Heatwave drought reveals secret garden in stately home for first time in 300 years

Heatwave drought reveals secret garden in stately home for first time in 300 years

The intricate outline of a secret garden buried almost 300 years ago in a stately home that’s been featured in major films has been uncovered by drought.

The extreme temperatures brought on by the heatwave on Tuesday dried the grass of the South Lawn at Chatsworth House, in the Peak District, exposing the remains of the lost Great Parterre.

A parterre is a feature that was seen in upper class “formal” gardens, which was typically the part of the grounds nearest the house.

It typically consists of symmetrical patterns, made up of plant beds, low hedges or coloured gravels separated and connected by paths.

This particular parterre was seen outside the stately Chatsworth House, which featured in feature films such as Pride and Prejudice and The Duchess.

Chatsworth earns its keep as a tourist attraction rather than just a private home and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

The garden, a complex arrangement of flower beds and paths, was built for the Duke of Devonshire in 1699.

The Parterre, measuring 144 metres by 69 metres, was intended to provide a fitting setting for the south front of the Duke’s palace which is today one of Britain’s premier treasure houses.

The Grand Parterre was covered over in 1730 but because the grass on the present-day lawn has shorter roots, it burns more quickly. The outline of the older garden, designed during the reign of William of Orange, is thereby revealed.

Chatsworth’s head of gardens and landscape Steve Porter, said: “The current heatwave is causing us issues elsewhere in the garden but here it has revealed a hidden gem not enjoyed properly for nearly 300 years.

“We knew it was there but of course, it’s normally a green lawn so everything is hidden. It is only revealed during periods of extreme heat, so climate change may make that more frequent in the years ahead.

“It will disappear again when temperatures drop and we get some rain but in the meantime, it’s wonderful to get a glimpse back into the past.”