Leeds-List - Leeds' ultimate magazine and guide

Stately Homes & Public Gardens in Leeds

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

Take a look around the city's finest homes and gardens.

Temple Newsam

Whether you want a glimpse into the past or a hit of nature, Leeds stately homes and gardens are sure to come through.

Leeds is blessed with some incredibly historic landmarks that will give you a glimpse into the past, and among them, are a host of stately homes, complete with gardens that are just waiting to be explored. But you don’t need a historic building to get a garden worthy of your attention, so we’ve also rounded up the city’s best stand-alone public gardens.

Stately homes

Once home to aristocrats, these buildings are stunning to look at and filled with history.

Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam

Credit: Temple Newsam

There’s so much to see and do at Temple Newsam, with 1,500 acres of parkland surrounding one of the finest stately homes in Leeds. Inside the restored Tudor-Jacobean mansion, you’ll be able to explore 500 years of history, giving you an idea of how the people who once called it home lived, as well as looking at an incredible array of fine and decorative art. Outside, there’s more to discover. Capability Brown designed the extensive gardens in the 18th century, and it’s a beautiful blend of grassland and woodland with incredible views. Bringing the kids? They’ve even got a farm with pigs, sheep and cattle.

Temple Newsam, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE.

Harewood House

Harewood House - Leeds-List credit Simon Warner and Harewood House Trust

Credit: Simon Warner and Harewood House Trust

There’s no doubt that Harewood House is a must-visit. It’s one of the Treasure Houses of England and inside, you’ll be able to gaze upon an incredible collection of contemporary art collected over 200 years, as well as an ever-changing calendar of exhibitions. You can take a tour of the house itself, learning all about its esteemed owners, but don’t forget to head outside – it’s home to one of the most impressive gardens in Leeds. Designed by Capability Brown and spanning 1,000 acres, you can enjoy landscaped vistas, as well as visiting the bird garden, farm and penguin enclosure.

Harewood House, Harewood House Estate Office, Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 9LG.

Lotherton Hall

Lotherton Hall, Leeds

Lotherton Hall is one of Leeds’ most popular stately homes in Leeds with over 750,000 visitors a year. The Edwardian house was once home to the Gascoigne family and they’ve preserved the original decor from when they remodelled the estate in 1893, so you can see how the English upper classes and their servants lived and worked in the early 20th century. They also have a huge decorative art collection and you mustn’t miss their famous Fashion Galleries, which chart changing trends through the ages. The Edwardian Gardens are an attraction in their own right, covering 8 acres, or you can explore The Wildlife World, where you’ll find an orchard, a deer park and a bird garden, as well as play areas and nature trails.

Lotherton Hall, Off Collier Lane, Aberford, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS25 3EB.

Public Gardens

Leeds is home to some wonderful gardens where you can spend the day exploring.

The Specialist Gardens at Roundhay Park

Roundhay Park

If you want to spend the day exploring the great outdoors, Roundhay Park is the place to go, but did you know it’s also home to some of the best landscaped gardens in Leeds? There are eight in total, so get ready for a day of exploring. The Monet Garden is inspired by the flowers planted by the impressionist artist at Givenchy in France and the Alhambra Garden takes its cue from the world famous 13th century Spanish landmark. There’s also the Friends of Roundhay Park Garden, designed with the Yorkshire Dales in mind or you can see the fountain and Spirit of the Earth statue in the Canal Gardens. The star attraction is the Coronation Garden, which is home to their four winning entries to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in amongst rose bushes and bedding plants.

The Specialist Gardens, Princes Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 1DF.

The Japanese Gardens

Credit: Rich Tea licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

You don’t have to travel too far to see these Japanese Gardens – they can be found within Horsforth Hall Park. After falling into disrepair not long after they were opened in 1987, the gardens were restored in 2009 – the result is a beautiful outdoor space with a distinctly oriental feel. You enter through the walled garden with a gateway written in kanji. Once inside this leafy hideaway you’ll find all kinds of traditional plants, from bamboo to vermillion torii, maple and lotus. There’s also the customary red bridge which crosses a small waterfall and pond – it’s a beautiful, secluded spot.

