Great British Gardens: Hestercombe – An Iconic Lutyens Lanscape in Somerset

December 24, 2014 - garden totes


Hestercombe is a garden in Somerset that facilities both a 17th century Landscape Garden and an critical Edwardian garden by a pattern group of Edward Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. The garden is a high-point of their partnership and outlines a commencement of a 20th century English garden style.

The Story

Hestercombe House

Hestercombe House

The estate during Hestercombe dates behind to Anglo-Saxon times and was assigned by a Warres family from 1391 until 1872. In a second half of a 18th century a drift were laid out in a Landscape Style by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde, a gifted classicist, and a crony and confidant to Henry Hoare during a circuitously estate of Stourhead. The gardens he total can still be seen beside a after garden and Hestercombe is maybe a singular event to see dual vital pattern styles of English gardens during a singular site.

In 1872, Miss Elizabeth Warre, who was a final member of a Warre family, died and a skill was purchased by a 1st Viscount Portman, who carried out endless re-modelling of a house. His grandson, a Hon Edward Portman, consecrated Edwin Lutyens to emanate a new grave garden in 1903.

The engineer Edward Lutyens had not nonetheless begun his work for a War Graves Commission following WWI, or his origination of a new collateral of British India, a city of Delhi, in a 1920s, for that he was to be knighted, though he did already have a repute for his homes, that were in a Arts and Crafts tradition and featured glorious craftsmanship and hand-work. He had also met a garden engineer Gertrude Jekyll when in 1896 he designed her home during Munstead Wood, in Surrey. They had left on to rise a partnership as garden designers.

Lutyens and Jekyll had grown a character that total a grave classicism and a use of healthy materials such as section and stone, with an spontaneous proceed to planting, regulating audacious shrubs and long-lived plants in arrangements that directed to arrangement tiny apparent order, though that in fact blended colours and forms with a new subtleness that would set a character for a subsequent century. Lutyens did many of a blueprint of a beds, paths and walls and Jekyll chose and orderly a plantings.

Gertrude Jekyll (pronounced with a double-e like ‘Jeep’) was innate in 1843 and she was one of those singular people who mix an artistic talent with a adore for and bargain of science. She complicated art during a South Kensington School of Art in London, though also complicated botany, optics and a scholarship of colour. She was severely captivated to a work of a French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul, whose technical book, The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours, published in 1854, was a initial work to residence a outcome of colours on any other and a origination of peace between colours. She knew William Morris and like Lutyens had been engrossed into Romanticism and a Arts and Crafts Movement.

In gardening she was strongly shabby by William Robinson, who had damaged with a 19th century use of proposal ‘bedding plants’, such as geraniums and petunias, in formal, firm designs that used primary colours and elementary colour contrasts. Robinson had an successful gardening repository (which Jekyll was to write extensively for) that championed a use of audacious long-lived flowers, bulbs and flowering shrubs to move colour though a artificiality of Victorian bedding schemes.

After Lutyens designed Munstead Wood for her mother, Gertrude designed a garden around their home and this shortly done her well-known, heading to commissions for garden designs and her partnership with Lutyens. Hestercombe is mostly deliberate a high-point of that partnership and it is also a many permitted of their gardens.

In1944 a skill was taken by a Crown Estates in lieu of genocide duties and had several used during a rest of final century. The residence and gardens are now managed by a free trust and in new years a gardens have been easy to a strange Lutyens/Jekyll plans.

The Gardens


The gardens are in dual graphic parts, connected on a grand scale by mill stairs forward a grassy, terraced bank, famous as a Daisy Steps, designed by Lutyens.

The 16 acres of Landscape Garden designed by C.W. Bampfylde were mostly mislaid during a 19th century though have been restored. Although not allied with other good designs of a 18th century it does give a good pattern of a Picturesque character of that time. There are dual ponds, a reduce one called a Pear Pond, connected by a cascade that upsurge into a tide with a array of tiny cascades using by a Valley of Cascades, designed in 1791. Further down is a Great Cascade down a hilly bank, that can be noticed from an adjacent grassy terrace. There are countless vantage points gift views over a garden opposite a Taunton valley. There are glorious views from a Gothic Alcove, a mine of a Bampfylde summer residence from 1761. Other facilities embody a Friendship Urn dedicated to his loyalty with Henry Hoare, a easy Temple Arbour and a Witch House.

