Ian Weightman

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Bringing Trentham Estate Back to Life

Work to restore one of the most historic gardens in Britain first got under way about seven years ago.

Costing around seventeen million pounds, the project at that time was led by renowned garden designers and Chelsea gold-medal winners Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf who, along with Trentham Gardens Manager Michael Walker, revitalised the derelict 30-acre Victorian garden by imposing on its Italianate outlines what is now one of the world's largest planting of herbaceous perennials.

Stuart-Smith and Oudolf, however, were simply the latest in a long line of garden historians and designers to be associated with the parklands which were once home to the Dukes of Sutherland.

And the rejuvenation of Trentham's famous Italian Gardens was based largely upon the original designs created for them in 1833 by Capability Brown, and Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament.

Located in the greenest corner of Stoke-on-Trent, in England, Trentham boasts a long and colourful history.  The original Tudor house was rebuilt by Barry in the 19th century, at which time the waste of meadow lands were transformed into Italian gardens "with no rival outside of Italy".

Once the pleasure ground of royals and nobles (Benjamin Disraeli called it 'Brentham' in his novel Lothair, and the Shah of Persia was one of the countless guests to stay in the Hall), it became a playground of the people in the early 20th century, during which time the name 'Trentham Gardens' became so famous.

The latest chapter in the estate's history is now being written by St Modwen's, who took over the dilapidated and overgrown site at the end of the 20th century, and who are helping to oversee a spend in excess of one hundred million to transform it into one of Europe's leading 21st century visitor destinations.

The new-look gardens have already matured into some of the finest in Britain, to be called by Alan Titchmarsh, no less, as one of the nation's "must-see gardens".

But the development at Trentham is ongoing.  More and more show gardens are now being introduced onto the estate.  And a new hotel, to the original design of Sir Charles Barry's Hall, and with all the five star luxury to match is also on the cards for the not-too-distant future.

For full details, visit http://www.trentham.co.uk/

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