Visit – Miserden and Cerney House Gardens
June 23 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Two stunning Cotswold gardens ‘each in its own bubble of tranquillity’.
Miserden Park (nr. Stroud), a property of the Wills family since 1913, is a suitably historic property to have won Historic Houses Association ‘Garden of the Year’ in 2018. For centuries a royal manor (at one time providing the dowries for Henry VIII’s many wives) Musarder [sic] was bought by Sir William Sandys (a nephew of the Archbishop of York), in 1620, as his principal seat. He and his immediate heirs built a fine multi-gabled Jacobean mansion (subsequently much modified) as well as the terraced gardens that overlook the steep, wooded ‘Golden Valley’ (shown in Kip’s engraving of 1720, below). Still surviving is a mulberry tree reputed to date from the 1620s (when James I was attempting to foster the silk industry by insisting courtiers planted this tree) and possibly the walled garden shown to the left of the house.
A later C18th naturalisation ‘done with much taste’, softened the terraces, leaving a sloping lawn ‘belted with shrubs and flower borders, [and] excellent gravel walks’. The garden also had a 40′ glasshouse, a walled kitchen garden and flower garden. These works appear to have helped bankrupt the Sandys family, forcing a sale in 1832.
By 1845 the house had a gable-free Georgian façade but shortly afterwards the architect Alfred Waterhouse restored the house to its Jacobean form. After acquiring the property in 1913, the Wills tobacco family employed the fashionable architect Edwin Lutyens to rebuild the west wing and loggia and to introduce multiple bathrooms and central heating. He also advised on laying out the approach to the house and on the gardens. It is thought that the existing topiary, in particular, is attributable to him.
The walled garden is halved longitudinally with one side given over to one of the longest double herbaceous borders in the country (90m) , flanking a wide lawn, and the other to a series of ‘garden rooms’ culminating in a parterre garden planted with hebe, apricot potentilla and lavender, surrounding a sundial. Below is a more recent feature, a water garden and octagonal summerhouse built to celebrate the millennium. Lawns, valley views and an arboretum complete a garden that is ‘Timeless. Gorgeous’. There is a plant nursery and greenhouse cafe, where lunch may be taken (subject to Covid restrictions). There will be a ten minute introduction to the garden.
Cerney House lies in its own valley, with the main garden rising steeply behind. This occupies the old, walled vegetable garden which whilst still providing vegetables is now principally ornamental. At the top, a summer house set in formal plantings overlooks the garden and distant Cotswold landscape beyond. In the foreground, a riot of climbing roses and clematis frame an iron gate leading to herbaceous borders and a knot garden. Organic in approach, plants tumble happily over each other and fill the air with perfume. Below the house are lawns, an avenue and shrub borders.
We will be given a guided tour by the owner and tea is included, Covid restrictions allowing.
This trip will be by minibus, if desired.
09.30 Depart Tesco, Warwick
11.00 Arrive Miserden
13.45 Depart for Cerney House
16.30 Depart from Cerney House
18.00 Arrive Tesco, Warwick