Founded as a medieval hospital but largely rebuilt in Tudor times, St Nicholas is the oldest continuously inhabited house in Richmond.
It has played its part in the long history of the charming cobbled market town, best known now for its Norman Castle, Georgian Theatre and popular walks above the tumbling river Swale.
Roughly 7 acres, the gardens of St Nicholas were designed and planted by the Hon Robert ‘Bobbie’ James at the start of the twentieth century as a series of garden rooms divided by hedges and walls of local stone, reminiscent of and contemporary with Hidcote gardens.
A Formal Garden bounded by topiary hedges, a Cottage Garden, Rock Garden, Potager and Herb Garden and the Long Borders are amongst the remaining compartments.
A multitude of Old Roses contribute to the always Romantic ambience – St Nicholas is the home of R. gallica ‘St Nicholas’ and the vigorous rambler R. ‘Bobbie James’. From the approach to the Field Walk there are stunning views across the pastures where the highland cattle graze towards the ruins of Easby Abbey.
After the death of Lady Serena James in 2000, St Nicholas became the home of Yorkshire sportsman Keith Schellenberg and his family. Keith is best known for his Captaincy of the British Olympic Bobsleigh Team in the ‘50’s and of the Yorkshire Rugby Team and for his long and successful vintage motor racing and rallying career. Some of his sporting equipment may be viewed on Garden Open days.
Two talented young gardeners, Iris and Luke, bring new vision and ideas to St Nicholas while continuing to garden with the guiding spirit of Bobbie James. Ongoing projects are the introduction of additional diversity in the meadow orchard, further encouragement for bees and butterflies, restoration of the ‘Nepalese Garden’, attention to the old apple trees, a methodical approach to the production of compost and propagation of existing inhabitants of the garden to ensure their survival.
We hope visitors will continue to enjoy our efforts to resurrect these once renowned gardens.