Hestercombe House and Gardens, paradise restored

Beautiful stacked stone wall and arch leading to the formal gardens designed by Gertrude Jekell at Hestercombe Gardens

Beautiful stacked stone wall and arch leading to the formal gardens designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekell at Hestercombe Gardens.

Hestercombe is located on the southern side of the Quantock Hills in Somerset. The first mention of Hestercombe was in the Charter of 854 during Anglo-Saxon times. From 1391 until 1872 the Warre family owned the property. A mention of a garden at the site was made in 1249 as a record of “my Lord of Hestercombe’s garden.” The property was sold to the Somerset County Council in 1978, and restoration of the gardens began in earnest in 2003.  Remarkably, the original drawings of Gertrude Jekyll’s planting plans were located in a drawer in the potting shed in 1973.

The garden contains three distinct areas. The largest, a thirty-five acre site of  the “Landscape Garden” , “a secret wooded valley revealing an Arcadian scene of cascades and urns with sheep grazing beside a pear-shaped lake. The garden was constructed in a long narrow valley (Hester Combe) that runs due north south.  It was designed by Coplestone Warren Bampfylde between 1750 and 1786 as a circuit with surprises, variations and subtle changes of mood together with a number of carefully orchestrated views each comprised as if they were a landscape painting; hence the description  Landscape garden.” (Hestercombe Gardens, An Illustrated History and Guide, Hestercombe Gardens Trust, Ltd.Copyright  Philip White, 1999, 2006.)

The second garden area was developed originally in the Victorian period, and today can be seen restored as the Victorian Terrace near the house.

The third, and most significant area of the gardens is the collaborative effort of friends and colleagues Sir Edwin Lutyens and incredible plants-woman Gertrude Jekyll. Known as the Formal Garden, it was designed in 1904 by Lutyens, with planting plans developed and completed between 1904 and 1908 by Gertrude Jekyll. Most of my images below are of the incredible “bones” of this gorgeous garden which can best be viewed in winter and early spring, rather than the later glory of the plantings.

All photographs copyright Susan Holland, Digging Dakota.

In the "Landscape Garden" designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde betweeen 1750 and 1786 in the naturalistic style that features "scenes" as one would view in a landscape painting, and thus called a Landscape garden. This image shows the Great Cascade.

In the "Landscape Garden" designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde between 1750 and 1786 in the naturalistic style that features "scenes" as one would view in a landscape painting, and thus called a Landscape garden. This image shows the Great Cascade.

A walkway into the rustic "Landscape" gardens of Hestercombe Gardens

A walkway into the rustic "Landscape" gardens of Hestercombe Gardens

The Witch House, a delight for the eighteenth century visitors. "The murmur of the water the gloom of the wood the fanciful ornaments of the Cave renders this spot a piece of poetic scenery that is infinitely pleasing." Henry Hawkins Tremayne writing in 1785.

The Witch House, a delight for the eighteenth century visitors. "The murmur of the water the gloom of the wood the fanciful ornaments of the Cave renders this spot a piece of poetic scenery that is infinitely pleasing." Henry Hawkins Tremayne writing in 1785.

Timber and rush roof of shelter at Hestercombe Gardens

Timber and rush roof of shelter at Hestercombe Gardens

 

Another lovely ceiling / roof structure at Hestercombe

Another lovely ceiling / roof structure at Hestercombe

Hestercombe bench

Hestercombe bench

Hestercombe House estate lands

Hestercombe House estate lands

Gate

Gate

Looking toward Hestercombe House from the Formal Gardens

Looking toward Hestercombe House from the Formal Gardens

Spring growth in the Gray Walk

Spring growth in the Gray Walk

Stone poetry

Stone poetry

 

Hestercombe House from the Gardens

Hestercombe House from the Formal Gardens, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll between 1904 and 1908.

Pathway toward stone arch at Hestercombe House

Pathway toward stone arch at Hestercombe House

Innovative used of space under stone arch for multi media presentation at Hestercombe House

Innovative used of space under stone arch for multi media presentation at Hestercombe House

 

Luscious grays and greens in the garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll

Luscious grays and greens in the garden designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll

Looking west toward the Orangery at Hestercombe Gardens

Looking west toward the Orangery at Hestercombe Gardens. The south Somerset yellow Ham stone is used by Lutyens to great advantage, as it seems to glow above the local slate.

Inside the Orangery looking west

Inside the Orangery looking west

Inside the Orangery

Inside the Orangery

Stone basin to keep the humidity levels high in the Orangery

Stone basin to keep the humidity levels high in the Orangery

 

Knarly plant root and stone wall

Knarly plant root and stone wall

Incredible patterns made by shadow on plant stems and stone

Incredible patterns made by shadow on plant stems and stone

Superb stonework at Hestercombe Gardens

Superb stonework at Hestercombe Gardens

Window onto the gardens at Hestercombe highlighting the incredible partnership between Gertrude Jekyll and architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Window onto the gardens at Hestercombe highlighting the incredible partnership between Gertrude Jekyll and architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Stone terrace

Stone terrace

Stone details

Stone details

 

Stone patterns

Stone patterns

Stone layers

Stone layers. The local silvery-grey morte slate, a sedimentary sandstone is used to great effect in this formal garden, accented to great effect by the use of south Somerset yellow Ham stone.

Hestercombe House

Hestercombe House

Annual planting bed at Hestercombe House

Annual planting bed at Hestercombe House

 

Looking south at the formal gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll, April 6, 2012

Looking south at the formal gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll. April 6, 2012

Hestercombe walkway

Hestercombe walkway

Hestercombe covered walkway

Hestercombe covered walkway

 

One of two water 'rill", a narrow canal moving water to the pools.

One of two water 'rill", a narrow canal moving water to the pools. Later in the season they will be lush with water-loving plants, such as iris, arums, water forget-me-nots and yellow musk.

.Further Resources:

The Stones of Hestercombe. Geological Tour of the Rocks and Stonework of Hestercombe Gardens. By Hugh Prudden and Philip White. Copyright Hestercombe Gardens Trust, 2007.

http://hestercombe.com

http://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk