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Grinkle Park


The designed landscape of Grinkle Park has been developed by its owners over the last 200 years. Part of the Manor of Easington and Boulby belonging to the Conyers family from the early 16th century, it was originally a farmstead that was sold off in 1715..

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Grinkle Park is 4 km (2.5 miles) south east of Loftus, between Guisborough and Whitby. The historic designed landscape developed by its owners over the last 200 years covered 145 ha (358 acres).

The northern boundary is formed by the northern extent of ‘North Plantation’ and Snipe Lane, then runs east along the northern edge of Grinkle Wood until the parish boundary with Roxby. The eastern boundary follows the parish line until the southernmost extent of Grinkle Wood. The southern boundary is formed by Grinkle Wood and Greenhow Wood until it reaches Grinkle. The western boundary follows Grinkle Lane north until the start of ‘Stripe Plantation’ when it runs along the western edge of the plantations.

The underlying bedrock is Scalby Formation - Sandstone, Siltstone and Mudstone. The western section of the park, covering Low Moor Plantation, is overlaid with glaciofluvial deposits of sand and gravel, with the rest of the site having superficial (finer) deposits. This means the site has slightly acid loamy and clayey soils with impeded drainage. George Abbey described the ground thus: ‘soil a peaty loam with a variable subsoil, mostly sand, gravelly, or rocky’ (JH 16 August 1877, ‘Yorkshire Fruit Crops’).

Grinkle is in the North York Moors National Park Authority’s Landscape Characterisation of ‘Coast and Coastal Hinterland’, characterised by areas of farmland interspersed with steep valleys that follow the becks [streams] to the coast and areas of woodland, some of which are ancient. The estate lies in a valley between open moorland to the west and south, woodland to the east and open farmland to the north. The main house is at 161 m AOD and the land slopes down eastwards towards Grinkle Wood from c. 180 m OD on Grinkle Lane to c. 120m OD at Easington Beck. From the edge of the southern pleasure grounds the land rises again to a height of c. 175 m AOD in the former parkland and falls again towards the southern part of Grinkle Wood and Greenhow Wood at c. 160 m OD.

Entrances and Approaches

Grinkle Lodge, just off Grinkle Lane, was built before 1893, possibly as part of the other works 1881-3. From this leads the main carriageway to the house;; this predates the lodge and was in place following the building of the first house in the 1780s. With the building of the current house, it was slightly remodelled. The northern section goes through Lowmoor Plantation but the planting in the southern part dates from the 1870s and includes some specimen rhododendrons and trees that may date to the 19th century.

Principal Buildings

Grinkle Park was built in 1881-3 by the architect Alfred Waterhouse to replace former house of the 1780s. It is constructed of local stone and has a conservatory attached. The Stable Block was built in 1881-3 by the architect Alfred Waterhouse. Listed Grade II [NHLE 1312788]

The Icehouse first appears on the 1893 OS map in an area called ‘Tan Hill’ and previously parkland. Access to the site is currently restricted but it may be the one Abbey described in his article (JH 8 February 1872, ‘Ice Storing No 1’). It was unusual in being rectangular on the outside and measured 36 feet long, 22 feet wide, 7 feet deep at the south end and 5 feet at the north. Abbey’s proposal was to make the exterior of wood with a thatched roof and seats outside to make ‘over the ice a summer-house’ (ibid). It was to be placed in a prominent position, possibly to match the summerhouse on the raised ground to the south.

The Summerhouse first appears on the 1893 OS map. In Grinkle Wood south east of the house. Its position was designed to afford views over the parkland to the south and to the house and pleasure grounds to the north.

The Greenhouse (Conservatory) is attached to the old house and built before 1826: ‘Your report of the Green-house is very favourable & quite accords with Mrs Myddleton’s account, your offer of a plan of it, is not to be resisted’ (DULSC WHA.726). Demolished with the old house.

The Boathouse is first shown on the 1893 map, likely to date from the remodelling of the Fishpond after 1865.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

There is little information about the gardens prior to the purchase of the estate by Palmer, except for the reference in one of the sales advertisements of the 1830s of ‘flower gardens and shrubberies’. On the 1st edition OS of 1853, there is little detail except perhaps for the orchard shown by three lines of trees next to Grinkle Wood. When George Abbey arrived c. 1870, he substantially remodelled them. Some of this planting, particularly the trees, may survive from Abbey’s time or possibly before. During two site visits (20 November 2017 and 26 February 2018), the following were observed in the southern pleasure grounds: pines (possibly Austrian and Scots) on the south side; Portuguese laurel planted against the parkland fencing; Portuguese laurel, mature box and specimen rhododendrons on the path south to the boundary; Wellingtonias; other mature conifers and two limes near the pond. Along the carriageway, there are a pair of possibly Old Lawson’s cypress on west side of drive near the southern edge of Lowmoor Plantation and more specimen rhododendrons.

