Complex of gardens incl greenhouses, terracing/banking, tree lined drive
Site Description: Victorian garden
Access: Privately owned house, footpath on opposite side of river or from above on B6165
Visibility: Partial from distance.
Private visit arranged through one of flat owners known to member of group
Micro climate: Very sheltered close to river creating damp environment surrounded by mature trees
North boundary: Weir & River Nidd
South boundary: Stone crenellated wall
East boundary: Stone crenellated wall
West boundary: Trees and access track
Buildings: Victorian House 3 storey gives appearance of several building joined together and landmark of tall turret.
Walkways / Gateways / Paths etc: West entrance through a stone archway, to N over Iron bridge. Along each terrace of garden is a circular path (some gravel,tarmac or hardcore) which circles round garden.
Landscaping: Water features Weir which builds river into small lake formation
Other man-made features: Croquet lawn with original wood summer house with lattice design.
Iron bridge over river Nidd, was main entrance,now locked metal gates for safety.
Garden, separated from river by stone crenellated wall, with huge lawns. Terrace garden with stone sculptures. Lookout posts either side of house surrounded by iron railings. From the front of the house a steep flight of stone steps lead to a lawn, with a circular stone feature now grassed, which may have been an Italianate garden or rose bed
Natural features: Fast flowing river at foot of terraced garden
Planting: Many fine mature specimen trees including a row of fine Cypress and specimen spreading deciduous trees including a copper beech, a fern leaved beech, redwood, Sequoia
General Condition: Well tended but not manicured.
Local knowledge: Photos held by Nidderdale Museum in Pateley Bridge
Recommendations: A group visit took place.
George Metcalfe in 1853, before his wedding, had set his heart on Castlestead, a farm half a mile up the riverside from his mill at Glasshouses. 'Castlestead I have wanted all my life, Castlestead I must have. For Castlestead I will give any money, any money'.
Castlestead was said to be the site of a Roman camp and this is shown on OS maps. In 1999 a local group surveyed the adjacent field but found no Roman traces. It may be that construction of the house overlay the camp.
John Yorke of Bewerley also wanted Castlestead but on 5 May 1853, after some doubtful dealing, the price of £900 plus £500 for the weir rights was agreed with George Metcalfe. There were problems with the contract and the transaction was not agreed until 26 December 1860, on George Metcalfe's 34th birthday.
Work started on building George's dream home in April 1861, the architect being William Reid Corson of Manchester. Surprisingly stone from John Yorke's quarry below Crocodile Rock was used for the house. The family moved into their new home in May 1862 when it was barely finished. Incidentally this was the year the railway was opened.
A year earlier, convinced that he would be the eventual owner, George Metcalfe had employed Messrs Major of Knowsthorpe, Leeds, to start laying out the gardens, making terraces and planting shrubs. To maintain them he engaged George Gray Watson who had been a gardener at Ripley Castle.
Plans for an iron lattice bridge were drawn up to cross the river to the house, providing a carriage way from the mill. The bridge was 100 feet long and constructed by Messrs Joicey of Newcastle. The girders were transported from Newcastle by rail but unfortunately one girder was hurled from the truck on a bridge in Gateshead into the street below. No one was injured but construction was delayed. The girders were brought to Glasshouses siding. During assembly of the bridge a girder broke away and ended up broken in the river. Eventually the bridge was completed at a cost of £700.
In his book on Nidderdale published in 1863 William Grainge described the new house. 'On the north or entrance front is an open arched porch; and over the Entrance Hall a tower, having at one angle a turret staircase, the slated spire of which is surmounted by a handsome vane. The east or Terrace front is embellished with bay windows rising through two stories between which are the lofty arched and coupled windows of the staircase. The south front looks upon the flower garden and the ground along the bank of the river is tastefully laid out with walks and planted with shrubs, which in the course of a few years will make this the most charming spot in the vale of the Nidd'.
Eileen Burgess. Private notes
Eileen Burgess. (n.d.) 'A most Conspicuous and Useful Family'. E. Burgess: Avenue Printing House
William Grainge. (1863) Nidderdale: an historical, topographical and descriptive sketch of the valley of the Nidd. Pateley Bridge: T. Thorpe
Nidderdale Museum Society. (2003) The Book of Nidderdale. Aspects of a Yorkshire Valley. Halsgrove
Harry Speight. (1906) Upper Nidderdale. London: Elliot Stock
The site details are held on the Parks and Gardens UK database; Record Id: 6847
Record created 13/04/2009
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