St. Nicholas Gardens
OS grid reference:- NZ 178 010
St Nicholas was founded as a Benedictine hospital around 1171 by one of the earls of Richmond and is the oldest continuously inhabited house in Richmond. By the fifteenth century the hospital was enlarged to include a chantry chapel, but not long afterwards fell prey to Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries along with nearby Easby Abbey.
Covering around 7 acres, the gardens of St Nicholas were designed and planted by the Hon Robert 'Bobbie' James (1873-1960) at the start of the twentieth century as a series of garden rooms divided by hedges and walls of local stone, reminiscent of and contemporary with Hidcote gardens.
A Formal Garden bounded by topiary hedges, a Cottage Garden, Rock Garden, Potager and Herb Garden and the Long Borders are amongst the remaining compartments.
A multitude of Old Roses contribute to the always romantic ambience, St Nicholas is the home of Rosa gallica 'St Nicholas', a beautiful semi-double flower in a rich pink and the musk-scented vigorous rambler Rosa 'Bobbie James'. From the approach to the Field Walk there are stunning views across the pastures where the highland cattle graze towards the ruins of Easby Abbey.
Following the death of Lady Serena James in 2000, St Nicholas became the home of Yorkshire sportsman Keith Schellenberg. Ongoing projects are the introduction of additional diversity in the meadow orchard, further encouragement for bees and butterflies, restoration of the 'Nepalese Garden', attention to the old apple trees, a methodical approach to the production of compost and propagation of existing inhabitants of the garden to ensure their survival.
The gardens are open to the Public on selected Sundays through Spring, Summer and Autumn.
St. Nicholas Gardens are 3/4 mile from the Richmond town centre, entrance is through a signed gateway on the south side of Maison Dieu for cars and pedestrians.