One of the main projects was to have a rose garden. In 1872, he observed: ‘How fond rabbits and hares are of Roses! We planted some last spring in masses and no sooner had they made shoots a few inches long than they were eaten…The following are good here:- Countess of Oxford, Baroness Rothschild, La France, John Hopper, Edward Morren, Alfred Colomb, Charles Lefebvre, Comtesse de Chabrillaint, Senateur Vaisse, Thyra Hammerick, Xavier Olibo, Princess Christian, Maurice Bernardin, Marie Baumann, Marguerite de St Amand, Charles Rouillard, Duke of Edinburgh and Gloire de Dijon.’ (JH 19 December 1872, ‘Jottings on this Year’s Gardening’). Four years later, he updated the readers on its progress: ‘I was told the other day that my Roses looked as if they wanted ‘more shelter’. Why not give them it-a hedge of Yew or similar wind-screen?...Instead, therefore, of forming fields by enclosing an open space with a hedge I have introduced groups of Roses to harmonise with the irregularity of the groups of trees and evergreens…The plants for an exposed position are dwarfs…Had I had my own way I certainly should have gone to the extent of a rosery – hid the noblest of flowers behind a hedge; but the fact was, they as shrubs must take their position as such or not at all. It is only just to say that they attract much attention and elicit great admiration…We commenced with many kinds, but each year has considerably reduced their number; their place has been taken by such as succeeded, and which were free in growth and flower, and have proved suitable for an exposed situation.’ (JH 21 September 1876, ‘Roses in an exposed situation’). Although noted in the 1946 sale brochure, we do not know its exact position.

Kitchen Garden

The walled kitchen garden was originally constructed in the 1780s for the first house. It measured just over half an acre and remained unchanged until Palmer’s purchase in 1865. It had two hothouses in 1834 and these are shown on the north wall on the OS map. In the 1870s, Abbey says that they had two peach houses, a late vinery and a lean-to small vinery that was 12 feet wide. He also mentioned that ‘I have a 60-feet run of lean-to frames divided into fourteen lights, which are used for Lettuces to come early in spring…The frames are only 4 feet wide and are not heated’ (JH, 28 September 1876, ‘Melons destitute of flavour – growing in cold frames’)

By 1893, it had expanded significantly to 1.7 acres perhaps when the other works were taking place on the estate between 1881 and 1883. A large freestanding glasshouse was constructed and more were added along the northern wall. These were all intact, together with potting sheds, mushroom house and boiler house when the estate was sold in 1946.

In his articles, Abbey describes many of the varieties of fruit and vegetables that he grew during the 20 years he was head gardener. Here is one of his reports from 1872 (JH, ‘Jottings on this Year’s Gardening’, 28 November):

‘The present has been a most disastrous season for fruit…The disasters of the fruit crop began with bullfinches clearing the Plums of every fruit-bud…except for those of a tree on a west wall…It is the Prince of Wales…Apricots and Peaches none. Our trees are young, those having older trees have not had fruit.

Pears had plenty of blossom. The only kinds that have produced fruit are Jargonelle, Doyenne d’Ete, Williams’s Bon Chretien, Beurre Diel, Comte de Lamy, Zephirin Gregoire and Bergamotte Esperen…Against walls the only kinds that fruited were Beurre d’Amanlis, Beurre Superfin, Louise Bonne de Jersey, Beurre Diel, General Todtleben, Van Mons Leon le Clerc and Alexandre Bivort.

Apples…The kinds that have borne a full crop are Warner’s King, Bedfordshire Foundling, Norfolk Bearer and Northern Greening. Keswick Codling had a full crop…The other kinds that had fruit were Cox’s Pomona and Ribston Pippin. Cherries were a total failure, even the Morello failed.

Of Raspberries we had a good crop. Fastolf grows very strong here…Our Raspberry plantation has not had the soil moved with either a spade or fork these three seasons…I shall continue with it, and not only with Raspberries, but with Blackcurrants…plantations of Gooseberries and Red Currants…Strawberries were good…

Respecting in-door fruits…Grapes have…coloured very badly. Melons…have not done well. I allude to dung beds…Paterson’s Superb, Cox’s Golden Gem, Gilbert’s Victory of Bath…did not fruit well, William’s Paradise Gem…As to Cucumbers, Cox’s Volunteer beats all for prolific, early and continued bearing and uniform good quality.’


The first part of Grinkle Park was created before 1801 and consisted of an open area of c. 6 acres to the east of the house and called ‘Hall Field’ in the tithe map and sale documents. By 1838, this had expanded to the north and west and covered in all just under 29 acres. By 1893, it had reached its maximum extent of 188 acres. Most of the clumps of trees within it had been cleared and some replanted by 1946 (NYCRO K).

Lowmoor Plantation later Fishpond Wood was created following the enclosure of 1808, it covered just under 23 acres. By 1893, it had been extended south and measured 35.6 acres. The sale catalogue of 1946 (NYCRO K) described it as ‘a very valuable area of matured woodland and young plantation…included with the land is the valuable standing Timber mainly soft woods, fully matured and clean grown and on the North a young plantation of soft woods’.

