The Heritage of York Gate Garden

In 2016 we were awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Since then we have been delighting in a volunteer led research and interpretation project to capture the unique history of the house and garden, demonstrating its importance in garden history and are pleased to share our new digital archive website. In the final year of our project you will see the fruits of our labour emerge in and around the garden presented in various ways.

 

York Gate Pre-Garden
York Gate, just after its purchase by Sybil and Fred Spencer. Sybil’s horse, Moonshine, can be seen in the foreground.

When Frederick Spencer bought York Gate in Adel near Leeds in 1951, it was nothing but a house surrounded by farmland.

He laid down the bones of the garden, but after his death in 1963, it was his son Robin who took over the development and design.

Inspired by some of the outstanding gardens of the Arts & Crafts movement such as Hidcote, he created in just one acre, a garden which by the early eighties was regarded by many as one of the best small gardens in the world.

York Gate in the 1980s
The same view back to York Gate 50 years later, this time with the garden having been created and reaching maturity.

Like Hidcote, York Gate is divided up into a distinct number of ‘garden rooms’, using yew and beech hedges. What makes this garden exceptional is the exquisite detail Robin incorporated within each part, while using his great skill to unite them into a coherent whole through a continuous succession of vistas and focal points.

Robin died suddenly and prematurely in 1982 at the age of only forty-seven. For the next twelve years his mother, Sybil nurtured the garden. A gifted plantswoman, she continued to develop the fascinating plant collection, which remains today.

On Sybil Spencer’s death in 1994, York Gate garden was bequeathed to Perennial. A programme to develop areas in need of restoration is ongoing but the charity will continue to maintain the garden in sympathy with the Spencers’ design and in accordance with Sybil Spencer’s wish that it will continue to attract visitors for both education and pleasure.

Thanks to the generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant, you can now see and hear elements of the York Gate story in our photographic exhibition, our volunteer tours, our Heritage of York Gate book, and much more. Click here to visit The York Gate Garden Archive.

 

OPENING TIMES

The garden is now closed.

Due to Leeds being in Tier 3, York Gate’s Cafe and Gift Shop are closed until further notice.

Snowdrop Week 2021

To maintain social distancing, we need to limit the numbers in the garden, so you’ll need to book your slot before you come. Payment will be taken on entry at the garden. The garden will be operating a cashless system, so please bring your card and use contactless payments where possible.

Friends of York Gate Preview Day | 15 February | 10am – 5pm. 
General Entry | 16 – 21 February | 10am – 5pm.

Click here to book your slot or call 0113 733 3753.

We kindly ask that you make your way around the garden during your allocated slot before visiting the cafe, gift shop and plant nursery in order for us to maintain social distancing.

For full terms and conditions, click here.

2021 Seasonal Opening Times

Friends of York Gate Garden Preview Day | Wednesday 31 March.

Garden and Gift shop open 1 April–31 October Wednesday –Sunday | 11am –4.30pm.

Cafe open and gifts available all year | Wednesday –Sunday | 10am–5pm.

Click here to download your copy of Perennial News.

Download 2020 leaflet

York Gate Garden digital archive