I love these little gardens. They are quite hidden away and I only found them by accident when out running. Prior to that, I had no idea that they were here.
The gardens are Grade II Listed and were formerly called Whirlow Quarry Gardens, as indicated on an OS map of 1893. However the name got changed for some reason, I could not find out why.
The quarry was once leased from the Fitzwilliam Estates by the steel industrialist Samuel Doncaster. Does anyone know if this was the same Fitzwilliam family of Wentworth Woodhouse? If you do, please leave me a note in the comments.
A house was built on the quarry in the late 1890s-early 1900s, called Whinfell House. The only picture that I could find of the house is on the information board (Above). Doncaster also planned for a garden to be laid out in the two disused quarries, which were called, Big Quarry and Little Quarry.
Initially, 10,00 trees were planted in the gardens. Backhouse & Co Nursery of York laid out paths and steps and a sequence of rock pools. Sometimes around 1915 the horticulturist, plant collector and nurseryman Clarence Elliott was commissioned by Samuel Doncaster to design a garden in Little Quarry. Elliott had worked for the Backhouse Nursery in the late 1890s and early 1900s and may have assisted with the creation of the garden for Big Quarry.
Doncaster is said to have travelled all over the world collecting plants. In 1933, the House and grounds passed from Samuel Doncaster to Frederick Neill, the first High Sheriff of Hallamshire, who undertook an extensive replanting scheme during the 1960s.
In 1968 the Quarry Garden was given to the city of Sheffield by James Neill Holdings Ltd. Since then the site has been a public park, owned and managed by Sheffield City Council. The House and the adjacent paddock remained in private ownership.
In 1971, Whinfell House was destroyed by fire and subsequently demolished in 1979. In the 1980s flats and houses were built on the paddock and the site of Whinfell House. This new housing estate, called Whinfell Court, incorporates the stable block and the former drive with the remains of the tree belt to its east, formerly called Daffodil Wood (not included in the registered area).
The gardens are open daily and are free to walk around. There is ample space to social distance and lots of benches to sit and enjoy the surrounding nature.
Thanks for reading.