Parts of Grinkle Wood, running either side of the Beck, were extant by 1817 and by 1838, it was a continuous belt of trees. By the time of the sale in 1946, it was still in-situ and listed as covering 39 acres (northern half) with southern half part of lot with Greenhow Wood of 30 acres.

Greenhow Wood forms the southern boundary of the estate; this wood was extant by 1817. By 1838 it covered just over 22 acres.

Starvation Clump was planted before 1893, possibly c. 1870 as part of landscaping by George Abbey. By 1946, it had been cleared and replanted, around it was an iron fence (NYCRO K). Greenhow Plantation [Clump] was planted before 1893, possibly c. 1870 as part of landscaping by George Abbey.

Stripe Plantation was created following the enclosure of 1808 but cleared by the time of the sale in 1946. Now replanted; North Plantation was created following the enclosure of 1808 but cleared by the time of the sale in 1946. Now replanted; and South Plantation was created following the enclosure of 1808 but cleared by the time of the sale in 1946. Now replanted.

Of the ponds and streams, Fishpond (although not shown on the tithe map or sale plans) is likely to have been made at the same time as Lowmoor Plantation c. 1820s and was remodelled after 1865 and covered 1.75 acres in 1946. Southern pond is the larger of the two areas of water created in the southern pleasure grounds after 1865 and Northern pond was built after 1865, just south of Lowmoor Plantation in the northern parkland; it is circular and may have been used to collect ice for the icehouse.

A Stream leading from the southern pond, this was developed after 1865 with a series of man-made waterfalls.

Primary sources

Borthwick Institute for Archives (BIA)

  • Vol.109, f.391 Will of Robert Hartas, Lyth. Yeoman. Dated 25th June 1765, proved 12th August 1765. Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York Probate Index
  • Vol.109, f.393 Will of Robert Hill, Grinkill, Easington. Gentleman. Dated 12th June 1764, proved 19th August 1765. Prerogative & Exchequer Courts of York Probate Index
  • Durham University Library Special Collections (DULSC)
  • BAK 28/2 Grant by Nicholas Conyers of Boulby to John Tempest and Thomas Lambton of an annuity of £200, [12] October 1651
  • BAK 28/4 Copy of release by Nicholas Conyers to Nicholas Frevile and John Tempest of the Capital Messuage, Township and Village of Scaling, the Rigg-Farm, Rowsgate-Holme, Rays-Farm, and Greenkall… to the use and behoof of Nicholas Conyers and his heirs on the body of Margaret Lambton, 10 November 1664
  • BAK 29/22a Lease for a year by Thomas Conyers to Richard Bellasyse and William Lee of the Village or Township of Scaling in the County of York and the lands and tenements commonly called Rigg-Farm, Ronsgateholm, Small Oaks, Rays Farm and Greenkall, 21 September 1710
  • WHA.762 Letter from Margaret Wharton to William Lloyd Wharton, 25 September 1826
  • WHA.823 Letter from S[ophia] Myddleton to William Lloyd Wharton, 11 December [1834]
  • WHA.824 Letter from S.M. (Sophia Myddleton) to William Lloyd Wharton, 8 March [1837?]
  • WHA.827 Letter from Anne Wharton to William Lloyd Wharton, 31 October 1839

Hull History Centre (HHC)

  • U DDCV/184/90 Sale catalogue for the Manor of Easington and Boulby including Grinkle Park Estate, 1844

National Archives (NA)

  • IR 30/42/112 Tithe map of Easington, 1838
  • PROB 11 1359 260 Will of Sir Thomas Heron Myddleton Bt of Grinkle Park, dated 20th October 1796, proved 22nd June 1801

North Yorkshire County Record Office (NYCRO)

  • I Easington Low and High Moor enclosure map, 1817
  • K Sale catalogue for the Grinkle Park Estate, 1946
  • ZMP 1.2 Easington: deeds for the Grinkle estate, owned by R Wharton Myddleton in 1811, 1715-1811
  • ZMP 1.3 Easington: deeds for Greenhowe, purchased by RW Myddleton in 1812, 1802-1856
  • ZMP 1.4 Scaling: deeds for Rigg Close, Low Close alias Low Bottoms & Short Butts (also called the Ridings), a strip of land and a dwelling house, stable & water corn mill built on Low Close purchased by RW Myddleton in 1817, 1792-1817
  • ZMP 1.5 Scaling: deeds for messuage & 8 closes purchased by RW Myddleton in 1817, 1730-1817
  • ZMP 1.6 Scaling: deeds for messuage & barn and close called Howe Field, and Pasture Hill and North & South Howe, and orchard & garth, and a narrow strip of land, purchased by trustees for RW Myddleton in 1819, 1782-1819
  • ZMP 1.7 Scaling: deeds for Rayes farm alias the Low Wood (15ac.), purchased by R.W. Myddleton in 1821, 1716-1821

Teesside Archives (TA)

  • U/GPE/8 Plan of Manor & Estates of Easington and Boulby and Grinkle Park (copied from mortgage), 5 April 1865


  • Ordnance Survey 6” 1st edition, surveyed 1853, published 1856
  • Ordnance Survey 6” 2nd edition, surveyed 1893, published 1895
  • Ordnance Survey 6” Rev edition, surveyed 1913, published 1919
  • Ordnance Survey 25” 1st edition, surveyed 1893, published 1894

Newspapers and Magazines

  • Jarrow Express
  • Northern Echo
  • The Gardeners’ Chronicle
  • The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener and Country Gentleman
  • The North-Eastern Daily Gazette
  • The Scotsman
  • Whitby Gazette
  • Yorkshire Gazette
Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01287 640515

Access contact details

Grinkle House is now run as a Hotel and is not otherwise open to the public.


