The Gardens House

The Gardens House

The best remaining example of the houses on the estate which formed an integral part of Parlington.

Not the Gardener's house?

The Gardens House is so named because it overlooks the gardens which reached south towards the main entrance to the Hall. The map of 1908 shows the pathways which were laid out in a rectangular pattern within the brick walled garden. The central pathway leads from the fountain directly in line with the main entrance of the Hall, halfway along the path is a sun dial (no longer in existence) The hatched areas on the plan are glass houses and at this time the entire garden was walled, today the south wall is no longer standing.

Local belief has it that the house was the head gardeners residence, this presumably arises from the name Gardens House leading people to believe that it was indeed the residence of the head gardener. Although in these more enlightened times it may well be the sort of residence a celebrity garden presenter would have. Whilst the head gardner may have been very much a treasured asset, would he have been given the opportunity to reside in such surroundings? Well, recent research into the census records reveals that in 1841 a Martin Habbersham aged 35 and his wife lived at the Gardens House and his occupation was described as a Gardener!

Additionally, three other people were noted as living in the Garden Rooms at that time, presumably the collection of single storey buildings that form the northern face of the enclosing garden wall. On the right of the picture above.

The house is believed to date from the eighteenth century, it is certainly a fine Georgian example and is listed Grade Two. It has many features which are symetrical, in the classic Georgian style.

The Lower end of the garden

The lower end of the former gardens to the house, with the high brick boundary wall in the distance.

A Hypothesis by the author

Sir Thomas Gascoigne inherited the estate upon the death of his elder brother Edward who died in 1762 at the young age of 19, he in turn had inherited in 1750 from their father Sir Edward Gascoigne. Sir Edward is noted for having made many alterations and extensions to Parlington, his diaries carry notes on much of the works undertaken during his stewardship. But I doubt he had the Gardens House built.

However, the young Sir Thomas who was instrumental in establishing Home Farm following his return in 1779 from his grand tour of Europe and was very interested in making use of the most up to date technology in his farming endeavors. The Gardens House is built of brick as is Home Farm, the fashionable material of the day, it heads the garden area with glasshouses and formal beds, which could well have been the source of many horticultural initiatives, as Sir Thomas was noted as a keen agriculturist.

The house is similar in many aspects to the stable wing of the older Parlington Hall, but more research is necessary to draw definite conclusions.

I believe the Gardens House to have been undertaken at the behest of Sir Thomas Gascoigne. It has been suggested that it was a Dower House, but Sir Thomas's mother the only candidate for this position had died in 1764, and in any event although bequethed the use of Parlington during her life, following the death of her husband, Lady Gascoigne had remarried to a Jarrard Strickland and thus forfeited this benefit.

If the house was not built as a Dower House could it have been built to accommodate the changed circumstances of the Gascoigne line, Sir Thomas's wife died in 1784 just a month after the birth of their son. However as the step father of Mary Turner the child born out of his wife's first marriage to the Late Sir Charles Turner. He may have considered some requirement for her separate from the main family line. This of course changed in 1809 when Sir Thomas's son and heir died in a riding accident.

Mary had married Richard Oliver on 3rd May 1804 by special licence at Parlington, is this a clue? In that, whereas you might expect Mary to marry and then live at her husbands home, they may have continued to live on the estate during the the years prior to the death of Sir Thomas, perhaps in the Gardens House? Coinicentally Mary was probably born in 1782 and was therefore only 2 years older than her step brother, Tom Gascoigne.

The Racquettes Court?

Racquettes Court at Parlington

Adjacent to the walled gardens surrounding the Gardens House, is a rectangular structure, partly stone and brick. The brick areas have been rendered and parts still remain. The stone however is coursed and faced [Ashlar] and the masonry pieces are extremely large. When built it would have provided a very smooth surface. It is believed to be a court for some kind of game such as racquettes. Today it is hard to find, lost as it is amongst the brambles which are in excess of 6' 0" high in the summer months.

Racquettes Court at Parlington

Parlington Hall in the late Nineteenth century. Taken from a photograph provided
by the Garforth Historical Society.