Plas Newydd – kitchen garden

Home page for Plas Newydd and its inhabitants

 This page includes:

  • Introduction
  • All recorded sale of produce sold between 1788 and 1800
  • Miscellaneous features
  • Greenhouse
  • Garden Tools
  • Garden produce (references to various crops)
    • Mushrooms
    • Fruit
  • Dunghill / manure / straw
  • Descriptions of the garden

 

INTRODUCTION
Butler’s Journal suggests that although they employed staff to tend the grounds, vegetable garden and fields and to milk the cows, they occasionally took an active part in planting flowers and feeding the chickens.
For example, on the 28th April 1788 she wrote in her Journal: My Beloved and I went to the garden, sowed the tender annual in their hot beds.
Butler occasionally recorded their good harvests, but rarely any bad ones. Although they might have had enough land to be self-sufficient in some vegetables, dairy produce and eggs, hay for the cattle and barley for ale, the accounts show that they purchased meat and they paid significant sums to casual workers for planting and harvesting, possibly more than the crops were worth. She also recorded the delivery and use of manure, most of which presumably came from their own cows, but some was purchased (see below for the Dunghill).
By 1802, they were taking a very serious interest in developing the farm and discussed options with Mrs Tighe who was doing the same. [LoL, p. 132]
In 1803 Ponsonby wrote to Sarah Tighe ‘Our gardens are overflowing with green peas and Strawberries and our dairy with butter and cream’.

After 1800 the records almost dry up. There is very little about garden produce and Butler’s journals for 1819 and 1821 contain very little on the subject. It is not known whether this lack of information is because garden work became so much part of their lives that it was not remarkable enough to record, or that it became less significant as their income became more reliable. However, the 1832 auction catalogue noted that the ‘four gardens [were] in the best order, and well stocked with all kinds of Fruit Trees, Vegetables, and Flowers’.

It is surprising how little the requirements for the garden, such as tools, seeds and plants feature in the financial records which appear to be a complete record of all income and expenditure for the 13 years between 1788 and 1800. This suggests that they were very self-sufficient and saved seeds from one year to the next, and swopping seeds and plants with neighbours.  Most of the few comments in the 1819 and 1821 journals are about sharing seeds and plants, especially unusual varieties.

A variety of vegetables were mentioned in the records, but it is not known whether these were main crops or were mentioned by chance, nor is it known how successful these were over the years.

All recorded sale of produce sold between 1788 and 1800:

1.9.1795             Francis paid for the Hay etc.                                               £9.14.0
10.2.1797           For Evan Williams for Potatoes we sold him                       1.10.0
?.4.1798             By Potatoes that we sold 23 strike and half at 2s per              2.7.0
?.9.1798             Received for our crop of Barley                                             7.7.0
?.4.1800             sold 5 1/2 strike potatoes at 4s                                             1.2.0
TOTAL   £22.0.0

Ponsonby wrote to Sarah Tighe on the 30th July 1801
If potatoes kept their last years prices (4 or 5s the measure) we should make near £20 by what we should have to sell them, but … we shall not make near a forth of that sum, for we yesterday heard that 20 measures of good ones had been offered for 10s.

The plants mentioned in the journals, accounts and letters are:
Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, cabbages, cauliflowers, cucumbers, endive, peas, potatoes, spinach, turnips, onions, Doucettes [lamb’s lettuce]
Mushrooms
Fruit: Gooseberries, melons, raspberries, strawberries, vines
Fruit trees: apples, apricots, cherries, figs, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums
For all known references to these plants, see below.

In addition to the ‘Cow and Calf-house, Garden-house, Yard, Store-house, &c. An excellent Engine Pump and a greenhouse of great beauty, ornamented with painted and stained glass; an extensive collection of plants’ all of which were listed in the 1832 auction catalogue, there was at least one shed, a cold frame and presumably a chicken house.

