Digging in at historic site

RUINS dating from the 15th century are due to be exposed when work gets under way at the historic Manor Lodge site in Sheffield this week.

Soil which covers the kitchen quarters of the historic house and outbuildings will be removed by hand when a team of archaeologists, gardeners and volunteers start work on the site today.

Once the ancient walls have been revealed, protected and cleaned up they will be used as the base for an apothecary garden which will be planted with traditional medicinal herbs used in the 15th century.

Another garden will be created in what would previously have been an inner courtyard of the historic house.

It is to be called the Queen Mary's Garden - in recognition of the fact that Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned there for up to 14 years - and will feature lavender beds planted in the layout of a traditional medieval maze.

The work is being led by Green Estate Ltd as part of a three-year scheme to improve the historic 14-hectare site - a former deer park - by creating eight Romantic Ruins, of which the Apothecary Garden and Queen Mary's Garden will be two.

Ruins around the site will be developed into areas where visitors can relax and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells.

As well as fragrant plants, herbs and flowers, there will be seating, artwork, play areas, more trees and meadows will be developed.

Sue France, chief executive officer of Green Estate Ltd, said: "Our ambition for this project is to create one of the most beautiful new inner city landscapes in South Yorkshire.

"The title Romantic Ruins says it all really - over the next three years we want to add that all important layer of atmosphere and beauty to this historic site so it can be enjoyed by all.

"The scheme is really taking shape and people can drop by any time in the week to look around or to get involved with design or practical work."

Margaret Cobbold, executive director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, which is part-funding the project, said: "It's great to hear that this important project is progressing well.

"This scheme will protect and preserve an important part of Sheffield's heritage and create a place where people can relax and unwind."

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