Grinkle Park is 4 km (2.5 miles) south east of Loftus, between Guisborough and Whitby.


In the Domesday Book, Easington and Boulby were part of the manor of South Loftus (, consulted 5 February 2018). By 1301-2, the township of Easington together with the hamlets of Boulby and Scaling were assessed as one unit for the lay subsidy with a William de Grenkelde listed (Brown 1897, 26-45). The same (or another) William de Grenkeld was assessed at 12d. for the lay subsidy in Easington in 1327–8 (VCH 1923, 340-343).

Grinkle (also Greenkall, Grenckall, Grinkill or Grink hill) is first mentioned in a document of 1651 as part of the properties of Nicholas Conyers: ‘Manors and Lordships of Easington, Boulby…Grenckall and other properties in the County of York’ (DULSC BAK 28/2). On the 21 September 1710, Thomas Conyers granted a lease for a year to Richard Bellasyse ‘of the Village or Township of Scaling in the County of York and the lands and tenements commonly called…Greenkall, all within the Parish of Easington’ (DULSC BAK 29/22a). Judging by these and subsequent documents, Grinkle was a farmstead with surrounding land.

On the 2/3 November 1715, Thomas Conyers sold ‘Greenkall’ to Robert Hill. In the documents it is referred to as ‘messuage or tenement and farme commonly called by the name of Greenkall also Greenkall farm and all those several closes or parcels of ground to the said…farme …commonly called…the Eweridge the Calf House Field the Wheat Bank the Hay Whales the Moldikes the Bent Field the Bank the Ings the Middle Field the Cowpasture commonly called Barkhouse Garth the little

Ings the Cow Intack the Moor Intack the High Garth and Low Garth…situated and being in Scaling in the parish of Easington…in the possession or occupation of Daniell Howard as tenant or farmer thereof under the said Thomas Conyers at…the yearly rent of twenty eight pounds…and are butting and bounding on the Lordship of Rousby [Roxby] on or towards the West North and East and on Easington moor and on the several Lands of Richard Corney, George Hebron and William Campion on or towards the South which lands were bought…of…Thomas Conyers…Together with all…houses outhouses tanhouses edifices buildings barns stables orchards yards garths gardens meadows pastures seedings commons moors wastes waste grounds common of pastures Common of Turbary Heath Brarkon’s furzes and other common woods underwoods trees hedges hedgerows ways waters watering places paths passages’ (NYCRO ZMP 1.2).

When George Hartas et al leased Grinkle to Sir Thomas Heron Myddleton in 1775, it was described as being: ‘occupied in one farm commonly called…Greenkall otherwise Greenkell otherwise Grinkill farm and all those several closes of lands…The Eweridge the Calf House Field now divided into three closes the Wheat Bank the Hay-Whales the Meldikes the Benfield now divided into two Closes the Bank the Ings now divided into four closes the Middlefield the Cow pasture commonly called Barkhouse garth the little Ings now divided into two closes the Cow Intack the Moor Intack the Highgarth and Lowgarth otherwise Tanhouse garth…in…the parish of Easington…and were late in the several occupations of… Robert Hill and William Butterwick…and are now in the occupation of Jonathan Pinder’ (NYCRO ZMP 1.2).

Myddleton completed the purchase of the estate in 1779 and renamed it ‘Grinkle Park’. He built a new house, which was described in 1802 as a ‘capital messuage or mansion house erected and built by Sir Thomas Heron Myddleton upon the site of several Messuages or Tenements and Grounds’ (NYCRO ZMP 1.2). To the north of the mansion he probably added the walled kitchen garden and other service buildings that are first seen on the Enclosure map of 1817 (NYCRO I). To the south and west of the house was an open area later called ‘Lawn’ and ‘Hall Field’ (HHC U DDCV/184/90) of 4 and 6 acres respectively. Further to the east was a plantation running along the Beck later named ‘Grinkle Wood’ of 23 acres. It was noted that ‘the woods at Grinkel…contribute much to the beauty of Cleveland’ (Young 1817, 804).

