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Cragside, Formal Gardens


The formal gardens are made up of terracing on three levels. The gardens are dominated by bold straight lines, ironwork and heavy stonework paths. The basic Victorian framework has largely survived.

The area of the formal gardens was in William George Armstrong's original purchase. It was originally small fields on a south facing slope with views over the coquet valley (Dixon, 2007: 38). Armstrong created terracing on three main levels.

The top terrace was originally dominated by a great glasshouse range which was divided into different sections. These included; the palm house, tropical and temperate ferneries, an orchid house and show house. The glasshouses were demolished during the 1920s but the walls and the rockwork in the two ferneries has survived (Dixon, 2007: 39). The original divisions are planted annually and the National Trust hope to restore the glasshouses.

The middle terrace is a broad lawn with banks to the east and south. This is also where the orchard house is located. Armstrong originally placed a heliograph or sun recorder in this area (Dixon, 2007: 40).

The lowest terrace, or Italian terrace has a loggia and the cottage which was the home of the estate manager.

Beside the orchard house is a large area devoted to carpet bedding. Since 1993 the National Trust has changed the design annually. The design usually pays reference to the Armstrong family or an anniversary (Dixon, 2007: 41).

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The gardens are open between March and December, but are closed on Mondays.


The site is 1 mile north of the town of Rothbury, off the B6341. Please see:


The National Trust

Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, SN2 2NA
Features & Designations


  • Tower
  • Description: The Clock Tower was created in the late-1860s in the gothic revival style. It has pointed windows, cross-loops and cottage gables below a three stage tower. The tower starts square, rises through an octagonal stage with four clock faces and then forms a belfry with a pointed roof and weather vane. The building was the estate time piece and pay office. The bell struck at the start and finish of work and at meal times. The National Trust restored the building in 1992.
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  • Orchard
  • House
  • Description: The orchard house has three sections. The middle is set forward and is slightly taller than the wings. There is a boiler in the basement which provides the heating system. Inside the glasshouse are sandstone steps where pots can be placed. Each pot is placed on a turntable to allow them to be turned easily. The National Trust restored the glasshouse in 1992 to 1994. All the trees are pre-1900 cultivars. Specimens include; figs, grapes, peaches, pears, mulberries, apricots, gages, lemons and oranges.
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  • Planted Walk
  • Description: The dahlia walk was restored in 1994. It originally dates back to the late-19th century but was removed in the 1920s. Seven hundred plants are planted annually. They are grouped in blocks of colour to provide a bold display.
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  • Loggia
  • Description: The loggia was originally created in 1870. It stands against the middle revetment wall on the lowest terrace. The loggia has a glass roof and sides but an open front. The cast-iron sections were probably made at Armstrong's Elswick works. The National Trust restored the loggia in 1992 to 1993.
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  • Garden Seat
  • Description: Alan Forster created the oak seat in 2006. It is located within the loggia.
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  • Garden Building
  • Description: The Cottage in the Park was created for the estate manager in about 1865. It is located at the west end of the lowest terrace. The building was extended in about 1890 to create an estate office. The National Trust now(2008) rent the two properties out as holiday cottages.
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  • Ornamental Pond
  • Description: The quatrefoil pool was restored by the National Trust in 2000. It originally dated back to the late-19th century but was removed in the 1920s to allow space for tennis.
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  • Bothy
  • Description: The bothy housed the duty gardeners. It is located behind a screen wall to the west of the top terrace.
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Key Information




Ornamental Garden


Part: standing remains



Open to the public


Civil Parish




  • Dixon, Hugh, {Cragside: The National Trust} (Swindon: The National Trust, 2007)