MISCELLANEOUS

WALLS
18.10.1784 (Journal)
Finished the copings round the garden walls

21.9.1785 (Journal)
Powell at work in the new Kitchen garden

14.1.1788, (Journal) 
Owen planting the hedge in the new garden

18.3.1788 (Journal)
Richard took all morning to roll 4 small barrows of gravel into the new kitchen garden

7.5.1788 (Journal)
As we were going to our new Potager [an ornamental kitchen garden]

GREENHOUSE

1818, Steele
In another part of these grounds is a beautiful greenhouse the front of which consists of beautiful stained glass.

1832 Auction catalogue
a greenhouse of great beauty, ornamented with painted and stained glass

GARDEN TOOLS

The accounts record very little expenditure on garden tools, but the 1832 auction catalogue recorded that: the equipments of the garden are of a very superior description; a variety of seats, curious Etruscan flower vases, garden implements, &c.

10.5.1788           For a scythe and shovel                       0.8.0
19.7.1800           Paid Mr Bill [sic] for Pruning hooks etc. etc and scythe stones  0.3.6
30.7.1800           P????????? Pots 0.8.6
16.12.1800         nine potting pots from Wrexham                         0.4.1

GARDEN SEATS

10.2.1802 (Journal)
Visited our work. John Francis in the shed making the seats

16.2.1802 (JournaL)
Brought Mr Roberts to the new seat

GARDEN PRODUCE

25.7.1788 (Journal)
Dinner, boiled corned beef with all sorts of vegetables in profusion.

31.7.1788 (Journal)
Gathered vegetables, pulled apples

ARTICHOKES
There are three types – Jerusalem, Globe and Chines – but the latter were not introduced to this country until 1887.

10.10.1788 (Journal)
Artichokes coming up for the winter

24.2.1789 (Journal)
Artichokes planted

19.3.1790 (Journal)
Discovered an artichoke two months earlier than I ever remember

ASPARAGUS
24.4.1788 (Journal)
Dinner, Roast Mutton, boiled pork, peas pudding and the first asparagus we cut this year.

20.5.1800 (Letter to Mrs Piozzi)
Your Chicken and Asparagus will be prepared here.

22.4.1819 (Journal)
Asparagus cut.

CABBAGE and similar
4.10.1785 (Journal)
Mr Lloydde’s Huntsman came from a hare from his master, probably the same poor animal who made so free with, and was so welcome to, our cabbage last winter.

13.12.1800 (Accounts)
John Jones from Chirk brought cabbage plants 6d

18.8.1809
{Letter asking for about fourscore strawberry plants, 24 cos lettuce and  100 broccoli and Savoy plants from Mrs Parker, Sweeney Hall} for which we have had the ground ready for some time, and were disappointed of proper plants from Brynkinnallt where we are accustomed to be supplied by the gardener having his head and hands so full of bricks and mortar – that he has had no leisure for ?sowing and transplanting these articles in time to answer Our purpose.

CAULIFLOWERS
30.7.1788 (Journal)
Dinner – boiled mutton – Cauliflowers, mushrooms, potatoes.

CUCUMBERS
28.4.1788 (Journal)
The Irishwoman returned from Chirk gardens with three pots of cucumber plants. Planted them. Sowed three sorts of cucumber seeds.

25.5.1799 (Journal)
One load of hot manure from the Hand [inn] stables for cucumber beds. William Jones wheeling it into the fruit garden.

27.5.1799 (Accounts)
John Jones in the evening with Cucumber plants, 2s 6d.

ENDIVE
20.10.1785 (Journal)
Went to the garden, got some Endive. Made Mary stew it with Cream for our dinner. We thought it Very good.

PEAS
21.11.1785 (Journal)
Powel at work in the kitchen garden taking up pea sticks

11.6.1799 (Journal)
William Jones cutting pea sticks

7.10.1800           Mr Edwards of ?Penpron [Penybryn?] for White Peas                    0.4.0
11.10.1800         for more white peas                                                    0.3.6

20.6.1803 (Letter from Ponsonby to Mrs Tighe)
Our Gardens are overflowing with Green Peas

POTATOES
13.11.1788         15 strikes of potatoes at 2s                                      £1.10.0
29.10.1789         10 strikes of potatoes at 2s 9d per strike              £1.6.6
31.5.1790           David the miller for 2 strike of potatoes                £0.6.0
Account book