3.3 Chronological history of the designed landscape

3.3.1 1811 – 1865

All references ‘JH’ are from The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener and Country Gentleman

Robert Wharton Myddleton inherited the bulk of his cousin’s estate in 1801 but not the main house and its surrounding land. Under the terms of Heron Myddleton’s will (NA PROB 11 1359 260), his widow was allowed to stay there for a year, after that it was sold to fund his granddaughter’s marriage settlement. Wharton clearly wanted this part of the estate and managed to finally acquire it in 1811. With the Enclosure Act of the Low and High Moor in Easington of 1808 (NYCRO ZMP 1.2) and the acquisition of Greenhow Farm to the south in 1812, he was therefore planning to develop the landscape. Greenhow (farm plus c. 100 acres) was previously the property of the Sir Griffith Boynton 6th Bt (d 1778) as part of the Manor of Rousby [Roxby]. He sold it to George Dodds who in turn had sold it to William Ward Jackson (NYCRO ZMP 1.3).

Wharton Myddleton acquired further land in the township of Scaling to the south between 1817 and 1821 (NYCRO 1.4, 1.5, 1.6 & 1.7). J Walker Ord in his book (1846, 286) described the house as ‘a plain building situated in Grinkle Park, a romantic place south of Roxby’. He also claimed that ‘at a time when literature still remained in esteem, he [Thomas Wharton, father of Robert] was a friend of the poet Gray, who dated many letter from Old Park [their estate in Durham], and by his residence at Grinkle, rendered it classic ground’ (ibid). Thomas Wharton died in 1794 so he must have confused father and son.

By the 1820s, Wharton Myddleton and his predecessor had created a desirable designed landscape. In a letter from Margaret Wharton to her nephew in 1826, she noted: ‘We…lamented your having such an unfavourable day for your Journey - & the more so considering where you were bound well knowing the unfavourable effect of a N.E. wind upon Grinkle and its beauties’ (DULSC WHA.726).

The main changes following enclosure are shown on the tithe map of 1838 (NA IR 30/42/112). Most significant to the north of the house was the creation of ‘Low Moor Plantation’ and its ‘Fishpond’ of 22 acres, the latter created probably to aid drainage. The carriage route from Grinkle Lane had crossed the south west section of this area, so the plantation would have afforded some privacy from the public road and the quarry on the other side of the road. On either side of the quarry were ‘Nursery Plantations’ along the western side of Grinkle Lane that had been acquired through enclosure (NYCRO I).

More plantations were added along length of the beck (stream) to create an unbroken belt along the eastern edge of the estate. Three nursery plantations were created near to the house on its north western side and on either side of the carriageway. A series of fields were opened up between Low Moor Plantation and the house to create open parkland of 11 acres, called ‘Road Pasture’. Finally the carriageway was extended south past the house, across the beck to Grinkle (or Scaling) Mill, bought by Myddleton in 1817.

On Myddleton’s death in 1834, the house contents were put up for sale, together with some oak timber (Yorkshire Gazette, 25 October). In December 1834, his widow, Sophia, decided to move out (DULSC WHA.824). The following year, the whole estate was put up for sale (Yorkshire Gazette, 19 December):

The Grinkle Park Estate…comprising the Manor of Easington and Bowlby in the North Riding of the County of York…comprising about 2,800 acres of arable, meadow, pasture, wood and moorland; between 2 and 300 acres being fine old Oak, Ash and other Timber; about 500 acres awarded Moor Land and Plantations…The Mansion House and Buildings…comprise…two Hothouses, Greenhouse, Kitchen and Flower Gardens, Shrubberies….

In 1837, there were possible plans to transfer trees to the Wharton’s main property at Old Park, as Sophia Myddleton wrote to William Wharton; ‘Thos Abrams asks whether you intend to lift Oaks at Grinkle this year and the Young Ladies here now craving for Nursery are also hoping you do’ (DULSC WHA.827). It was put up for sale again in 1839 (Yorkshire Gazette, 12 January):

The Grinkle Park Estate…with the capital Mansion House, Gardens [kitchen garden], Hothouses, Pleasure Grounds…The Mansion comprises…Greenhouse [Conservatory] connected with Dining Room…The whole Estate is Freehold and lies altogether. It is richly wooded with fine Oak, Ash and

other Timber…besides having Plantations of nearly 30 years’ growth in eligible situations on other parts of the Estate…

It did not sell and later that year, William Lloyd Wharton decided to give up the management of his estates, including Grinkle (DULSC WHA.827). In 1844, it was offered again for sale in two lots: Grinkle Park Mansion and all the Farms (2155 acres) as one and the remaining 500 acres of ‘Moor Allotments’ as the other (Yorkshire Gazette, 6 July). Lot 8 had the following: Grinkle Park, Mansion, Coach-House, Stables etc (Total 377 acres); Woodland, 114 acres; Water, 4 acres. The sale catalogue for the auction on the 13th July 1844 (HHC U DDCV/184/90) shows a landscape unchanged from the earlier tithe map, with the main lot focusing on ‘Grinkle Farm’.

