A series of discrete spaces
The garden at Chastleton presents an intimate and beautiful setting for the house. With views from the windows which draw you out to the topiary, kitchen garden and wilderness, it's up to you whether you explore, bask in the sunshine or sit inthe shade of the magnificent trees.
We take a unique approach here at Chastleton by conserving and preserving the house in the condition in which it was found. But how does that approach translate to the garden, where living things grow and change?
The garden nods to changing garden fashions but still largely has its original Jacobean layout, with divisions according to use whilst still preserving the idea of a series of discrete spaces and a secret garden feel of 'romantic neglect'.
The Best Garden topiary
The Jacobean ‘Pleasaunce’, or Pleasure Garden, was known by the early 1700s as the Best Garden, a name that entirely sums up its status and relationship to the house. It was accessible only via the Great Parlour and overlooked by the Great Chamber, Fettiplace Room and the Long Gallery. Through it the family and their guests could walk straight to the church.
Topiary came into fashion in Britain following its introduction to Hampton Court in the 1590s. The Chastleton topiary has probably been replanted three times with its peak coming in the early 20th century. During this time, it was regularly clipped into shapes including a cat, teapot, snail, chicken and peacock among many other designs. However, by the 1970s the topiary was being clipped only once a year and eventually lost their distinct shapes.
A project is underway to bring the Best Garden back to a version of what it might have looked like at the turn of the 20th century. Flower beds, in and around the central circular feature, have been re-cut and planted up and now we wait to see how it matures and grows over the coming years.
Anyone for Croquet?
Standing on the north terrace you will see the croquet lawns. It’s interesting to think about the games that have been played here and how they have reflected changing fashions. For example, in the Jacobean times, these lawns were used to play bowls on and it was popular enough to warrant the building of a viewing terrace to watch games being played.
The Victorian residents of Chastleton favoured croquet then tennis. Walter Whitmore Jones codified the rules of croquet on these very lawns and during the summer you can sometimes see some Chastleton volunteers playing a game or two!
The Kitchen Garden and Wilderness Walk
In 1849 John Henry Whitmore Jones enclosed a patch of the adjacent field to make the present Kitchen Garden. When the National Trust took over, this Victorian layout had been replaced by lawn, however it is now fully restored. The produce now grown here is sold from the second-hand bookshop, and cut flowers are used in the house.
The Wilderness was a late Victorian addition and was designed to be natural but neatly maintained. It was more than likely meant to be a perimeter walk of the garden and today you can walk around it and take in the changing views of the house through the seasons.