Creating a country house setting at Killerton

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John Veitch had a great impact on Killerton’s landscape, working here for over 70 years. He grew up in Scotland, helping his father manage the woodlands at Ancrum and developing a love of trees that inspired his design of Killerton’s parkland. 

Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 7th Bt, hired Veitch in 1770 when he was 19 years old. Veitch was sent to West Country estates such as Saltram – where head gardener Mr Henshaw was planting a new park – to observe and learn. 

Laying out Killerton’s park

Veitch first planted a lovely orchard and made practical repairs. He then used the shape of the land to develop the parkland. 

He dramatised the hill behind the house by planting tall trees on it, contrasting below with a gentle sweep of lawn into the valley floor beyond. New paths and drives followed natural contours, placed to take advantage of breathtaking views in the distance. 

Sir Thomas’s son John died in 1778, prompting Veitch’s promotion to head steward of the Acland estates. Veitch continued as head steward after Sir Thomas’s death in 1785. 

A new era

In 1808 Sir Thomas the 10th Baronet came of age. He requested significant changes to Killerton. 

Veitch re-worked parkland by the house into a garden with rustic buildings, sweeping pathways and flowerbeds. (Previously the only garden was a small area where the forecourt now is.)

He also built a new deer wall so that Park Wood (to the north-west of the house) could become pleasure grounds for the family to enjoy. The Plain, north of the house, gradually became an arboretum (a collection of trees).

Killerton today

The parkland is richly diverse, having developed over 200 years or more. You can explore and enjoy the parkland, discovering the ancient and veteran trees and the plants and animals that live amongst them.