It however remained with the Wharton family until 1865 when it was bought by Charles Mark Palmer. Sophia Myddleton Wharton and her daughter, Henrietta, were recorded in the 1851 census living at Grinkle Park once more. After Sophia’s death in 1858, Henrietta was listed at Grinkle in the 1861 census. No gardeners are listed at the property for either year, so it is unlikely that further work was done on the landscape. The designed landscape during this period can be seen on the 1st edition 6” OS map, surveyed in 1853. There are areas of parkland to the north and to the south with pleasure grounds near the house. There are paths through Lowmoor Plantation in addition to the main carriage route. It also shows the walled kitchen garden with its hothouses on the northern walls. These are perhaps are the ones described later by Abbey: ‘we have two Peach houses’ (JH 9 March 1871, ‘Ice vs Glass’), ‘I have a late vinery’ (JH 22 February 1872, ‘Late Grapes’) and ‘the small house [vinery]…is a low lean-to-half a foot of wall above ground and 3 feet of glass in front, 11 feet high at the back and 12 feet wide’ (JH 17 June 1875, ‘Gros Guillaume Grape’).

3.3.2 1865 – 1907

Following Palmer’s purchase, it was noted that ‘the hall at Grinkle has been considerably altered and improved, and the whole estate undergoing a rapid change for the better’ (Yorkshire Gazette, 24 August 1867). About 1870, Palmer engaged a new head gardener, George Abbey (c. 1836 – 1917). From 1863, Abbey had been a regular columnist for the leading gardening magazine The Journal of Horticulture, cottage gardener and country gentlemen and perhaps this is why he got the job. Judging by his articles he was well versed in all aspects of horticulture. While most are general in nature, he does give us some insight into the work he carried out at Grinkle Park.

On the 1 December 1870, Abbey wrote: ‘Now, I am in the north-east corner of North Yorkshire, about 300 feet above the sea and perhaps three miles from it as the crow flies, exposed to its full effects when the wind blows from the east. South, and to a great extent westward, there are miles of moor. What succeeds here will do so almost anywhere. I must however state we are well sheltered to the north by plantations’ (JH, ‘Fruit Trees for Small Gardens’).

His views on landscaping were no doubt influenced by the latest ideas laid out in the gardening press by William Paul, William Robinson and others. They advocated a return to more ‘natural’ gardening that had been popular at the end of the 18th century and had been refined in the early 19th century. These ‘gardenesque principles’ had been championed by Robert Marnock since the 1830s but had fallen out of favour with the dominance of the formal Italianate style in the 1840s and 1850s. One of Marnock’s protégés, William Robinson, championed his style of ‘predominantly exotic planting, planned for colour effect and botanical variety, employing a scatter of distinct specimens where

important views would not be affected’ (Elliott 1986, 169). William Paul, in a series of articles in The Gardeners’ Chronicle in 1864 (27 August, 3 September, 17 September, 8 October, 29 October and 26 November), urged the readers to use different coloured trees and shrubs to create what he described as ‘pictorial trees’.

It was not until his lecture to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1870, which was reprinted in the gardening magazines, that his ideas were taken up enthusiastically (Elliott 2007, 76). Abbey though immediately responded positively to his ideas. In his article ‘A Plea for Trees, Shrubs, and Some Other Plants in Flower Gardens’ (JH 21 November & 19 December 1865), he says ‘one of the great defects of modern gardens is their uninteresting appearance in winter, spring, and early summer…yet there is no deficiency of shrubs and other plants that are interesting…and…several…are of a character to afford gratification all the year, and some flower at an early period of the season…In short, our gardens lack variety and intricacy as to form, material and arrangement…the generally monotonous effect of our gardens ought to be changed by introducing shrubs and plants that would form no impediment to the flowers…but be rival objects of beauty, whilst heightening the effect of the whole’.

In an article of 1885, Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire was noted for its imaginative planting of trees and shrubs by colour (The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 27 June) and Abbey was planning to do the same in the woods at Grinkle: ‘The beauty of the Purple Beech in landscape scenes and ornamental forestry, its fitness for affording variety to the monotonous green of our woodlands…the adoption of this and other deciduous trees with coloured foliage at planting would be a means of giving charm to our woods they do not at present possess. What our woods need is colour with a grouping of the subjects so as to give distinct varied features…they would be vastly improved in effect by adding in conspicuous places groups of deciduous trees with coloured leafage’ (JH 18 September 1873, ‘The Purple Beech’).

Specifically on laying out these woods and pleasure grounds, he wrote in 1870: ‘I purpose at this stage to offer to the notice of intending planters some suggestions on the distribution of trees and shrubs in parks and pleasure grounds. The best and the true mode of arranging trees, shrubs, and other plants so as to produce effect is, without dispute, massing them…The ideal of the painter is Nature…Some have an idea that the best effect is attained by a promiscuous assemblage of the different species and varieties of trees, shrubs…[however] Nature’s principle of planting is in masses’ (JH 8 December, ‘Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs No 6’). He illustrates this with different species of the same genera e.g. oaks, chestnuts, pines and firs or ‘if near pleasure grounds, it might be desirable to employ shrubs’ (ibid).

