The history of Betley Court
The gardens date from 1716, when local attorney-at-law, John Craddock relocated to Betley and built a house on the site of ‘Saxon’s House’ on the road between Newcastle-under-Lyme and Nantwich.
The first record of landscaping taking place at Betley Court is in 1785, when notable garden designer, William Emes, a confrère of ‘Capability’ Brown. Emes created a picturesque landscape, using bands of broadleaf trees to draw the eye towards Betley Mere, Staffordshire largest pool of standing water. [William Emes' Plan reproduced by kind permission of Staffordshire Record Office]
The Victorian Era
Later, in 1865 William Barron, known as ‘the Great Tree Mover’ devised an Italianate parterre on a lowered lawn. The magnificent Cedar of Lebanon in the centre of the lawn was moved as a semi-mature tree by him.
In the Victorian era the gardens were extended to include the dell known as ‘The Dingle’ and a lake created by damming Tanhouse Brook. Barron’s ornate parterre was replaced by the flower border scheme as it is today in the early 20th century, credited to celebrated garden designer Thomas Mawson.
The 20th Century
During World War Two, the gardens became therapy grounds when Betley Court served as an orthopedic unit for recuperating servicemen. Sports like cricket, and badminton, and horticultural therapy were practiced on the lawns, and therapeutic walks encouraged around the lake. This continued during the early days of the NHS, when the house became Betley Court Rehabilitation Centre (1948-1965). Photo: curtesy of Douglas Hulme and family
The house stood empty for 13 years, until the Brown family bought it in 1977, restored it and converted it into 14 flats to maintain the house financially. They’ve made their own additions to the gardens including re-establishing the flower borders, introducing specimen trees, and wildflower planting.