History of the parkland
Ridge and furrow survives in several areas of the park as testimony to the medieval open field system that operated before the deer park was created in 1517. A survey carried out in 1621 by William Senior of Hull indicates that by then the park was made up of a series of enclosures with the main entrance to the house from the east, approached by a walk or avenue. The ancient moat stretched around two sides of the hall, whilst some way to the west there were three long narrow fishponds.
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was commissioned from 1772-82 to landscape the park. Brown’s scheme involved joining up the series of fishponds in order to create two lakes separated by a dam-cum-bridge of his own design. He also planted tree clumps, installed sunken fences and a ha-ha. The depression still visible on the east lawns is evidence of an original section of Brown’s ha-ha that ran from the north pond to the stable block. This portion of the ha-ha was filled-in during the early nineteenth century and replaced with iron rail fencing, leaving only a surviving section of Brown’s ha-ha running from the north pond along the west front towards the Orangery.
A comprehensive programme of parkland restoration has been in place since 1999, funded by the European Community and the Government through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. This has involved planting thousands of trees to recreate the eighteenth and nineteenth-century clumps, and replenishing the avenues to the south and west of the house. Hedges, sunk fences and the surviving ha-ha have been restored, as have various built features including ‘Capability’ Brown’s bridge. The pasture continues to be managed without the use of fertilisers in order to encourage a diversity of plant species together with animal and bird life.