Restoring the Orchid House

In September 2022, Helmsley Walled Garden officially re-opened its historic orchid house as a space for exhibitions, crafts, plants and volunteer events.

The timber-framed glasshouse, originally built around 150 years ago, underwent extensive refurbishment thanks to a £30k grant from the North York Moors National Park Authority, alongside £13k in public donations and further funding from additional local schemes.

Newly restored Orchid House at Helmsley Walled Garden. Credit Anglo American.

Woman standing inside a newly restored wooden and brick greenhouse. Credit Anglo American.

The project saw all 976 panes of glass painstakingly removed and cleaned, while the timbers were repaired, strengthened, and redecorated and the opening mechanisms for the rooftop and wall vents were restored.

Tricia Harris, Assistant Garden Manager at the Helmsley Walled Garden, said: “We are absolutely delighted by what has been achieved for our beautiful and historic orchid house.

“So many different people and organisations have come together to support this work and the result is a usable and versatile space that will benefit not only our visitors and staff, but also local community groups, artists, craftspeople and our fabulous volunteers.”

The orchid house was originally restored in 2003, prior to which Tricia describes it as: “An absolute wreck. There was no glass and trees were growing through the walls.”

Interior of newly restored orchid house. Credit Anglo American.

The work at that time saved the structure, but the time had come to transform the orchid house from a dated and dirty garden building into a shining example of Victorian design and a welcoming environment for both people and plants. Since completion, the orchid house has already been used to house an exhibition by local watercolour artist Clare Belbin and to host a celebration event for friends and supporters of the garden. Later this year the orchid house will see Christmas wreath and table decoration classes, along with further exhibitions and even herbal remedy workshops.

Briony Fox, Director of Conservation and Climate Change at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “It’s a pleasure to be able to support such a community-minded project in the beautiful town of Helmsley, and just around the corner from our own National Park headquarters.

“The Walled Garden is a well-known and loved feature of the North York Moors with a fascinating history and it’s important this is preserved for the enjoyment of all those who live in, work in or visit the area.

“The grant of £30k was awarded to Helmsley Walled Garden from the fund arising from Anglo American’s ‘section 106’ commitments to the National Park. This agreement obliges the owner of the Woodsmith Project to fund schemes designed to enhance the environment, skills and economy of the local area, in order to offset the impact of constructing and running of the mine.”

Newly restored Orchid House at Helmsley Walled Garden. Credit Anglo American.

Matthew Parsons, General Manager External Affairs at Anglo American, said: “We take being located in the North York Moors National Park seriously and are proud to play a pivotal role in funding projects that benefit both local communities and the people who live in them.

“The Orchid House at Helmsley Walled Garden is not only a much-loved tourist attraction, but a hub for the local community and visitors to the area to benefit from, so it’s great that the renovation has been completed.”

To find out more about grants available from the North York Moors National Park Authority, please visit the grant webpage. For more information about Helmsley Walled Garden, including their programme of events, visit the Helmsley Walled Garden website.

back to top