The Japanese Gardens, Horsforth Hall Park. Hall Lane, Horsforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 5JE.

Golden Acre Park Gardens

Golden Acre Park

Credit: Tim Green licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.

Golden Acre Park is one of the most popular parks in Leeds and it’s home to some of the city’s finest gardens too. They’ve been completely overhauled in recent years, so in amongst the array of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, you’ll find the Limestone and Sandstone Rock Gardens as well as the Bog and Late Season Borders. The Display House is a popular spot, with its Mediterranean-style design, but the park’s centrepiece is the Demonstration Garden. It’s an ever-changing garden, based on the latest trends, with themes like tropical, pottage and cottage – expect to see something new every time you visit.

Golden Acre Park Gardens, Off Arthington Road, Bramhope, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 8BQ.

York Gate Garden

York Gate Garden

Credit: Chemical Engineer licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

York Gate Garden is small, but perfectly formed. It’s a one acre hidden gem tucked behind the ancient St John the Baptist Church. It was created in the Arts & Crafts style by the Spencer family between 1951 and 1994, when they passed it on to Perennial, a charity who still run it to this day. York Gate is widely recognised as one of the finest small gardens in the country and it’s easy to see why. It’s split up into a series of petite gardens by yew and beech hedges, and as you go from the topiary of the Herb Garden to the hidden pathways and streams of The Dell, you’ll see the intimate charm and incredible thought that has gone its creation and upkeep.

York Gate Garden, Back Church Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 8DW.

Bedford Fields Community Forest Gardens

Bedford Fields

Tucked away in the suburb of Woodhouse is Bedford Fields Community Forest Gardens. It’s an open access garden created to educate people on how forest gardening can impact food production. It’s planted upwards in layers, much like you’d see in an actual forest, to make the most of the small space they’ve got. Everything you see has a use, whether it’s for food, medicine or something else. Anyone can visit or help them maintain the garden – you can even take some away with you, whether it’s flowers, shoots, fungi or wild plants, just don’t take too much because it’s a young garden that’s still growing.

Bedford Fields Community Forest Gardens, 7a Woodhouse Cliff, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2HF.

The Arium

The Arium

How about seeing a garden before it actually becomes one? The Arium is Leeds City Council’s new plant nursery, where they grow 3.5 million bedding plants and 250,000 edible plants for use in community parks across the city. Replacing Red Hall Plant Nursery, it’s not just a site of mass production, it’s actually an attraction in itself. You can wander around the massive greenhouse at the centre of the site to see all the beautiful plants they’re growing, before nipping into the shop to pick up some to take home. It’s also home to a cafe, a children’s play area and a picnic area.

The Arium, Thorner Lane, Scarcroft, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS14 3FB.

The Jungle Garden

The Jungle Garden, Leeds

Credit: The National Gardens Scheme

The Jungle Garden is definitely one of the most unusual gardens in Leeds. You’ll find it in Nick Wilson’s backyard in Roundhay, where he’s spent two decades creating an incredible tropical paradise. It’s a multi-level garden featuring a slew of plants you’d usually find in a jungle or rainforest – here, you’ll can see them from specially constructed boardwalks and bark paths. It’s his home, so to see it you have to arrange a visit through the the National Gardens Scheme, a charity that helps the public visit gardens they wouldn’t usually see for a small donation.

The Jungle Garden, 76 Gledhow Wood Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 1NX.

The Orchard

The Orchard Garden

Credit: The National Gardens Scheme

Another garden that wouldn’t usually be on view to the public, The Orchard has been opened up to all and sundry by the National Gardens Scheme – and we’re so glad that it has. It’s a wrap-around garden spread across a third of an acre that looks great all year round. Expect winding paths that lead you past fruit trees, oriental seating and a bright red teahouse, with all manner of perennials, hosts, terms and shrubs to see along the way. Again, you have to arrange your visit through the charity, or pay them a visit on one of their open days.

The Orchard, 4a Blackwood Rise, Cookridge, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 7BG.

Cover image credit: James Cairns