James Bateman (July 18, 1811 - November 27, 1897)
Born at Redivals near Bury in Lancashire, he matriculated from Lincoln College, Oxford in 1829, graduating from Magdalen College with a BA in 1834 and an MA in 1845. While studying at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1845, Bateman took great interest in collecting and cultivating tropical plants. Later, he became a fellow of Royal Horticultural Society; published writings on orchids and other horticultural subjects.
He was a collector of and scholar on orchids, President of the North Staffordshire Field Society, and served on the Royal Horticultural Society's Plant Exploration Committee. He had a number of notable sons who grew up at Biddulph Grange, including the painter Robert Bateman.
Bateman was a prominent collector and scholar on orchids and was one of the early developers of orchid culture. He sponsored expeditions to Mexico and South America enabling collectors to gather rare specimens. He published three lavish books about orchids. He pioneered "cool orchid cultivation" which enabled members of the genus Odontoglossum to be cultivated in England by replicating the cool arid climate of the cloud forests in Central America where these exotic flowers are found. Walter Hood Fitch, (1817-1892) was employed by Bateman to create the paintings for his magnificent orchid books. In addition to this work, Bateman produced A Monograph of Odontoglossum which is comprised of thirty large scale hand-colored lithographs.
Bateman's gardens are a rare survival of the interim period between Capability Brown landscape garden and the High Victorian style. The gardens are compartmentalized and divided into themes. He was also responsible for laying out the Arboretum at Derby, the first public park in England. The naturalist Charles Darwin received a box of orchids from Bateman on 25 January 1862 and a letter from him dated 28th January 1862.
The novel by Priscilla Masters, Mr Bateman's Garden (1987), is a fantasy set in the gardens. In 1861 Bateman and his sons gave up the house and gardens, and he moved to Kensington in London. He later moved to Worthing in Sussex, where he died in 1897.