Burnby Hall Gardens‘ claim to fame is that it is home to a national collection of hardy water lilies. From mid-June to August, its two lakes are ablaze with 100 plus lily varieties. But, as gorgeous as these floating carpets of colour are, they are only a fraction of what this public garden has to offer families visiting Pocklington.
From woodlands, to a walled Victorian garden, there’s something here to delight every age and taste. And, with an ornamental bridge, summer house, and a ‘stumpery’, this is a place to let imaginations run wild. There’s even a hobbit house in the stumpery.
Informal garden style
For years Burmby Hall Gardens sported a formal, municipal, look, but recently this has been updated. Whilst there are still loud stripes of colour lining the main paths, there’s also a much looser, informal style going on which is a lot easier on the eye. In spring, small sparks of candy-striped red tulips light up the woodland floor, replaced by soft wildflowers in summer.
Garden family fun
There are events at the gardens all year round, including an annual tulip festival, brass band concerts, and live outdoor performances. But even when there’s nothing going on, this is a fun place to visit with families. Children can feed the carp in the lake and there is an adventure playground as well as an ice cream stand. The cafe serves wholesome lunches and snacks too.
Burmby Hall Gardens belongs to the people of Pocklington. A gift from Major Percy Stewart, a wealthy explorer, it’s an important example of Edwardian garden fashion. Major Stewart and his wife, Katherine, lived in the adjoining house, Burnby Hall, between 1901 and 1962. When they laid out the garden, anyone who was anyone had a rockery designed by the famous nursery, ‘Backhouses of York‘, and a lake planted with water lily collections from around the world.
In keeping with their fashionable lifestyles, the Stewarts enjoyed travelling. They made eight world tours between 1906 and 1926. On show in a special museum attached to the cafe are some of the weird and wonderful things they collected on these tours.
From a Maori cloak made of kiwi feathers, to African drums, and the fascinating diaries of Herbert Stewart, who taught the last Russian Tsar’s children, it is a mesmerising, if sometimes disconcerting, exhibition.
There are doll-sized Chinese slippers, relics of an era when mothers would break their daughters feet to keep them fashionably small, and a collection of stuffed hunting trophies. Seen through modern eyes, these artefacts are a little creepy. But the museum curators have taken care to present them in a way that allows children to question the ethics of hunting.
If you’re staying at The Bungalow, then don’t miss out on a day at Burmby Hall Gardens with the family.