Hidden features in Killerton garden

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Like many manorial gardens, Killerton is dotted with quirky features, some of which are more hidden than others...

On the hill stands the Bear’s Hut, a charming rustic summerhouse. Hidden behind it is the Rock Garden and secreted at the top is the Ice House entrance, built in 1808. 


The Rock Garden
The old quarry area was transformed with ferns, conifers and tumbled rocks. A basalt stone column brought back from the Giant’s Causeway by Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 10th Baronet, and his wife Lydia stood as a focal point.

Sir Charles Dyke Acland, 12th Bt, and his wife Gertrude remodelled this area in the early 20th century, turning it into a contemporary rock garden with alpine plants. It has recently been replanted with Himalayan species, chosen for suitability and a connection with the Aclands: Sir Francis Dyke Acland, 14th Bt, sponsored Frank Kingdon-Ward’s plant-hunting expedition to the Himalayas in the 1920s.

The Rock Garden features rocky outcrops and a myriad of fascinating plants, with a central pool fed by a stream running down the rock face.

The Deer Wall
Near the Bear's Hut is the early 18th-century deer park pale, designed to keep the deer herd in. Originally the pale was formed by a ditch, wall and bank with wooden paling along the top.

Stone-facing was put on the wall by labourers left without work when Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway suffered funding problems. As a nearby landowner Sir Thomas, 10th Bt, hired the labourers to prevent unemployment.

The structure remains as a wall and planted ditch, forming what is known in Devon as a ‘Goyle’ – a dark sunken path. You can see the Goyle and remaining stone-facing from the Rustic Bridge near the Bear’s Hut.