It is a Lutyens/Jekyll garden however that is a categorical captivate during Hestercombe, and this is situated behind a house. The garden starts directly behind a south side of a house, where a rectilinear weed patio built during a late 19th century has been retained. To a west of a top patio there is a immeasurable Rose Garden, featuring aged and singular varieties of roses. To a easterly there is an opening into an enclosed area that is a focus of a garden. This area – The Rotunda – is enclosed by turn walls and facilities a executive pool with minute and formidable patterns in mill paving radiating from it.

The exit from a Rotunda to a easterly leads into a prolonged garden dominated by an Orangery. This is a single-storey structure with high arched windows, designed in a character of Christopher Wren. These buildings were facilities of gardens in progressing centuries as places to grow proposal plants, generally citrus trees and pre-date a record indispensable to build full greenhouses. Beyond a garden containing a Orangery is an opening into The Dutch Garden, that is not unequivocally a Dutch Garden during all. Typical Dutch Gardens in a English garden context underline elaborate topiary, though nonetheless this garden has a grave plan, with mill paving, it facilities long-lived plants such as lavender, catmint, roses, audacious fuchsias and a Jekyll favourite, a audacious Yucca filamentosa with a high spikes of large, perfumed white flowers.

On a south side of a patio behind a residence a garden descends in slight terraces to a categorical feature, The Great Plat, a immeasurable grave block garden that carries undertones of Victorian bedding schemes though is an try to emanate a new character of formalism. This area is a tiny over 100 feet square, with a immeasurable cranky of grass on a erratic and smaller beds between a arms of a cross. The pattern is edged in paving stones and a planting is not proposal plants though groups of long-lived plants and tiny shrubs. The Plat is fallen next a surrounding area, so it can be looked down on from a sides, in a demeanour of many Renaissance grave gardens. There are semi-circular mill stairs in a 4 corners joining a top and reduce levels.

On possibly side are dual matching gardens, The Water Gardens, that underline a slight executive H2O waterway in brick, joining 3 turn pools assembled with opposite inlet to accommodate opposite class of H2O plants. The sides of these levels are planted with long-lived beds.

The H2O in a canals flows over a corner into tanks placed on a somewhat reduce turn that encloses a Great Plat to a south. Here there is a prolonged travel featuring a 200 feet arbour with views unaware a valley. The Pergola is lonesome with climbing roses and other climbing plants.

The whole garden is a array of levels, looking onto any other, or formulating privacy, connected by stairs and entered by arches. Terraces are mostly edged in mill balustrades. There are countless urns, walls flashy with cherubs and other embellishment displaying learned craftsmanship. These changes in levels and a views and vistas total are an constituent partial of a pattern and feel of this garden.


Lutyens Jekyll gardens are characterised by their multiple of ritual in layout, a use of healthy materials in a Arts and Crafts tradition and formidable spontaneous plantings featuring pointed colour combinations and shifts. Hestercombe displays this maybe improved than any of their gardens still in existence.

The garden is a pivotal change from Victorian bedding schemes with their unique artificiality and a Landscape Garden, that emphasised semi-natural landscape during a responsibility of accumulation in plant material. The Hestercombe garden character has been called a Architectural Garden, that combines clever structure with healthy planting in a approach that was to browbeat 20th century garden design. It also authorised gardeners a event to use a immeasurable array of outlandish plants, both furious and a products of plant breeding, that had turn accessible towards a finish of a 19th century and later, though had not found a genuine place in gardens before.

Further Reading

There is no singular book on Hestercombe, though a garden is featured in countless books on English gardens and on a life of Gertrude Jekyll. Some good starting points would be:

The Story of Gardening, by Penelope Hobhouse (2002)

The Oxford Companion to Gardens, by Patrick Goode, Michael Lancaster, Geoffrey Jellicoe Susan Jellicoe (2001)

The Gardens of Gertrude Jekyll, by Richard Bisgrove (1992)

Gardens of a Golden Afternoon: The Story of a Partnership, Edwin Lutyens Gertrude Jekyll, by Jane Brown (1982)

Most of Gertrude Jekyll’s books on gardening can still be found in several editions and reprints. Some titles are:

Wood and Garden (1899)

Home and garden (1900)

Roses for English Gardens (1902)

Colour in a flower garden (1908)

Children and gardens (1908)

Colour schemes for a flower garden (1919)

Practical Information

Hestercombe is managed as a private charity. It is situated in a encampment of Cheddon Fitzpaine, north of a city of Taunton, Somerset.

The gardens are open each day of a year, including all holidays, solely for Dec 25th. The gardens are open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm in summer and from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm in winter. Further information can be performed from a garden’s website:

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