Gardens History Book

The most fortunate situation …” The Story of York’s Museum Gardens

The Yorkshire Philosophical Society is proud to announce the publication of a new book about York’s Museum Gardens, which it founded in 1828. The results of many years of research by co-authors Dr Peter Hogarth and Professor Ewan Anderson, this copiously illustrated book provides the definitive history from early times to the present day of this well-loved site at the heart of the City of York.

Copies of the book are available NOW from The Yorkshire Museum shop

As Alison Pringle, former York Museum Gardens Manager, writes in the Foreword

“ ’The most fortunate situation’ sheds light on the extraordinarily rich history of this fascinating 12 acres of land from the creation of the Roman fortress, the prosperous time of the medieval Abbey of St Mary and subsequent dissolution under Henry VIII, the building of the Yorkshire Museum and landscaping of the surrounding site to create Museum Gardens, through to the present day and pondering the future. …. If you have ever wondered what the site looked like before the Yorkshire Museum was built, and what drove the creation of the Museum Gardens, and what the future may bring, then this is the book for you”.

The book is dedicated to Dr Peter Addyman, YPS Vice-President, who has spent much of his life excavating and discovering the archaeology of the site and who has encouraged the research and development of this work over many years. The book will interest historians, garden-lovers, the many people who treasure family memories of visits to the Gardens and all those who enjoy this green oasis in the heart of York.

“We have enjoyed our voyage of discovery; we hope you, the reader, will equally enjoy your own journey through the history of York’s treasure, the Museum Gardens.”

Peter Hogarth and Ewan Anderson

Published on 6th November 2018.

Order form Full order form November 2018

Publication price is £25 if collected from the YPS Lodge Museum Gardens or add £5 UK postage.

YPS Publication on the History of Museum Gardens

This book is a YPS Bicentenary Project and celebrates the first two centuries of the Society, since its founding in 1822. For an overview of the story which we are piecing together, click here: 200 Years of Museum Gardens

The Gardens

ThYork-Museum-Gardens-Rockerye Museum Gardens are of major botanical, geological, archaeological and horticultural importance, as well as being very well used by York residents and visitors who find there a green haven in the centre of the city.  The Yorkshire Philosophical Society originally created the Gardens in 1830 to designs by Sir John Naesmyth (Naesmyth’s other well-known gardens are at Dawyck in the Scottish Borders – now a satellite of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, and Riverhill House near Sevenoaks, Kent). The YPS managed the Gardens until 1960 when they were ceded to the local authority.  In 2002 the York Museums Trust was formed and took over the ownership and management of the Gardens. The current Head Gardener is Steve Williams, previously at Newby Hall, who brings with him a great deal of expertise and innovative ideas. There are more details about the Gardens, their planting and their champion trees at

Museum Gardens Geological Map Mosaic

With the Society’s bicentenary approaching we now have a fitting legacy of YPS in the Gardens – a representation of a geological map celebrating the pioneering work of William Smith, the ‘Father of English Geology’ (to read about this click on the highlighted text).

The Gardens Group

YPS retains a keen interest in the development of the Gardens and a small group of members meet from time to time in the Lodge – often with the Head Gardener present – to hear about the latest developments and discuss ways in which the Society can contribute to the ongoing development of the Gardens, especially as they enter an exciting phase of major expansion.
Any member interested in contributing to the Gardens Group please contact