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Friday, 9 September 2016

Sutton Hall open day branches out with some oak tree detective work

Historic manor house, Sutton Hall Resort, near Thirsk, throws open the gates to its gardens on Saturday (10 September) for its second open day.

And this time, managers and staff at the self-catering resort want to try to identify the person who donated the Nelson’s Oak tree in the grounds.

Will someone twig? An appeal for information about this oak tree
has been made at Sutton Hall Resort.

The oak was recently planted in the grounds by an owner of one of the self-catering apartments, who turned up with a sapling one day and explained to the resort’s gardener Susan Langdale that what he had planted derived from one of Nelson’s Oaks planted in the Forest of Dean more than 200 years ago.

He went on to recite the history of tree planting that Admiral Nelson had instigated after writing a ten-page memorandum in 1802 about the shortage of oak to build the ships of the future. The man left before Susan could ask him any further questions.

Susan said: “It all happened so quickly. The gentleman had already planted the tree when he began to tell me the Nelson Oak history but he left very quickly before explaining why he had wanted to plant the oak here. I would really like to find out more so hopefully someone will come forward and solve the ‘mystery’ and to thank him for his contribution to our lovely gardens.”

In the meantime, a hidden Japanese garden has been identified in the hall's grounds and the open day provides an insight into the historic heather and rock gardens, its valley gardens and a woodland walk.

The hall is an 18th century manor house, originally built in 1700 when Francis Smyth owned it.  It was passed to his daughter Mary Smyth when she married Thomas Thrust who was a commander in Nelson’s Navy. James Harry Edwards who became the owner in 1901 created the re-discovered garden, designed in a Japanese style.

Sutton Hall Resort manager Linda Barnard said: “There may be a connection between the past owners of the house and the oak tree planting and it would be very interesting to learn more from the ‘mystery’ owner who planted it.”

The gardens open from 10am to 3pm with proceeds from event going to to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity.

The gardens are normally only available to resident guests and include a croquet lawn, a walled garden, tennis courts and a woodland walk with much natural habitat and wildlife.

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