Head Gardener James Taylor and the Mount Grace Priory site team, please contact:  Kendra Grahame-Clarke, PR Manager at English Heritage – North, m. 07920 181666

English Heritage cares for over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites – from world famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to Cold War bunkers. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million visitors each year.  Registered charity no. 1140351