11.11.1785 (Journal)
We bought 10 measures of potatoes from Francis for winter

4.3.1788, (Journal)
Potatoes planted in the west border

7.5.1789 (Journal)
Planted new potatoes

1798, (Accounts)
Between 26th February and 7th April, 1798, a total of 143 man days were spent on the great work – preparing a field for potatoes. Between 3 and 20 men were employed most days, but it seems that the only pay they received was 6d a day for drink, the total cost being £3.11.6.
Simon Roberts and his team of men and horses were employed for two days at the same time to move stones and plough and harrow a field, but possibly not the potato field.
7.4.1798             drink money to our six workmen the new potato garden at length finished  £0.2.6
23.4.1799           William Jones and Simon for ale, the potato field being finished £0.0.6

18.1.1802 (Journal)
Mr Lidwell promised to procure one of every sort of Irish potato which are being collected by Lord Mathew.

24.3.1802, (Letter from Ponsonby)
A hogshead (a volume equal to about 66 imperial gallons) of seed potatoes, including some apple potatoes ‘absolutely unknown in this country’ arrived from Mrs Tighe. Most were planted in the Ladies fields but some were given to neighbours.

11.5.1791 (Accounts)
Evans Boy planting potatoes 3s

21.10.1791 (Accounts)
Workmen 4 days raising potatoes 4s 8s

30.7.1801 (letter from Ponsonby)
If potatoes kept their last years prices (4 or 5s the measure) we should make near £20 by what we should have to sell them, but … we shall not make near a forth of that sum, for we yesterday heard that 20 measures of good ones had been offered for 10s.

1802 (Letter from Ponsonby to Sarah Tighe 17.5.1802)
Mrs Tighe sent them some apple potatoes

3.3.1809
Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby propose to open their potatoe [sic] stores for planting next week therefor hope Mr Jones will be timely in naming – which of the sorts they had last year the pleasure of sending him as specimens – he would particularly wish to be supplied with for that purpose – also whether he has, or would like to have the everlasting Potatoe? – of which they can now afford him enough to make a plantation – for next winter – and will with much satisfaction acquaint him with the instructions given them for their cultivation
Letter from Sarah Ponsonby to Thomas Jones, Llantisilio Hall

24.3.1816
Sending a small hamper of potatoes
A German Kidney
B Winter Manley
C Wicklow Bangors
D Everlasting
F A fine sort sent them by the Warden of Ruthin
G A fine sort given them by Miss Ormsby
The Repository containing the Apple potatoe which shall be marked E they have not yet opened (and need not be planted until the middle of April)
Letter from Sarah Ponsonby to Thomas Jones, Llantisilio Hall

SPINACH
4.10.1796 (letter from Eleanor to Thomas Pennant, Year, p. 196)
Returned a book and enclosed French Mountain Spinach seed for Mrs Pennant.

TURNIP
25.10.1785, Year, p. 184
Yellow turnips from Edward Evans

12.5.1821
Anglesea Turnip seed sent by friend.

ONIONS
23.9.1785 (Journal)
Powell hoeing onions, planting endive in drills and earthing celery

27.9.1785 (Journal)
Powell scuffing and digging in the Kitchen garden, planted a large bed of Doucettes [A plant used in salads: lamb’s lettuce or mâche, Valerianella locusta] for winter and spring salads.

21.11.1785 (Journal)
Powel at work in the kitchen garden taking up pea sticks

29.11.1785 (Journal)
Powell at work in the new garden digging among the strawberries and raspberries and planting out 140 little rose trees which we have raised from berries of our garden saved in the year 1783.

17.3.1819 (Journal)
a parcel of Beetroot from Whalley [of Liverpool]  – which was sent with the Trees and Seeds, but declined by the  Chester postman ???? Dick Morris prior ?????

MUSHROOMS

4.3.1788 (Journal)
Three loads of muck from the Hand stables for the mushroom bed.

