The following is mainly drawn from A Guide to the History of Wortley Hall and its Gardens. Heeley City Farm 2010. Copies of the full guide are available from the walled garden.

The date of construction for the walled garden at Wortley is uncertain, but 500,000 house bricks were ordered in 17971. The household accounts of the early 1800s show no expenditure on “fruit or garden stuff”2. So it can be assumed that the kitchen garden supplied all that was needed by that time. 

In 1877, the journal of Horticulture3 published an account of the garden listing a wide range of produce: grapes, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, tropical plants and ferns, tomatoes, kidney beans, cucumbers, apples, pears, salads, melons, beet, carrots, salsify, parsnips and 16 varieties of broccoli. 

Different techniques were used to produce exotic foods and salad crops all year round. The high brick walls around the garden would have protected the plants from some of the winter weather and the amount of south facing wall space was maximised by the extra wall that runs through the centre of the garden. Some of the walls are also hollow, to allow steam produced by a boiler-house on the northern wall to be passed through them. This would have heated several greenhouses. The walls would have been heated between February and May to protect blossom, and in late summer to ripen late fruits. Along with this, plants were grown in hot beds surrounded by manure to keep them warm.

In 1938 a company was set up to sell surplus produce from the estate4. This suggests that the social functions at the Hall were no longer of a sufficient scale to use all the produce from the garden. During the Second World War, all the employees working in the gardens went to join the war effort and there wasn’t the labour to run the hall and gardens during the war and afterwards5. In 1950 the Wharncliffe family decided to give up the hall, eventually selling it to the Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative movement for a reputed £10,000.

In 2004, the management of the walled garden was taken on by Heeley City Farm. What was by then an under used grass area was once again restored and transformed into a highly productive kitchen garden. Organic certification was gained from the Soil Association and under the vision and inspiration of Darrell Maryon many crops were grown and sold, courses run and people introduced to organic gardening techniques through visiting and volunteering at the garden.

After nearly 20 years in early 2023, Heeley City Farm was restructuring and its management of the walled garden ended. The volunteers, some of many years standing, loved working in the garden so much that they decided to develop their own vision for the future of the garden and form a community group to carry on running it. That is the situation today.


  1. Letters, Tenders and Plans for a New Greenhouse at Wortley, by Robert Turner, Hammersmith Ironworks, Dublin (1853-1854). Sheffield archives Wh M 147/25.
  2. Wortley Hall House Expenses November 1802 to January 1804. Sheffield Archives Wh M/137.
  3. Q.R. Wortley Hall. Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, February 22nd, 1877, pp140-143.
  4. Prospectus of the Sheffield Botanical and Horticultural Society, 29th August 1833.
  5. Dave Caborne, in Wortley Oral History Project (2010)