Lindisfarne Castle dominates eastern views from many parts of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, and more distant views from a wide swathe of coastal Northumberland. But while the castle itself is an essential part of the itinerary of anyone visiting the island, its garden is all too easy to overlook.
In large measure this is a matter of visibility. A walled garden was first constructed here by troops manning the castle, presumably as far back as the 1500s or 1600s. The aim was to grow vegetables to supplement their diet, and this appears to have dictated the location. The garden stands several hundred yards to the north of the castle. It is sufficiently far away to avoid the shadow cast by the castle and by Beblowe Crag on which it stands, for much of the year.
The garden is also constructed on a gently south facing slope, to gain the maximum benefit of the sunlight, and some distance away from the sea, in order to avoid, as far as possible, damage caused to the plants by wind-blown salt. Finally, the garden remains clearly in view from the castle, which must have helped ensure that a watch could be kept on who came and went.
In 1902 the Country Life magazine founder and owner Edward Hudson took out a lease from the Crown on Lindisfarne Castle and commissioned his friend, the architect Edwin Lutyens, to transform a Tudor artillery fort into a holiday home in which Hudson could entertain during his summer visits. In 1911 Hudson decided to restore the old walled garden to use as a place to enjoy. Lutyens brought in his regular collaborator, Gertrude Jekyll to undertake the design work.
The garden later fell into disuse, but in 2003 it was restored to Gertrude Jekyll's original design by the National Trust. Since then it has offered visitors to the island a remarkable oasis. The slightly remote location means that you could never consider the garden to be a feature of the castle: it appears only fairly distantly in views from the ramparts or rooms on the northern side. But the castle is very much a feature of the garden.
The wall on the south side of the garden is lower than those on the other three sides. This allows more use to be made of the sun, but it also means that the castle is perfectly framed by the walls when seen from the garden, and especially when seen from the garden bench placed on its northern side. This is the only real structural feature within the garden apart from a small shed in one corner and a plaque commemorating Gertrude Jekyll on the inside of the west wall.