Scampston Hall is located midway between York and Scarborough on the A64 near the village of Malton.
The Hall is home to Christopher & Miranda Legard and their family. It is one of the finest examples of a regency country house in North Yorkshire. The St. Quintons have owned the property since the early 18th century and passed to the Legard family through marriage. The Hall has been magnificently restored to its full glory in the 1990’s by the Legard family. Small groups can access the property by appointment only, it is the family home and the rooms are still in use daily. A guided tour of the house allowed us admittance to many of the rooms where we could see everything at close quarters. Stories of scandals and successes of the family and its collection of fine arts were relayed to us by enthusiastic guides. No coats, bags or cameras were allowed further than the entrance hall, where provision was made for their storage. The doors were securely locked before the tour began.
The first house was built around 1700 but was remodelled by the end of the 18th century. The house with its Recency interiors and art collection are as you see it today. The St. Quintons were personal friends of Thomas Gainsborough and there are several works of his in the house. The art collection includes paintings by Batoni, Romney, Lely and Kneller to name but a few. There is also a magnificent porcelain collection displayed in cabinets upon the stair and landings and in the rooms.
Besides Scampston Hall the estate contains 80 acres of gardens, parkland and lakes. The Parkland was elegantly landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. He included a “ha-ha”, or sunken fence, designed to separate different parts of the park but to be viewed as a harmonious whole. It stops the cows entering the gardens but doesn’t detract from the view. (Watch you don’t fall in Ha-Ha…). His lakes flowed from one into another as if a river flowed through the landscape and careful planting of trees and natural features created diverse vistas.
A walk through the park took us past the parterre at the front of the house towards the rock garden with its winding paths, and then onto the Palladian bridge. This renaissance style bridge was designed by Capability Brown and is located at the end of the three interconnected lakes.
A rustic bench upon the bridge afforded a welcome rest and a marvellous view of one of the lakes.
Beyond the Bridge a look back showed the dammed stream and a glimpse of the Walled Garden. Walking further on from the Bridge, it was viewed from a different angle.
We walked from here through the trees and passing the children’s play area until we could see the Cascades.
However, we could walk no further as the ground became too muddy and the small bridge over a stream was unpassable. So, we retraced our steps back to the Palladian Bridge, then crossed the lawn in front of the house and followed the path around to the house entrance.
Our last but one port of call was the Walled Garden. This was designed by Piet Oudolf in 1999; it was laid out in a series of individually styled small gardens. We walked around the garden through an avenue between the wall and pleached Lime trees until we entered the first of twelve such gardens.
Walled Garden Plan
Key: (1) Avenue of Limes
(2) Grass Garden
(3) Cut Flower Garden
(4) Vegetable Garden
(5) Silent Garden
(6) Box Hedge Paths and Borders
(7) Perennial Meadow
(9) Katsura Grove
(10) Box Hedge Paths and Borders
(11) Serpentine Garden
(12) The Mount
The Grass Garden (2) was a garden full of drifts of grasses. Swathes of Molina “Peter Petersen” ran through the close mown grass of the lawn; the breeze rippled through them, giving an almost swaying hypnotic affect. In the centre of the garden were seats shaded by some Philodendron chinensis trees and under planted with Salvia verticillate “Purple Rain”.
We next moved in between Box hedges to the Cut Flower and Vegetable Gardens (3/4). Looking over the hedges we had the first glimpse of the Perennial Meadow Garden and its central fountain. The Flower Garden (3) presented with ten circular island beds in two rows of five. Salvias, Peonies, Catmint, Hardy Geraniums, Bearded Irises, English Roses, Sea Holly, White Valerian and Golden Rod featured in them. Quite a serene garden really.
The Vegetable Garden was being replanted, so we were only allowed a cursory look.
Retracing our steps passing the Flower Garden and then on to the Silent Garden (5). Aptly named, this green oasis of tranquil calm in the corner of the walled garden afforded us a peaceful interlude from the riot of colour in some of the other small gardens. This minimalist garden was planted with 24 round columns of Yew with square clipped bases which towered over my head, about three metres high. A symmetrical display of the Yew columns was reflected in the centrally placed understated pond. A single low bench along one side of the pond fitted with the simplicity of the garden. It allowed us rest and meditate on its zen quality.
We flowed from one garden into the next. This was the Katsura Grove (9), a lovely shady area of mature trees underplanted with Molina and Hardy Geraniums. The Katsura Trees in June were a bright green colour but in Spring the emerging leaves would be a bronze-pink colour and in Autumn they would become vivid gold-orange and the air would be filled with candy-floss fragrance. Oh! I’d love to be here then.
Continuing with the flow, we moved into the adjacent Perennial Meadow (7). What a contrast! A palette of colour, form and scent accosted our senses. Four beds around a circular pond with a fountain. Sounds simple but the planting is arranged to give a long season of interest as one plant lives in harmony with another, careful plant choices allowing plants to support each other, no staking is required. A map of the planting was clearly displayed showing the tremendous number of plants involved.
The plants short in stature and tall in grandeur were all a magnet for flying insects: Bees, Butterflies and Hoverflies. I was mesmerised watching them flit from one flower to another.
In the central pond the water in the fountain shot 15 to 20 feet straight into the air and returned to earth in a resounding splat.The Fountain and some of the beds are shown here with the Katsura Grove in the background
Along one side of the garden was the magnificent Conservatory(8). This was built by Richardsons of Darlington in 1894 and restored in 2015. It is used as a Heritage and Learning Centre but unfortunately, we had very little time to indulge in the visitation of its exhibition rooms.
Next up was the Serpentine Garden(11). As its name suggests it contained six serpentine hedges of clipped Yew and other topiary structures. We slithered our way between the hedges; it would have been a delightful place to play hide and seek.
Finally, we came to The Mount (12), a square grassy mound with one set of steps leading to the flat top, where the whole of the walled garden could be appreciated. After climbing the steps, we were exhausted; the steps were quite steep and there were lots of them. But the garden when viewed from above was magnificent; the formal arrangement of the garden as a whole and the colourful tapestry of the planting were sublime. I was tempted to slide down the grass bank on the opposite side to the steps but decency and a sign, prominently displayed, discouraging you from doing such, soon put pay to that. We gracefully descended using the steps and then walked around the Mount through a wildflower meadow and under Yoshino Cherry Trees towards the exit gate.
We quickly perused the plant sales then finally drank a well-earned cup of tea and ate a scone in the Garden Café before returning to our coach and then onward to our Yorkshire home, Nidd Hall.