His advice for ‘the groups dividing flower gardens or pleasure grounds and parks, or those planted for shelter or other objects, [also] afford scope for a display of trees and shrubs on the massing system quite as well as, or even better than a group to which access can be had from all sides…is a group of this kind planted as a division between the park and pleasure ground, which are separated from each other by iron fencing…In arranging shrubs in groups or shrubbery borders there can be no question that of all the systems the massing is the best’ (JH 29 December 1870, ‘Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs No 7’).

While it is not clear that he implemented any of the above schemes exactly at Grinkle, he was making changes to the landscape. In 1872, he wrote: ‘I want to be informed what will serve as shelter to a spot 500 feet above the sea level, four miles distant…from the sea, with nothing to break

the force of the wind from Norway on the north-east and Denmark east, whilst south-eastward it is fully exposed to the sweep of the wind from the North Sea. Northwards there are some hills and a badly-wooded country, the woods being in the hollows, and a wood within half a mile, so that there is not much to complain of in that direction; but from the north-west to the south-east there is no shelter by Heath-clad hills. The first subject that I will name is Pinus Laricio…Young trees from 12 to 15 inches high are sufficiently large, but those I plant for shelter are stiff plants, from 2 to 3 feet high, grown thinly…I give the height of two young trees, also of one of the Austrian Pine, and of the White Spruce (JH 13 June, ‘Pinus Laricio (The Corsican Pine)’). In a later article (JH 13 May 1875), he advises on how to lay out these. This may well be the extension south of Lowmoor Plantation along Grinkle Lane, the addition of ‘Starvation Clump’ east of the Hall, ‘Round Clump’ to the south and ‘Greenhowe Plantation’ to the south west.

In 1876, he noted: ‘We are seeking to afford the requisite shelter, not to anything in particular, but to everything in general, by planting groups of trees and shrubs, mostly evergreen, and these are disposed in the natural or picturesque style, all the lines being curves and all the figures irregular. To introduce a hedge with either curved or straight outline would be to make a penfold quite out of harmony with the surroundings’ (JH 21 September 1876, ‘Roses in an exposed situation’).

One of the distinct features of the pleasure grounds to the south of the house were the large areas of trees and shrubs in the lawn, shown on the 25” OS map, surveyed in 1893. Abbey had described his approach in 1876: ‘If trees or shrubs and flowers are to be exhibited on the same lawn they will always be most effective when displayed in separate beds, the trees being planted in the background or point most distant from the eye, shrubs in the mid-distance, with the flower beds in the foreground, grouping each by themselves…Another very desirable mode of introducing beds and borders of flowers is to enclose an open space with shrubs. Evergreens are generally chosen of such a kind as naturally grow compact or that admit of being cut into shape. It is considered that dark and shining foliage, as that of the Yew, Holly, Laurel, and Rhododendron, form the best of foils to masses of colour…As to the form of the outline or screen, if the outline of the beds for flowers be scrolls – regular or symmetrical or geometrical-the outline of the shrubs will best accord by being kept formal and regular; but if the beds are of irregular forms at irregular distances, the shrubs surrounding must be allowed to assume more of their natural forms…I would plant the most light, ornamental, and flowering shrubs where they would just be seen amongst and through the interstices of the evergreens, in such a way as to display their foliage and flowers to the eye of the spectator. Evergreens as a rule should preponderate near the residence, and by judiciously employing variegated kinds much would be added in giving variety, especially in winter’ (JH 26 October, ‘Deciduous Trees and Shrubs’).

Abbey may well have replanted the large orchard to the east of the house and shown by a series of lines of trees on the OS map to the east of the Hall. In 1877, he reported ‘in the orchard, which is not less than 100 feet lower than the garden and sheltered on every side by woods…[there were] no Plums except Farleigh Damson, no Pears and not many Apples’ (JH 16 August, ‘Yorkshire Fruit Crops’). Five years earlier, he noted ‘the present has been a most disastrous season for fruit…Our trees are young’ (JH 28 November 1872, ‘Jottings on this Year’s Gardening’).

In 1881, Palmer engaged the services of Alfred Waterhouse (1830 - 1905) to build a new house for him and this is recorded in the latter’s accounts (Northern Echo, 21 October 2009 from Waterhouse, P. and Cunningham, C. 1992):

489 1881-3 Grinkle Park, Loftus, Cleveland Mansion of stone with a slate roof, tower and conservatory. Client: CM Palmer, Cost £8,500

Waterhouse was an important Gothic Revival architect. Manchester Town Hall and the Natural History Museum are two of his notable public buildings and he was also responsible for many country houses such as the nearby Hutton Hall, Guisborough (1866) and Eaton Hall in Cheshire (1870-82).

A report following its completion noted: ‘The Old Hall was a very plain building, with no pretence to architectural adornment, and totally inadequate to modern requirements…The south part [of the new building], with a magnificent stretch of lawn, and the park in the distance, is admirably devised…The architect is Mr Alfred Waterhouse…The stabling and other “out” buildings are all on an extensive scale…Since the vast estates came into the possession of Mr Palmer, the land has been drained…excellent roads have been made, and fences erected’ (The North-Eastern Daily Gazette, 9 January 1883). The wider landscape was probably not affected by the new hall as it covered the same footprint as its predecessor, however the new stable block and icehouse were put in the former pleasure grounds and parkland to the north.

