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The North Canonry


The North Canonry is an 18th-century formal garden, restored in the late-19th century and admired by Gertrude Jekyll.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

An 18th-century formal town garden situated at the rear of a house restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the early 1860s.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

The North Canonry, a site of c 0.6ha, is situated to the south-west of Salisbury Cathedral, in The Close. The rectangular garden is enclosed by C18 walls and extends for c 180m from the rear of the house to the River Nadder, which forms its western boundary. Immediately to the south of the site is the Training College (late C20), situated in the grounds of the Deanery and King's House. To the north lie further private town houses with gardens to the rear.

Entrances and Approaches

The garden is entered via the house, where doors on its west facade lead into the garden. The garden can also be approached by boat from the River Nadder.

Principal Building

The house (listed grade II*) occupies the far eastern end of the site. Unlike the other houses in the Cathedral Close, it is not set back from the road, allowing for a larger garden. The house, of C13 origin, was largely rebuilt in the C16 and C17, was added to in the C18, and was restored and extended by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 1860s, whilst he was working on the restoration of Salisbury Cathedral.

Attached to the north side of the house is a small C17 coach house.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

Immediately to the west of the house lies a rectangular lawn with a path around its perimeter, lined by mature specimen trees. Close to the house at the north-east corner of this lawn is a small formal garden with knot patterns, surrounded by a topiary hedge.

At the west end of the lawn, c 50m from the house, is an C18 garden wall with central wrought-iron gates (listed grade II), which give access to a c 125m long broad central walk which leads through double herbaceous borders to the far western end of the garden. Approximately halfway along its length, the broad walk is crossed by a small path lined by a hedge which runs north to south, thus dividing the garden roughly into four quarters. These four sections are mainly laid to lawn with fine mature trees including limes, gingko, and mulberry, with those sections to the east containing a paved rectangular pool and a small pergola.

At the north-west end of the central walk, a central opening in another C18 wall, marked by mature topiary yews, gives access to a small lawn on the riverbank. In this area, at the far north-west corner of the site, stands an early to mid C18 summerhouse or boathouse (listed grade II), with oval-shaped windows overlooking the river. This structure remains largely as shown on the 1854 plan and 1881 OS map.

From the western part of the garden are fine views of the River Nadder to the west and of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral to the north-east, as described by Jekyll in Wood and Garden.


Country Life, 3 (9 April 1898), p 434

G Jekyll, Wood and Garden (1899, reprinted 1981), pp 240-1

Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire VI, (1962), p 76

N Pevsner and B Cherry, The Buildings of England: Wiltshire (2nd edn 1975), pp 430-1

J Brown, Gardens of a Golden Afternoon (1982), p 188


W Naish, The City of Salisbury, the adjacent Close, Church & River accurately surveyed, 1751 (Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office)

Andrew and Drury, Map of Wiltshire, 1773

Hand-drawn plan of the City of Salisbury (12" x 10"), nd (?C18) (Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office)

Kingdon & Shearm Engineering Surveyors, Salisbury Local Board of Health: Plan of the District, 24" to 1 mile, 1854 (Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office)

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1879, published 1881; 2nd edition revised 1900, published 1901; 1937 edition

Archival items

Aerial photograph, 1 August 1994 (NMR 15156/31), (NMR, Swindon)

Description written: July 2001 Amended: August 2001

Register Inspector: FDM

Edited: April 2005


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


The garden at The North Canonry is first shown on Naish's plan of Salisbury of 1751, and subsequently on Andrews and Drury's Map of Wiltshire of 1773. In 1854, the Salisbury Local Board of Health published a large-scale plan of Salisbury which shows the garden in great detail. In the early 1860s the house was restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78), who at the time was working on the restoration of Salisbury Cathedral. During the restoration of The North Canonry the garden may have been altered but its formal layout and axial plan as indicated on the 1854 plan of Salisbury remained unchanged (OS 1879).

During the late 19th century, the garden, then managed by Canon Buchanan, was admired by the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, who described it in her book Wood and Garden (1899). During the late 20th century the formal layout of the garden has remained unchanged (aerial photograph, 1994), and the planting has been maintained in character with Gertrude Jekyll's ideas.

The garden remains (2001) in private ownership.


18th Century (1701 to 1800)

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD2248
  • Grade: II




  • River
  • Description: River Nadder.
  • Boundary Wall
  • Description: The rectangular garden is enclosed by 18th-century walls.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Formal garden
Key Information






18th Century (1701 to 1800)