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Cook garden officially reopened

Published on Friday, 17th May 2019

Cook garden 4

Great Ayton’s Captain Cook Memorial Garden officially reopened today (Thursday 16 May ) after a massive revamp and some unexpected finds!

The rejuvenated garden has come back to life in a £16,800 project which also celebrates the 250th anniversary of the explorer landing in New Zealand.

And visitors are now to get an unexpected view of part of Cook’s parents former home – some of the original walls of the cottage were discovered during the restoration work.

Contractors working on creating an outline of the cottage - located in the garden until it was moved stone by stone to Melbourne in Australia in 1934 – unearthed some of the building’s original foundations.   They were exposed following an archaeological dig and will remain on show throughout the summer months.

“Over the years the site had fallen into decline – the garden was very overgrown and the obelisk had deteriorated and it was often missed by visitors to the village,” said Parish Council Chairman, Councillor Ron Kirk. 

“So we decided to give it a facelift – but we never expected to be reopening with such an exciting find to show off too.”

The garden was officially reopened by the Right Honorable Lord Crathorne in the presence of Commander Neil Cheverton, representing the Australian High Commissioner.

"This is a very exciting day for Great Ayton, particularly following the rediscovery of part of the foundations of the Cooks' cottage, left behind when the cottage itself was dismantled then re-erected in Australia,” said Lord Crathorne.


“I have visited the cottage in Melbourne, and it has become one of the most visited attractions in Australia.  I hope many people from Australia and elsewhere will come to visit the site of the cottage, the refurbished garden and other places in the locality with Captain Cook connections.”


And Mr Cheverton, who is a Hydrographic Surveyor in the Royal Australian Navy added: “It was a real honour for me to be able to attend as both an Australian and as a serving Naval Officer.

“The bonds between Australia and the United Kingdom have always been strong and they are deepened by our shared heritage. Captain Cook is an admired figure in Australia and New Zealand and his discoveries eventually led to the opening up of the New Holland and what his fellow explorer, Mathew Flinders would eventually call, Australia.

“As a young boy I read the stories of his voyages and it inspired me for my own path as an explorer and service to my own country. I have followed his tracks along the East Coast of Australia on many occasions as a modern mariner and have reflected at the things he must have seen and marvelled at the skill in which he charted the area. To see his own inspirations in a place where his imagination was shaped is a privilege for me and I am sure, for the many visitors that will come to see for themselves.”

Interpretation boards, a new website and leaflets have also been created as part of the project.  The excavation work of the foundations was also filmed for the archives – and for display at the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum in the village. 

The garden will play host to local schoolchildren tomorrow (Friday 17 May) and open to the public on Saturday (18 May).  Saturday will also see guided walks around the village, an exhibition in St Margaret Clitherow Church and the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum open to visitors.   All these attractions with a Cook connection are free for the day!

For more details check out:

  • The parish council scheme was made possible thanks to a grant of almost £16,000 from LEADER funds – the rural development programme for the UK – along with funding from the parish and support from Hambleton District Council.
  • The North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme see funding made available through the Rural Development Programme for England 2014-2020, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.