Standen Revival: recreating Mrs Beale’s garden

Mrs Beale and gardener in the quarry garden at Standen © Standen

Mrs Beale and gardener in the quarry garden at Standen

Standen Revival is a major restoration and conservation project of the gardens at Standen. It will recreate the splendour and significance of the Arts and Crafts garden built by Mrs Beale at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.

At that time the collections of unique plants here at Standen were of horticultural significance and Mrs Beale was becoming a reputable plantswoman. She experimented with exotic plants brought back by plant hunters and from the family's own travels abroad.

This £500,000, five-year project started in October 2013 and is divided into three major phases. Phase 1 began in October 2012, phase 2 in September 2013 and phase 3 will start in September 2015. The project is scheduled for completion in February 2017.

Highlights from work so far:

  • Revealing the medieval quarry face alongside the drive
  • Reinstating the lime trees on Grandfather's Walk
  • Opening up new views from the Top Terrace across to the Ashdown Forest
  • New Arts & Crafts inspired planting in the House Courtyard
  • Opening of the extended Kitchen Garden 
  • Clearance in the bamboo garden to reinstate the rose garden

From Mrs Beale's notes

We are very fortunate to have access to many historical records of how the garden was created and its development. From 1890 until 1934, Margaret Beale kept a diary of what happened in the garden. This is a vital source of information on plants, people and places.

Margaret Beale also kept a series of weather notes that listed when particular plants flowered, when extreme conditions killed certain plants and mentions certain garden features that are not listed elsewhere.

From the diary and surviving receipts, it is possible to conclude that Mrs Beale’s taste went beyond a general interest in collecting plants; some were rare new introductions. The nurseries used by Margaret Beale were the very best in the country at the time.

This project is a very significant investment for us and will ensure that this special place is preserved for future generations. The engagement of volunteers in our work is an important aspect of the restoration and ongoing maintenance of the garden.