Cliffe garden was first created in the 1920’s, a gargantuan task. It was fashioned from a steeply sloping field, where the bed rock protrudes in places and shillet is ubiquitous. Tons of rock and soil must have been shifted, dry stone retaining walls constructed and replacement soil imported from elsewhere. All by tedious, relentless hand, helped by horses or donkeys, no JCB’s I’m afraid. Where the main lawn is now they built a Tennis Court and I often imagine the decadent house parties with cocktails and bad behaviour. One thing I know for sure, the lady of the house didn’t run down the hill when she over cooked her smash.
At some point the court was abandoned and resurrected as a rose garden. This was still many moons ago, definitely decades and well before my arrival. It is however still possible to see the outline of these beds, some days more than others. This is due to the fact that these areas would have been dug deeply and manured, the lawn is most likely on the thinnest of top soils and the greedy roses would not have liked that. These outlines are often used a visual tool in archaeology for locating ditches and boundaries. On this frosty morning they stood out more than ever. Reminders of those who went before.