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Caroline Thomson, through her mother's line, is a direct descendent of the Backhouses and it is this connection that has led to the formation of the Backhouse Heritage Daffodil Collection at Rofsie. A Museum of related items is currently being formed within the grounds.

The Backhouse Daffodils

The Backhouses were a Quaker family several of whom became highly regarded naturalists and horticulturists. James Backhouse (1721- 1798), founded the Backhouse Bank in Darlington, Co. Durham in 1774, with his sons Jonathan (1747-1826) and James (1757-1804). Jonathan (1779-1842), (better known as a supporter of the Stockton- Darlington Railway), Edward (1781-1860), (founder of the Backhouse Bank in Sunderland) and William (1779-1844) were all awarded medals by the Royal Society of Arts for their enterprise.

William Backhouse II, was the great grandson of James Backhouse, and grandson of Jonathan Backhouse, the founders of the Backhouse Bank. He continued the family interest in botany, and became a competent entomologist, ornithologist, geologist and meteorologist. William worked at the Newcastle branch of the Backhouse Bank established in 1825 and became a founder member of The Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne in 1829. He is the first of the Backhouse line to have developed a number of new varieties of Narcissus.

Three of William's sons, kept up the family interest in daffodils. Charles James Backhouse continued to live at St. John's Hall, near Wolsingham, Co. Durham, the residence of his late father. Henry Backhouse lived in Darlington from 1895-1907 and then in Bournemouth until 1925. Robert Ormston Backhouse married Sarah Elizabeth Dodgson in 1884, and moved to Sutton Court, Sutton St. Nicholas, Hereford.

Sarah, achieved national fame, being awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Barr Cup in 1916, and in 1923 Robert astounded the horticultural world with the first pink daffodil which he named "Mrs. R. 0. Backhouse". Robert and Sarah's son, William Ormston Backhouse, worked at the John Innes Institute, before becoming a geneticist for the Argentine Government. William received narcissi from his parents, and in South America continued the family tradition set by his grandfather. He specialised in red-trumpeted daffodils, and on his return to Sutton Court in 1945, continued to develop these varieties.

Time your holiday in one of Rofsie's holiday cottages and you will be able to see over 40 varieties of Daffodils, including Mrs RO Backhouse. A rare collection of the original daffodil raisings from the Backhouse Family Gardens have been transported to Rofsie with great care, they are now flourishing. Stunning Daffodil Walks around the Estate are being planted and extended every year. Please contact us.


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