The Castle is surrounded by carefully connected terraces, designed to blend with the architecture and to allow the extended Lutyens wing to merge into the land around it, so as not to overshadow the original Old Fort.
To achieve this with as much elegance as possible, Lutyens enlisted the help of his long-life friend and mentor, Gertrude Jekyll, who is widely known for her timeless garden designs and skilful choices of subtle and muted colours. While she was never able to visit the island in person, she designed Lambay's gardens from afar and entrusted their final details to Lutyens. The gardens at Lambay have been described as the “pinnacle of [their] collaborative work”.
THE CASTLE TERRACES
The West and North sides of the Castle are flanked with stunning terraces, hidden pocket courts and walled vistas. Each level provides a unique view of the Castle, as well as from inside the Castle looking out.
To the East of the Castle, the land rises to meet the first floor of the Old Fort while the Lutyens Wing sinks into the ground. The terrace is long and offers a clear view directly up the hill towards the island summit, flanked on either side by carefully selected Jekyll plantings and rose bushes, which were a favourite of Grandpa Rupert. This was also where Rupert practised his archery, and we still have his old, straw bullseye targets.
To the South side of the Castle, still within the great circular wall, is a magical woodland - at different times of year filled with little white wild garlic flowers, daffodils and then blue bells. In the summer it is a luscious sea of green under the dappling canopy of sycamore and oak trees, with enormous gunnera manicata leaves sprouting around the little hidden stone bridge that crosses the natural water feature.
THE WALLED KITCHEN GARDEN
By following the carefully placed stone path through the Castle woods, you come to an enchanting wooden gate in a stone wall which leads into the beautiful walled kitchen gardens, also designed by Lutyens and Jekyll, and tucked away to the South of the Castle. Within can be found an abundance of flowers, fruit trees and vegetable patches, all flourishing from the microclimate created by the high walls although a little rustic at the moment and lovingly kept in check by loyal family and friends. This is the perfect place to relax with a good book or a picnic.
Among the borders and around the fruit trees can be found all sorts of culinary delights including lemon balm, wild mint, rosemary, ground elder, borage flowers, fennel, nasturtiums, chives, rhubarb and figs. We love to use these in our island cooking!
The final detail in the Castle's magic circle is the Baring Mausoleum, which was commissioned by Cecil in honour of his beloved Maude, who died tragically young from cancer. This wonderfully peaceful corner is tucked inside the rampart wall and looks across the sycamore woods towards the Castle. Cecil's poem to Maude is engraved on the front stone and a poignant reminder of the deep love upon which the foundations of Lambay, as we know it, were built. Today Cecil's body rests beside her, along with his son Rupert and the ashes of his grandsons John and James Baring.