A rich and varied history
Though a relatively new house by National Trust standards, Knightshayes still has a rich and varied history, influenced by the people who lived and worked here.
The house was built by Sir John Heathcoat Amory, the grandson of John Heathcoat, creator of the mechanised bobbin lace making machine and owner of a lace factory in Tiverton.
The foundation stone was laid in 1869, but it was not until 1873 that the elaborate interior designs were completed. William Burges, designer of Knightshayes, had a rocky relationship with the family and was fired half way through the project, leaving his imaginative vision incomplete.
Burges was replaced by another reputable designer, John Dibblee Crace, who turned out to be another ill-fated choice. Much of Carce's work was covered up by the family, but later restored by the Trust.
The kitchen garden was an essential part of Victorian country estate life, providing food, flowers and exotic fruit for the family. It was used until the 1960s and was particularly important during the two World Wars. Left in a poor condition, the garden was restored by us in 2001.
Originally designed by Edward Kemp (1817-1891), a reputable landscape gardener, the formal garden fell into decline by the 1920s. Rescued by Sir John and Lady Heathcoat Amory, after the Second World War, the garden became one of the finest in England, winning the highest horticultural awards, with more than 1,200 species unique to Knightshayes.