Middlethorpe Hall Celebrates the Life and Work of Fanny Wilkinson with the Unveiling of a Blue Plaque

March 2, 2020


o    Fanny was the first female landscape gardener and lived at Middlethorpe Hall
o    Today Middlethorpe Hall is an award-winning hotel with 20 acres of gardens
o    Special events on 23rd & 25th June celebrate the beautiful gardens and their history


Fanny Rollo Wilkinson (1855–1951) is remembered as the first female landscape gardener in the UK. On Thursday 25th June, Middlethorpe Hall will unveil a York Civic Trust blue plaque in the walled garden of this award-winning hotel, York’s only country house hotel, part of the National Trust.


This pioneer gardener was the eldest child of Dr Matthew Wilkinson, a leading Manchester physician and the second husband of Frances Barlow, from whom he inherited Middlethorpe Hall. As Fanny explained, ‘When my father died (in 1878) we went to live at our own place, near York (Middlethorpe Hall), and there I began to devote myself to gardening in a practical way’.


Fanny Wilkinson was one of the first women to make a professional career as a Landscape gardener. She laid-out Vauxhall Park in London for the Kyrle Society, a ‘Society for the Diffusion of Beauty’ among the urban poor. The Society was founded by Octavia Hill’s sister, Miranda, and was an important forerunner of the National Trust.


The famous blue plaques scheme available throughout the UK, celebrates the links between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked. York Civic Trust has been placing commemorative plaques to places and people on buildings since the late 1940s. There are now more than a hundred plaques spread around the city.


The gardens at Middlethorpe Hall have been extensively restored and replanted since the property was acquired in 1980. There are many specimen trees, including a Cedar al Lebanon on the main lawn, a mature Red Oak in the Spring Garden, and a Turkey Oak all of which remain from the original garden.


The enchanting walled kitchen garden produces not only a beautiful display of flowering shrubs, magnificent herbaceous borders but holds herb beds and has been planted for fruit: apples, pears, plums, peaches and greengages, all of which are used by the Chef to create wonderful puddings. The team of Gardeners has also created an organic ‘potager’, producing a large selection of vegetables that are used by chefs during the season.


The main feature of the walled kitchen garden is a mellow brick Dovecote, dating back to 1681 and rescued from dereliction in 1980, now used as a wine cellar. To the west of the kitchen garden is the Rose Garden its wide stone path lined with lavender. The kitchen garden links through to the walled White Garden planted with white flowering plants such as Wisteria Floribunda and Agapanthus Campanulatus Albus below. This then leads into the Spring Garden and then the park and arboretum, eventually through to a lake surrounded by a glade of trees.


There are 29 bedrooms, an award-winning restaurant and boutique spa. Each of the bedrooms at Middlethorpe Hall is individually designed and has its own distinct story. The classically panelled dining room provides the perfect setting to enjoy the contemporary take on traditional British food. The restaurant has been awarded two AA Rosettes. The boutique spa at Middlethorpe Hall, with its blue-tiled pool and sauna, is the perfect place to relax and recharge.


A truly special part of staying at Middlethorpe Hall is that guests can interact with the head gardener and his team. Andrew Leighton has been working at Middethorpe Hall for over 14 years and has been in charge as Head Gardener since February 2017. He works alongside a team of dedicated volunteers from various backgrounds all with a passion to look after the 20 acres of formal garden and parkland that surround Middlethorpe Hall. The gardens have been awarded 'Yorkshire in Bloom' awards over many years.


www.middlethorpe.com Middlethorpe Hall, York, Yorkshire, YO23 2GB, Tel:

01904 641241 B&B priced from £219.00 per night based on two sharing


Tuesday 23rd June – Art in Nature – Garden Tour and flower arranging demonstration - £49 per person all inclusive

10:30 Tea/Coffee in the Drawing room

11:00 Garden Tour focusing on design when planting (Art in Nature) led by Head Gardener Andrew Leighton

11:45 Garden flower arranging demonstration in the Barlow (Art in Nature) by Margot Gill (NT Volunteer)

12:30 Pre-luncheon drinks

13:00 Luncheon with accompanying wines and coffee


Thursday 25th June – celebrating the life of Fanny Rollo Wilkinson – First female landscape gardener - £65 per person all inclusive

10.30am – tea/coffee reception in the Drawing Room

11am – lecture in the Barlow Room by Elizabeth Crawford (researcher and author specialising in the suffrage movement) and Q&A

12.30 – unveiling of the York Civic Trust blue plaque in the walled garden

12.45 – canapés and bubbly reception

1.15pm – luncheon in the Grill Room with accompanying wines and coffees

3.30pm – end of event

Please reload

Our Recent Posts

Jardin des Douars in Essaouira on Morocco’s Coast Reopens 10th July

July 2, 2020

Lifting the Lid on lockdown with the Fez Cooking School and Palais Amani, online cookery classes & exclusive use of a palace

June 11, 2020

Hampton Manor Re-Opens its 45 Acres Offering Staycation Foodie Breaks in the heart of Warwickshire

June 9, 2020

Please reload


I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!

Please reload


©2020 by Peter da Silva Communications