Duchess kits out garden hovel with stuffed birds and skulls

Alnwick Garden'Winter Wonderland'The Duchess of Northumberland in 'The Hovel''Please give picture byline to Margaret Whittaker.
Alnwick Garden'Winter Wonderland'The Duchess of Northumberland in 'The Hovel''Please give picture byline to Margaret Whittaker.

IT’S not often that you see the Duchess of Northumberland sitting in a hovel.

But this special, spooky place, complete with taxidermy and apothecary items, is the latest addition to the Alnwick Garden.

Alnwick Garden'Winter Wonderland''The Hovel' next to the poison garden.'Please give picture byline to Margaret Whittaker.

Alnwick Garden'Winter Wonderland''The Hovel' next to the poison garden.'Please give picture byline to Margaret Whittaker.

Visitors can also see it illuminated as part of the Garden’s Winter Evening Lights.

Located next to the entrance of The Poison Garden, The Hovel will be part of a planned extension of that section of the Garden.

The Duchess explained how the idea for The Hovel came about and the concept behind it.

“I saw the hut at The Harrogate Flower Show, of which I’m president, and it immediately struck me as being perfect for The Poison Garden if it could be modified,” she said.

“Although The Poison Garden is educational, we’ve always aimed to educate by stealth, through storytellers, rather than through factsheets.

“To engage visitors, especially children who you want to leave having learnt an important message about the dangers of drug abuse, everything they see and encounter has to be memorable.

“The Hovel will be the first thing they encounter and it needed to capture the mood of The Poison Garden.

“I wanted it to look like it belonged to a spooky collector of bones, skulls, apothecary items, etc, and I also wanted it to have a proper chimney so that smoke would hang around the hut on misty winter days.

“We will be putting capilliary matting on the roof and encouraging moss to grow over it and to hang over the edges.

“We plan to extend The Poison Garden and The Hovel will sit within the completed space and will become an integral part of the design.

“I love taxidermy and have collected the pieces within The Hovel which I have loaned to The Alnwick Garden.

“My family is very pleased to see the tarantula in its jar and the rat sitting on a skull being moved to The Hovel from the castle kitchen.”

The Alnwick Garden is open daily between 10am and 4pm.

It is also open for the Winter Evening Lights from Thursdays to Saturdays between 4pm and 7pm.