The ruins of Mount Grace Priory with the reconstructed monks cell in the background

Transforming Mount Grace Priory

We're giving Mount Grace a new lease of life with an investment of over £120,000. As one of the best surviving examples of a Carthusian priory in England, we're be celebrating the story of this unique medieval monastery with renovations to the surrounding gardens.

From Good Friday you'll be able to explore the newly planted monk's cell garden, get hands on around the priory with the family, and see how Chris Beardshaw's planting scheme is progressing.

The new Orchard Café will be opening soon after in April.

An artist’s impression of the new garden design

What we're doing

  • Building a new café facility among the woodland near the orchard.
  • Renovating the Upper and Lower Terraces, and the Dell Garden, enhancing the Arts and Crafts style of these areas.
  • Re-planting the monk's garden guided by recent research into how the monk's would have used this multi-functioning space.
  • Replacing the self-seeded outer courtyard bank with meadow type grassland to encourage wildlife and create an informal play space for families.
  • Maintenance of the historic water courses, dredging silt from the moat and formal pond.
  • Creating an accessible experience for visitors with limited mobility by improving access from the car park.

The majority of the work will be taking place while we're closed on weekdays during the winter months so you'll still be able to come along at the weekends as usual during this time.

Read the news article
Chris Beardshaw. Image credit Liz Eddison.

Chris Beardshaw joins the team

We're delighted that award winning gardener Chris Beardshaw will be creative lead for this major gardens project. Chris will be using his expertise to create a spectacle for every season. He'll be introducing fresh new plants to the terraces and dell garden, and he'll be re-using many of the existing plants too.

You'll be able to amble through room-like spaces, discovering the story of the medieval priory and its transformation over the 600 years since, as you go. There'll be a new summer house at the bottom of the garden too, so you can step back and admire the view.

An image of the mansion house taken in 1900.

The Arts and Crafts Movement

Sir Lowthian Bell, a wealthy industrialist, established the landscape which surrounds the house today, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. Bell also extended the manor house and decorated it in the Arts and Crafts style during 1900-1901.

Originating in England during the mid-19th century, the movement was a retaliation against mass production and was led by artist and designer William Morris. One-off, handcrafted furnishings became increasingly popular during this time.

Morris was famously quoted as saying, 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' Many of Morris' medieval-inspired designs can still be seen in the manor house today.

We'll be bringing out more of the Arts and Crafts style in the garden with our improvements this year.

Explore the history

Fun for the whole family

Children will be able to grab an explorer pack and head out on a garden adventure with Sam the stoat, and then discover the priory with Brother Nicholas. Big and little kids alike will enjoy looking out for our cheeky illustrated stoat who is just waiting to be spotted hiding on benches and signs around the garden too.

A trip to the summer house will help you to find out more about how the landscape and garden have changed through time, from the medieval period right through to Chris Beardshaw's updates this year.

Mum and Dad might also like to pick up a seasonal leaflet and dig deeper into the year-round highlights of the new garden design.

Refuel after your adventure

Once you've worked up a hunger exploring the newly restored gardens you'll be able to stop by The Orchard Café for a bite to eat. Perfect for peckish walkers too, there'll be no need to pass through admissions to stop off at the café.

You'll be able to sit back and enjoy the view as you tuck into locally sourced food. Built from sustainable timber, the new café design features large full height windows. And there'll be outdoor seating, a picnic area and new toilet facilities too.

We'll be serving up hearty hot meals inspired by Yorkshire dishes and the history of the priory (monks ate lots of delicious fish). And there'll be lighter options too with soups, sandwiches and sweet treats to enjoy along with a cuppa or a cool drink.

Fill up guilt-free knowing that your support in buying a snack will help us to keep Mount Grace looking tip-top for generations to come.

Garden volunteers at Mount Grace Priory

Get involved volunteering

Help us bring our story to life for visitors or get green fingered in the garden. You can join the friendly team at Mount Grace by volunteering with us. It's a great chance to meet new people and learn new skills.

Are you interested in horticulture? We're currently looking for garden volunteers to help our Head Gardener, James, maintain and develop the garden as the design project progresses.

Find out more

Keep up-to-date

Head over to our Facebook page for a glimpse behind the scenes and to stay up-to-date with the renovation works.

Like us on Facebook
'step into englands story