10.5.1788 (Accounts)
For mushroom spawn to Wrexham                        0.8.0

5.7.1788 (Journal)
Examined our mushroom bed

4.2.1791 (Journal)
Removed the mushroom bed from the melon ground to the Farm yard

20.2.1790 (Journal)
Sent the Irish woman to Halston with mushroom spawn

23.5.1794 (Accounts)
Edward Evans’s son making mushroom bed         0.0.9d

FRUIT

GOOSEBERRIES
22.7.1785 (Ponsonby’s day book)
Characters of our [12] gooseberries in our new garden

9.7.1787 (letter from Ponsonby to Mrs Tighe)
A profusion of wonderful fine Gooseberries and we want to make some giam – or jam for you

17.6.1788 (Journal)
Went to the new garden, gathered gooseberries

13.6.1789 (Journal)
Gooseberries
1.11.1800           5s to him [Simon] for getting ?Gooseberry Trees                            0.5.0

MELON GROUND
It is possible that this name stuck, even when it was used for other things.

15.10.1785 (Journal)
Gave Mr Whalley a melon

14.12.1785 (Journal)
Powell nailing the fruit trees in the Melon ground

17.6.1788 (Journal)
Sent William to the spout for water for the tub in the Melon ground.

5.7.1788 (Journal)
Examined our melons

7.5.1789 (Journal)
Melon ground cleaning

12.5.1790 (Accounts)
Paint for wheelbarrow and Melon Ground Spout [cost not explicit]

4.2.1791 (Journal)
Removed the mushroom bed from the melon ground to the Farm yard

RASPBERRIES
29.11.1785 (Journal)
Powell at work in the new garden digging among the strawberries and raspberries.

14.12.1785 (Journal)
A parcel by stage coach containing 60 Raspberry trees and 12 plants of Black Strawberry

9.7.1787 (letter from Sarah to Mrs Tighe)
A profusion of wonderful fine Raspberries and we want to make some giam – or jam for you

STRAWBERRIES
29.11.1785 (Journal)
Powell at work in the new garden digging among the strawberries and raspberries.

14.12.1785 (Journal)
A parcel by stage coach containing 60 Raspberry trees and 12 plants of Black Strawberry

6.2.1788 (Journal)
Superintended the strawberry plantation in the new potager

3.7.1800 (Accounts)
Compensation of unjustly suspecting Mrs Davies sons of taking our strawberries.

20.6.1803 (Letter from Sarah)
Our Gardens are overflowing with … strawberries

VINES
5.7.1788 (Journal)
Examined our vines

FRUIT TREES
29.3.1785 (Sarah Ponsonby’s Commonplace Book NLW MS 22969A, p. 1)
Planted in the kitchen garden, Peach, Nectarine, Peach, Plum,

14.12.1785 (Journal)
Powell nailing the fruit trees in the Melon ground

13.6.1789 (Journal)
Mr Sneyde, ‘the first botanist in England’ examined the following fruit trees which he found very much improved and advised on treatment: Dunmore Apricot, Peaches, Nectarines

10.7.1794 (Accounts)
Samuel Evans nailing and pruning the fruit trees 14s

1.5.1821 (Journal)
Mr Roberts who came to prune our fruit trees arrived about eleven

11.11.1800 (Accounts)
Man from Hardwick with Trees                                                            0.5.6

APRICOTS
2.9.1789 (Journal)
Eat plumbs and apricots

23.8.1796 (Accounts)
Man from Crewe with Apricots 1s

APPLES
31.7.1788 (Journal)
Gathered vegetables, pulled apples

27.10.1788 (Accounts)
Made a plantation by the shed of {various trees and} Apple Trees

2.11.1795 (Accounts)
Half hundred and more baking apples 3s

26.3.1819 Journal
cuttings of apples & Pears for grafting

CHERRIES
5.7.1788 (Journal)
Got two plates of cherries, one white and the other Orleans cherry, for breakfast.

27.7.1788 (Journal)
John Edwards’ wife came to us with cherries

1791, Genlis (1808)
On the side of the [drive] some ancient pines of prodigious height were preserved; fruit trees were planted, and a great quantity of cherry trees in particular, which produce the best and finest cherries in England.

