Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Hidcote Gardens - Gloucestershie

If Snowshill Manor was all about one person, so was Hidcote Manor, but whereas Snowshill harbours an eclectic collection that polarises views (love it or dislike it0 Hidcote is a creation that rivals the best that the Royal Horticultural Association can offer.

Lawrence Johnson was born in Paris of American parents in October 1871. His parents were wealthy stockbrokers and they arranged for him to be educated at home. When he was old enough he qualified for Cambridge in 1893.

He graduated from Cambridge and became a British citizen. In 1900 he enlisted in the Army and was posted to Africa to participate in the Boer War. In only a year he received his first commission, and also began to develop a love of exotic flaura. He soon became a major. He fought in WW1 and was eventually wounded at Ypres. He was sent to recuperate at Hidcote. Whilst there he began to develop his love of gardens.

In 1907 his mother had bought Hidcote Manor for £7200. The land covered 300 acres of farmland and rolling hills and valleys. When the war was over, Johnson turned his attention to developing a magnificent 10½ acre garden surrounding the house. He designed the layout meticulously and then went on exploratory trips to parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. He gathered many rare and exotic plants and brought them home.

Johnson did not seek publicity or fame, but in 1930 an article in County Life alerted the gardening world to what he had achieved. In 1924 he bought a second home on the Mediterranean coast of France and by 1945 he was spending most of his time there. When the Second World War finished, Johnson opened negotiations with the National Trust and in 1948 the NT took ownership and control.

Since then the gardens have been maintained and even improved. The upkeep is meticulous, as evident by the rigidly straight lines of all the trims hedges and walkways. There isn’t a corner of the land that doesn’t catch the eye, and one visit will never be enough.

GL55 6LR

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Arlington Court - Devon

A Georgian style house was built on the site in 1790. This was eventually bought by Colonel John Palmer Chichester, who had it demolished and commissioned the building of a neoclassical replacement. Work on this commenced in 1820. Colonel Chichester died in 1823, just as the building was completed.

Over the next 100 years there were further additions to the building and it expanded considerably. Eventually ownership passed to Rosalie Chichester, who remained unmarried. Having no one to leave her home to, Rosalie gifted the house to the National Trust in 1947, two years before she died.

Today the house displays antique furniture, and the National Trust also runs the National Carriage Museum on the site, with more than 50 horse drawn carriages on display.

EX31 4LP

Monday, 8 June 2020

Moggerhanger Park - Bedfordshire

The first house built at Moggerhanger was Georgian. During the years 1790 to 1793 the architect John Soane was commissioned to design and upgrade the mansion. Soane was again commissioned to make further alterations, and these were completed in 1812.

The landscape gardener Humphry Lepton was commissioned to design and create the gardens and grounds, and these can still be enjoyed today.

The house was used as a hospital for most of the 20th century. In 1919 it was opened as TB isolation hospital, and then became an orthopedic hospital in the late 1950s. In 1960 it was renamed Park Hospital, but closed in 1987. The house then went into disrepair, until rescued by the current owners.

Entry to the house and guided tours are available, both through the Historic Houses Association and the management of Moggerhanger Park.

Moggerhanger Park

MK44 3RW

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Hughenden Manor - Buckinghamshire

 Hughenden manor can be found nestled in 3000 acres of the beautiful Chilterns on a site that has been occupied for more than 1000 years.

Recorded history at Hughenden began with the Norman Conquest. There was a large farm on the site and this was gifted to Bishop Odo of Bayeux. Eventually it passed to Geoffrey de Clinton and he began to develop the estate, including building what is now the church of St Michael & All Angels, which can be found to the left as you enter the estate from the main road.

A lodge began to grow and this developed into a larger farmhouse. Sir Robert Dormer took over in 1538 and he established the Dormer Estate and included alms houses close to the church.

In 1738 Charles Savage had become the owner and he converted what had become a large Tudor farmhouse into a manor. In 1771 the estate became the possession of the Norris Family and in 1816 John Norris made major changes to the interior, introducing the Gothic style, but outside he gave the manor a Georgian look.

The parkland was established as such in 1820. In 1846 Benjamin Disraeli, who was trying to establish himself, borrowed heavily, but with a determination to make something of Hughenden, and himself. Gradually he began to achieve his various ambitions and in 1862 Mary Anne Disraeli began major alterations, including replacing the white stucco exterior with red bricks. She also established an Italianate garden.

In 1893 Conningby Disraeli began a programme of modernisation, adding plumbing, electricity and the new West Wing.

Benjamin Disraeli had died in 1881. Instead of being buried in Westminster Abbey he was interred at Hughenden.

When the Disraeli family had exhausted their use of Hughenden it was taken over by the Disraeli Society and they created a museum. However, the manor and the estate were requisitioned by the Government and it became a centre for secret mapmaking. When that was over there was seen to be quite a lot of damage to the house, but particularly to the gardens. So in 1947 it was passed to the National Trust, but it wasn’t until 1983 that all restoration work was completed.

Now Hughenden has more to offer that ever before. It is a haven for wildlife, both arboreal and open landscape. It is filled with history and the gardens have been restored to glory.

HP14 4LA