Biddulph Grange Garden is one of the most intriguing and unusual National Trust properties in the country.
On a trip to this hidden gem, visitors can see gardens inspired by ancient Egypt, Italy and China in a single stroll.
It’s been described as a ‘horticultural Disneyland’, with entire continents crammed into sections of the garden.
A wander around the fascinating Grade I-listed grounds will bring you face-to-face with a group of stone sphinxes, a bright red Chinese pagoda by a lake, and a tiered Italian-style garden.
There’s also a Tudor-style Cheshire cottage and a sweeping Victorian garden with views of the valley below.
The grounds at Biddulph Grange, right on the Staffordshire border with Cheshire, were designed by horticulturalist James Bateman as a ‘playful paradise’.
James took his massive collection of plants from around the globe and built entire worlds dedicated to them on his land, which are carefully preserved today by the National Trust.
The Egypt Garden
The Egypt garden at Biddulph Grange has an actual pyramid (okay, a topiary one) as its centrepiece.
It takes two or three men as many as two months every year to keep the yews trimmed into their ancient Egyptian-inspired shapes.
The living pyramid is surrounded by stone sphinxes and even a temple doorway, bearing an image of the sun god Ra.
Through the doorway and down a gloomy passage is a small chamber with a red stained-glass panel, where a statue of monkey god Thoth sits.
The China Garden
This garden within Biddulph Grange packs in tonnes of features inspired by Chinese gardens.
There’s a red and turquoise pagoda overlooking a small lake with a traditional bridge crossing it, a small joss house (or temple), a tower, and even its very own ‘Great Wall’.
Red dragons are carved into the lawns and a golden sacred water buffalo sculpture overlooks the whole scene.
The Italy Garden
Bateman built his mansion in an Italian style, and the formal tiered gardens around it reflect that.
The incredible terraces are packed with plants from around the world – it might be Italian in style, but Italian plants apparently don’t grow well on a wet and windy English hillside.
The Himalayan Glen
There aren’t many parts of the UK that could compare with the drama of the Himalayan mountains, but Biddulph Grange has tried to capture some of that magic in its glen area.
It’s filled with beautiful rock walls, streams, waterfalls and ferns.
There’s also a High Walk so you can take in the views of the garden from up high, before heading through to the tunnels that lead to the China Garden.
This unusual looking corner of the garden is The Stumpery, where dead tree stumps are used as scaffolding for climbing plants.
Biddulph Grange’s stumpery is the oldest in the country and has been copied by many other gardens, including at Highgrove, Prince Charles’ home in Gloucestershire.
This Tudor-style cottage dates back to 1856 and its facade includes the initials of James and his wife Maria.
The National Trust has drawn possible links between the Cheshire Cottage and Queen Victoria’s famous Swiss Cottage, which she built for her nine children around the same time.
In Bateman’s time, the cottage would have been the commanding focus surrounded by small trees – now it’s dwarfed by amazing mature conifers.
Biddulph Grange is open from 10am to 3.30pm, Saturday to Wednesday, throughout January.
It’s between 45 minutes and an hour to drive there from most parts of Greater Manchester.
You can also get there by taking the train to Congleton then a short bus ride on the 94 service to St Lawrence’s Church.
You can find out more about Biddulph Grange Garden at the National Trust website here.
Featured image: National Trust Images/John Miller
Things To Do
Peter Kay adds MORE dates to his massive UK tour – including extra Manchester shows
Peter Kay has added even more dates to his already-massive UK after teasing a “big announcement” was on its way.
In case you somehow missed it, Greater Manchester – and much of the UK, to be honest – went into a bit of a meltdown last month when the legendary Bolton-born comedian and actor announced that he is to play a whole slew of huge Manchester shows from this month as he makes a return to live comedy on his first stand-up tour in 12 years.
Rumours began circulating that the 49-year-old was preparing for a 2023 comeback tour earlier this year, but it was first confirmed that Kay was to first kick things off by doing two massive shows at the AO Arena on Friday 2 & Saturday 3 December 2022.
After that, the comic announced he would head on over to Birmingham to close out 2022, before making his way across the rest of the UK and Ireland in 2023.
Due to the absolutely overwhelming demand to see the comedy legend take to the stage for the first time in over a decade, with hundreds of thousands of people in online queues and tickets being snapped-up almost instantly when they went on sale, Kay decided to keep adding extra dates to the tour schedule to give all fans the chance to catch his comeback moment.
It may have just started out as two humble shows, but now, Kay is set to play a total of 42 gigs just at the AO Arena alone – running from December 2022 until May 2025.
Sales for this tour have also significantly surpassed the record Kay back in 2010 too, where he played to more than 1.2 million in a single tour.
The comedian said he was “absolutely blown away” by ticket sales.
His return to the stage after 12 years last weekend not only visibly moved Kay to tears, with heartwarming footage of the moment going viral on social media, but it also proved to be such a success with audiences that he took to Twitter on Wednesday to tease that more could be on its way – but didn’t reveal what exactly.
In a heartfelt message to fans, Kay said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to the first shows in Manchester. It was incredible to be part of such a happy experience. Everybody deserves a bit of joy.
“Here’s to a lot more in the shows to come.”
He then added that a “big announcement” was coming on the Sara Cox Drivetime Show on BBC Radio 2, and urged fans to tune in after 6pm.
While many were speculating, given the fact he had chosen to reveal the news on a Drivetime radio show, that Kay would be announcing more episodes of his beloved smash-hit TV series Peter Kay’s Careshare, but while that was a pretty educated guess, it wasn’t the announcement lined up.
Instead, Kay confirmed that, yet again, he would be adding more dates to his tour schedule.
Telling the also Bolton-born radio DJ, Kay said: “First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone who’s bought tickets to my tour, and I really do appreciate it.
“We’ve finally managed to book some more extra dates.”
Promising to keep prices as low as they were for his last tour, tickets for Peter Kay shows this time round start from £35 and go all the way up to £50, £65 and £135.
Tickets will go on sale this Sunday from 10am for shows in cities including Manchester at the AO Arena, as well as in Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Glasgow, and a whopping record-breaking 28th night at London’s O2 Arena as part of his residency.
Find out more and grab yours from See Tickets here when they go on sale.
Featured Image – BBC
Things To Do
Music from hit Christmas films to be brought to life by orchestra in festive concert
The same argument will happen every year like clockwork – what truly is the greatest Christmas film?
But one thing we can all agree on is that some of the best and most-loved movie soundtracks have stemmed from festive films.
And now all those movie greats will be brought to life on stage at The Bridgewater Hall, with a huge Christmas at the Movies event.
Taking place on Thursday 15 December at the beautiful theatre in Manchester city centre, a live orchestra will be performing songs from festive classics.
The Manchester Concert Orchestra, along with singers Laura Tebbutt and Patrick Smyth, plus the Canzonetta choir, will perform songs from films both new and old.
Family favourites like The Polar Express, The Chronicles of Narnia, Gremlins and Home Alone are all on the bill.
There’ll also be songs from all-time greats like White Christmas, The Snowman, and It’s a Wonderful Life.