Kitchen garden wall built in the late-C18 to the designs of William Emes.
Reason for Listing
The kitchen garden wall built in the late C18 to the designs of William Emes is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: it has an unusual semicircular plan that forms a sweeping curve of considerable aesthetic appeal.
* Architectural interest: its impressive height, rich red brick, and smoke-blackened flues strongly suggest that it was a high status heated wall for growing peaches, apricots and other similar fruit.
* Historic interest: it is an important surviving element of a landscaping commission carried out by Emes, one of the leading late-C18 garden designers in the Midlands noted for his irregular designs for kitchen gardens.
The kitchen garden wall was constructed in the late-C18 as part of the redevelopment of the Carlton Hall estate by the renowned garden and landscape designer William Emes (1729/30-1803). The original Carlton Hall was built as a hunting lodge in the early C17 by the Clifton family of Nottingham but they rarely visited, and in 1765 it was purchased by the Mellish family of Blyth and Hodsock. Only nine years later, the estate was sold to Robert Ramsden who was responsible for reconstructing Carlton Hall into a Neo-Classical house and commissioning Emes to design the parkland. A copy of Emes’ plan, dated 1783, shows his improvements which included the kitchen garden with its distinctive semicircular wall situated north-west of the house, and the ha-ha which formed the southern boundary of the kitchen garden. The lake was remodelled, several lawns were laid with panoramic views, wooded areas were created to the north-east and south-west of the park, and a new lodge was built at the eastern boundary.
On the 1783 annotated plan the semicircular wall is shown to have a small, rectangular building centrally placed on the north side. The south side is shaded, forming a crescent shape, and is labelled ‘kitchen garden’. The Ordnance Survey (OS) maps of 1886 and 1929 both depict two parallel walls running east-west from the east side of the semicircular wall, enclosing an orchard. On the south side of the wall is a long glass house, and attached to the north side of the wall is a range of four or five small buildings, most likely bothies, potting and storage sheds, and a further attached building to the west. The 1886 and 1929 OS maps depict the layout of the kitchen garden which is divided into six main areas by a path running north-south from the glasshouse, crossed by two paths running east-west. The 1886 map shows that there were trees lining the paths. The glasshouse has since been removed and nothing now survives of the kitchen garden layout or orchard as shown on the historic OS maps. The two eastern-most buildings on the north side of the wall have been removed, and the surviving buildings are in a partly ruinous state. The westernmost building is the most substantial, comprising two rooms, one of which has a small range in the east wall, probably added in the second half of the C19 to provide warmth and comfort for gardeners. One or more of these buildings would have housed the tiny fireplaces used to heat the wall to aid the fruit tree growth. The removal of some bricks low down in the recessed section reveals the smoke blackened flue through which the heat was conducted around the wall. The wall shows evidence of minor repairs in the brickwork, as is usual with kitchen garden walls where the repeated need to nail support for branches chips away the brick and mortar. Small sections of the coping have been replaced with concrete. Carlton Hall was demolished in 1955, and seven dwellings were built on the site and in the kitchen garden in the 1960s. In the 1980s and 1990s the associated stable court and outbuildings to the east of the former Hall were converted to residential use.
William Emes was head gardener at Kedleston, Derbyshire, from 1756 to 1760 before he developed an extensive practice as a landscape designer, predominantly in the North Midlands and Wales. His style, which is similar to that of Lancelot Brown, is characterised by sinuous lakes, tree belts around boundaries and clumps of specimen trees in parkland. Emes is known to have received over ninety commissions, twenty-three of which are on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, including two at Grade I and five at Grade II*. He created numerous kitchen gardens, including one at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire (Registered at Grade I), but none of them quite in the same form as that in Carlton Park.
MATERIALS: Rich red brick laid predominantly in English garden wall bond with magnesium limestone coping and buttresses. Bothies constructed of red brick and limestone under roofs covered in corrugated iron.
PLAN: The wall is semicircular and faces south. It has a recessed central section where the glasshouse was formerly positioned, behind which, on the north side, are attached bothies.
EXTERIOR: The wall is approximately five metres high and over 200 metres long, forming an impressive sweeping curve, slightly staggered in places. It has coping of limestone flags which project a few inches on each side. The wall is buttressed on the north side in order to leave the south, fruit-growing side unencumbered. There are three doorways placed at regular intervals: the outer two have segmental brick arches and the central door in the recessed section has a flat brick arch. This recessed section, which was the heated wall, has a shallow raised lower section which enabled trellises to be positioned a few inches away from the wall to prevent trees from being scorched by excessive heat. The range of brick and stone lean-tos, occupying the north side of the wall, are divided into four sections by three buttresses of coursed limestone rubble with large quoins, and there is another small, L-shaped building attached on the west side. One of the bothies has been partly rebuilt in C20 brick and they are all in a semi-ruinous state with crumbling masonry. The glazing in the windows has been lost, as has one of the lean-to roofs.
INTERIOR: The bothies have either brick or stone floors and exposed brick or masonry walls. The L-shaped building on the west side has two rooms and a small range in the east wall, probably added in the second half of the C19.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.