Thursday 4 August 2016

Treasurer's House Gardens

We travelled up to York on the train last week. Even if you have no interest in railways the station in York is suitably impressive and well worth a look. From there we went to some of our usual haunts (York does have some great ghost tours as well!) and we also popped into the tourist information centre. Whilst perusing the leaflets on the local attractions I was reminded of the fact that the National Trust have a property in the centre of York called the Treasurer's House. With membership cards in my purse we decided walk the short distance to it.
The reason I had forgotten about the Treasurer's House is that it is hidden behind York Minister. It was given to the National Trust in 1930 by Frank Green who had originally purchased it in 1897. Green was a wealthy man who had made his money through the family businesses around Yorkshire. With this money he bought antiques and works of art and needed somewhere to house them. He found the Treasurer's House and decided not only to buy it but to renovate it. The original Treasurer's House dates from the 12th century but only an external wall remains of it. Its name comes from when the Treasurer whose job it was to deal with York Minster's finances. There hasn't been a Treasurer since the Reformation in the 1540s but the name has stuck.
When Green decided to retire to Somerset he gave the Treasurer's House to the National Trust. It was the first house the National Trust had been given with all of the contents complete plus the sunken wall garden. Green restyled the garden when he bought it and had it dug out. When the work started so much stone was found that Green thought at one point it must have housed the stonemasons' yard.
The figure in the fountain is Mercury. At one stage Green had a lead statue of Mercury in the garden but it is no longer here. The National Trust had a replica made and adapted to be used with the water feature.
The London Plane trees that have been planted around the garden were put in for the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1900. Within a year the prince had become King Edward VII. London Planes are so called as they are the most common tree in London. This is because they are not a woodland tree but perfectly suited to urban areas.
Although the Treasurer's House is in the centre of a city York is also an ancient place and its position in the shadow of the Minster means it is also a tranquil one. With this in mind the gardeners use no noisy electrical tools and that includes mowers and hedge trimmers. Despite the extra work this method takes the gardening team have achieved gold in the Yorkshire in Bloom awards in both 2014 and 2015.
Although at the time of my visit the flowers in the garden were slightly past their best you could still see the colour scheme. Unusually it is based on blue and white colours with delphiniums and Sisyrinchium striatum prominent in the borders.
In everything that Green did he was a very precise man. Around the house he put studs on the floorboards to make sure the servants didn't move the furniture around. When he gave the house to the National Trust he did so on the proviso that they didn't change anything otherwise he would come back and haunt them! When things have had to be moved around sometimes a spooky occurrence has followed it with the thought that Green and his famous temper has returned to show his displeasure. Whatever you do when you visit just make sure you leave everything as you found it!

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in York and my last visit to the Treasury House was in the late 80's, I remember it being very badly decorated inside after a restoration, however i remember the gardens from my last visit to the Minster last year as being delightful


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