FIG
23.10.1788 (Journal)
The fig tree nailed

PEACHES
23.10.1788 (Journal)
Carpenter at work – Mountain Peach nailed

24.10.1788 (Journal)
Double mountain Peach nailed

PLUMS
2.9.1789 (Journal)
Eat plums and apricots

 

Dunghill / Manure / straw

11.10.1784 (Journal)
Load of dung for the mushroom bed

4.3.1788 (Journal)
Three loads of muck from the Hand stables for the mushroom bed.

15.11.1789 (Journal)
Roses and Lilies secured from frost by Muck

31.1.1791 (Accounts)    
Two drag loads of straw                                           £0.1.4

15.1.1793 (Accounts)
Robert the mason for wall around Dunghill 8s

25.1.1793 (Accounts)
Edward Evans, carriage of stone to the Dunghill Wall, 5s

8.1.1795 (Accounts)
4 Trusses of straw at enormous price                    £0.12.0

17.9.1796 (Accounts)
Paid Mr Edwards of Pengwern for two loads of Muck, 15s

7.9.1797 (Accounts)
Simon and John Roberts boy for corn for the new cow Glory 2s

16.9.1797 (Accounts)
John Roberts Butcher for the new cow Glory £12.9.6

6.1.1799 (Accounts)
Knight the butcher for 9 load of Muck £1.7.0

4.1.1800             John Edward’s son Edward driving muck to the Pen-y-maes              0.2.0
23.1.1800           David the Tailor for a load of muck                          0.2.6
31.1.1800           Ellis Tailor for a load of muck                           0.2.6
20.2.1800           ?Bright the butchers daughter for 7 loads of muck                         1.1.0
5.5.1800             To John Edwards for his son Neddy ?delivering 2 loads of muck     0.4.0
6.5.1800             John Roberts butcher for two loads muck                   0.6.0
19.5.1800           John Hughes of Royal Oak 13 load of manure                                  1.11.0
16.6.1800           Mr Parry for a capital load of muck                  0.3.0
10.12.1800         Mr Edwards of Penabrin’s [Penybryn?] man delivering 16 loads of muck from RoyalOak               0.1.0
11.12.1800         workmen for very great diligence in turning the great heap of manure 0.1.2
31.12.1800         John Edwards boy carrying muck                         0.1.0

VISITORS’ DESCRIPTIONS AND ENTRIES FROM ELEANOR’S JOURNAL

1785, Twinning (1887)  
Their house and gardens are much improved since I was last at Llangollen [in 1779?].

27.9.1785 (Journal)
Powell scuffing and digging in the Kitchen garden, planted a large bed of Doucettes [A plant used in salads: lamb’s lettuce or mâche, Valerianella locusta] for winter and spring salads.

26.2.1788, Journal
Showed Mrs Jones, the late curate’s widow, the dairy, garden and bleach yard

29.3.1788 (Journal)
Walked round our empty garden many times, like it infinitely better empty than occupied by that drunken idle Richard.

1791, Genlis (1808)
The two friends likewise possess a farm for their cattle, with a pretty farm-house and a kitchen-garden at the foot of the mountain.

1795, Seward   
The kitchen-garden is neatness itself! Neither there, nor in the whole precincts, can a single weed be
discovered. The fruit trees, are of the rarest and finest sort, and luxuriant in their produce; the
garden-house, and its implements, arranged in the exactest order.
Nor is the dairy-house, for one cow, the least curiously elegant object of this magic domain. A short steep declivity, shadowed over with tall shrubs, conducts us to the cool and clean repository. The white and shining utensils that contain the milk, and cream, and butter, are pure ‘as snows thrice bolted in the northern blast.’ In the midst, a little machine, answering the purpose of a churn, enables the ladies to manufacture half a pound of butter for their own breakfast, with an apparatus which finishes the whole process without manual operation.

1797, Plumptre
Kitchen Garden: at end a garden house, and place for frames.
The farm and shrubbery. Bees. Hayrick. Field, barley. New planted trees, new garden. Cistern of water. Dairy.

1832 Auction catalogue
Four gardens in the best order, and well stocked with all kinds of Fruit Trees, Vegetables, and Flowers. …  the Fruit trees are of the rarest and finest sort, and luxuriant in their produce.

1863, ‘Damon’
the little garden was in a disordered state.