27/05/2022 | News
An Extraordinary Venue…with Incredible Grounds and Gardens
How does Farnham Castle’s Garden grow?
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
From Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
In March, we introduced you to the full Farnham Castle team, and this month our green-fingered Gardener and Groundsman, Paul Schofield, who has dedicated over 25 years of his career to us, shares his love of our English Country Castle grounds; from our historic Cedar trees to our working Kitchen Garden.
Paul works in a team of 5, but for the past 20 years he’s also had some additional help. Each week, he has spent time encouraging Work Experience Students from Farnham’s The Abbey School, amongst other schools across the South East, to share his love of gardening, passing on his experience to the next generation. Paul loves teaching students anything and everything, from sewing seeds, to rejuvenating existing flower beds by injecting floral colour. He loves to use beautiful red Penstemon, violet Nepeta, jewel toned Salvia, round Allium, white Choisya, Virburnum, and Bergenia, to name a few.
We have been fortunate to have had a very loyal and dedicated team working in our grounds at Farnham Castle, and over the centuries the grounds and gardens have been cared for by many famous Bishops (and their sometimes famous gardeners) and visited by many famous guests, including Kings and Queens.
Bishop John Thomas 1761-1781 had been the tutor to King George III, with whom he got on well, and The King often visited Farnham Castle. On one occasion he arrived with Queen Charlotte, and all 12 of his children. No doubt they would have enjoyed the gardens and may even have come across the young William Cobbett, employed by the Bishop as a gardener’s boy
Bishop Brownlow North was also an important figure in the Castle ground’s history, as during his forty years as Bishop he ensured that both the Palace and Castle gardens were maintained to the highest standard. Brownlow North’s wife, Henrietta, whom he married in 1741, had three Lebanon Cedar trees planted in the Castle grounds, two of which were severely damaged in the hurricane of 1987.
Trees are like landmarks, and our large Cedrus Libani Trees can still be seen from the town centre today. “The Cedrus Libani provide an all year round burst of ever-green colour to our lawn, and birds love to nest in them. We have at least 20 different varieties of tree planted within the Castle Walls” says Paul.
As Head Groundsman, Paul has a number of favourite areas and interesting facts about the grounds. For example, many years ago, when the Castle was a Centre for International Briefings, a former Director planted a bouquet of daffodils on the Great Lawn in the shape of Africa. Today, the continent’s shape can still be seen from every south-facing room in the Castle. Then, there’s our spectacular purple Wisteria – everyone’s favourite. The pruning and maintenance of all our plants and shrubs keep Paul very busy. “We grow a variety of stunning flowers up here at the Castle. We grow seasonal flowers for the Bishop’s Palace, and seasonal produce in our Kitchen Gardens for our Chefs. It’s really great to know that what we grow is not only seen in the gardens, but also used and enjoyed by our many guests” added Paul.
Paul knows that our wedding couples love the prettiest parts of our grounds, of which one has to be our stunning Rose Garden, located on our East Lawn. When in full bloom, the abundance of White Ice Berg Roses surround our fountain, and create the most beautiful backdrop for weddings and outdoor events.
What’s your biggest challenge, Paul? “Our Great Lawn!” A testament to Paul’s skill, however, it has picture-perfect stripes throughout the entire Summer!
Please contact the Events Team at Farnham Castle if you’d like to view our glorious gardens for your next outdoor event.