A family which has owned a Yorkshire Dales mansion since the 17th century has unveiled plans to help restore its parklands to how they would have been when it was built for a duke heralded by King William III for his service in the Glorious Revolution.
Tom and Katie Orde-Powlett have lodged a proposal with Richmondshire District Council to reshape the natural and historic landscape of Bolton Hall, at the heart of Wensleydale.
While the hall is considered a particularly sensitive location being close to designated sites of special scientific interest and overlooked by the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the significant scheme has to date not drawn any objections.
The proposal is part of the Orde-Powlett’s ambition to make the heritage of its 12,000-acre estate and the 14th century Bolton Castle more accessible to the public while conserving the area’s nature.
The move follows Mr Orde Powlett’s father, Harry, the 8th Baron Bolton, restoring the castle’s medieval gardens and grounds in 1994 and the gardens at Bolton Hall as well as the introduction of falconry displays, archery, reenactment weekends and a sounder of wild boar on the estate.
If approved, the proposal would see a new avenue of trees planted from the hall to Lord’s Bridge by converting a corridor of intensive dairy grassland to low intensity, species rich grassland, a drive down the centre and a carriage sweep in front of the hall.
The papers state the plan for the parklands aims to follow the approach of the 17th and 18th centuries by restoring the link between the grade II listed hall and the River Ure “with a remarkable sightline that ran north-south from one ridge of the valley to the other through the centre of the house and the Lord’s Bridge”.
The documents state: “The whole landscape was organised along these north-south lines, running perpendicular to the grand east-west valley. Few baroque landscapes on this scale survive and it would be wonderful to reinstate the focal design that follows the earlier field patterns so simply and clearly.
“The hall could once more look down the historic avenue to the bridge and the river rather than across a patchwork of variously cropped and fertilised fields. The public can look back along the avenue to see the hall framed at its end. And the flow of wildlife, trees, hedges, water and biodiversity can be restored across the valley bottom.”
The planting scheme is part of a strategy for the estate, which already has some 1,300 acres of dedicated woodland and 300 acres of designated ancient woodland, centred more on conservation and habitat creation than commercial forestry.