The kitchen garden was also expanded. In 1844, it covered just over half an acre (U DDCV/184/90) and had not changed by the time of the sale in 1865 (TA U/GPE/8). By 1893, it had increased to 1.7 acres including slip gardens to the east and south. Within the walled area were a series of lean-to glasshouses along the northern wall and a substantial free-standing glasshouse in the western half.

Palmer and his wife were clearly interested in gardening as they held the first annual show of the Grinkle Park Floral and Horticultural Society on 8 September 1888. They were described as ‘prime movers in establishing the society’ (Whitby Gazette, 14 September). A report of the second show held in 1890 says that the ‘lovely grounds surrounding Grinkle Hall…were kindly thrown open, and this proved the greatest attraction of the day’ (Northern Echo, 11 August).

By 1893, the complete designed landscape was in place. In addition to the areas discussed above, there was a large and small pond at the southern extent of the lawn made by damming the small stream that ran parallel to the larger beck. Along the latter were waterfalls and bridges over it (NYCRO K) and in the south east section of Grinkle Wood, was a summerhouse. George Abbey retired in 1890 and was replaced by James Finlay, who had previously worked at Castle Howard (The Gardener’s Chronicle, 5 April). In the absence of any other information, we must assume that Abbey was responsible for Grinkle’s design.

A description from 1904 gives us a view of the gardens at their height: ‘A brief visit to the conservatory…and then on to the lawn in front of the house, where a splendid view greeted the eye. On the east was the sea, to the south stretching for miles, was the Yorkshire Moors, to the west, woods and fields as far as the eye could reach…the party were taken through the grounds by Sir Charles. The stables, coachhouse, garden, hothouses, orchid house and vinery, all being visited in turn. This latter is Sir Charles’ speciality, and does honour to its owners’ (Jarrow Express, 26 August).

3.3.3 Later history

By 1913, the designed landscape covered c. 358 acres. The family retained the estate after Charles Palmer’s death in 1907 but during WW2, it clearly was becoming more difficult to maintain as this advertisement shows: ‘To let, walled garden approx. 1.5 acres with vine, peach, nectarine &c., houses, vacant 1st February next’ (The Scotsman, 30 November 1942).

In 1946, the whole estate was put up for sale and the sale catalogue (NYCRO K) described it as:

‘The Uniquely Situated Renowned Country Residence, Grinkle Park…standing over 500 feet above sea-level in a fine well-timbered Park and enjoying most beautiful views to the South and West over the delightfully wooded and undulating countryside to the open moors and sea in the distance. Built about 1862 [sic], of local stone with a slate roof, the House enjoys an exceptionally fine situation with due South aspect, but is sheltered and protected on the North and East. It is approached from Grinkle Lane by a carriage drive through the Park, past a Lodge at the entrance…terminating in a wide sweep on the North Front…Large Conservatory on the West Front containing two very fine specimen Magnolias…

The Delightful Gardens and Grounds lie mainly on the south side of the House but have not been fully maintained. Included are Lawns, Rose Garden, uncommon varieties of Rhododendrons in profusion as well as many fine specimen ornamental and Forest Trees, and in the Spring and Summer a wonderful show of Daffodils, Rhododendrons and Azaleas. There is a small lake and attractive stream with bridges and waterfalls…Extensive and beautiful views to the Moors and Sea are enjoyed from the Gardens…

The Very Useful Walled Gardens and Kitchen Gardens situated in Grinkle Park between the mansion and the stables, and having a total area of about 2 acres, 1 rood, 27 poles with warm aspect. These gardens form a Valuable Market Garden Holding with heated Greenhouse, Vinery and Peach House, Potting Sheds, Mushroom House and Boiler House’.

The new owners converted it into a hotel and has remained as such since. The kitchen garden was turned into a static caravan park but this has lately been dismantled.

Historical Use

  • Country Estate with Ornamental Features
  • Hotel


  • 18th Century
  • Late 18th Century
Associated People
Features & Designations


    Soil Type

    slightly acidic loam and clay

    Underlying Geology

    The underlying bedrock is Scalby Formation - Sandstone, Siltstone and Mudstone. The western section of the park, covering Low Moor Plantation, is overlaid with glaciofluvial deposits of sand and gravel, with the rest of the site having superficial (finer) deposits. This means the site has slightly acid loamy and clayey soils with impeded drainage. George Abbey described the ground thus: ‘soil a peaty loam with a variable subsoil, mostly sand, gravelly, or rocky’ (JH 16 August 1877, ‘Yorkshire Fruit Crops’)


    English Landscape Garden


    • House (featured building)
    • Summerhouse, Icehouse, Stable Block, Boat House
    Key Information





    Principal Building



    18th Century


    Part: standing remains



    Open to the public


    Civil Parish