Christopher Naylor was born in Cheshire in 1849. Soon after, the family moved to Leighton Hall in Montgomeryshire, where his father extended and improved the estate on a lavish scale. At the age of 13, he entered the Britannia Royal Naval College, remaining in naval service until 1872. He married in 1874, and inherited the Leighton estate in 1889. He inherited a further estate at Haggerston Castle from his uncle, Thomas Leyland, in 1891, for which he was obliged to change his name to Leyland.
Leyland passed the Leighton estate to his brothers, and moved to Haggerston. He began to re-build the mansion and improve the estate. Features included a menagerie of exotic animals, a palm house, walled gardens, observatory, arboretum and Italianate pleasure gardens. The house was re-built again after a fire in 1911, and was then requisitioned as a military hospital during World War 1.Leyland moved to a dower house in Northumberland, where he died of cancer in 1926. The Haggerston estate was sold and its contents dispersed in 1931.
The leylandii for which Leyland is known were not really noted during his lifetime. In 1888, Leyland had noted seedlings of Nootka cypress which had accidentally been cross-pollinated from a nearby Monterey cypress. The plants grew well at Haggerston and proved very hardy and fast-growing. They were eventually named Cupressocyparis (Cupressus x Chamaecyparis) leylandii. The leylandii gained Royal Horticultural Society awards in 1941 and 1969, but have since proved controversial.
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