Couple's legacy gives boost to garden project

The West garden project develops at Dyrham Park

Ongoing work to transform Dyrham Park's West garden has been given a boost thanks to a generous £100,000 gift from the late Mr & Mrs Satchell.

The gift, left to the National Trust by the estate of Stella and Jack Satchell will enable our garden team to recreate a 17th-century parterre on the West terrace in front of the 300+ year old house. It will also allow us to install an iron framework around the perimeter of the Avenue and plant over 120 heritage cider apple trees pruned in the espalier design of the 17th century.

Following a major conservation project to replace the leaking roof in 2015/16, work began on a five-year project to create a ‘21st-century garden with echoes of the past’. Inspired by the 1710 Kip engraving depicting a grand Dutch-influenced water garden, the garden team is taking elements of this to give visitors a flavour of the 17th Century while not simply recreating the former garden.

Garden and Park Manager Dale Dennehy, who has worked on Dyrham Park’s garden since the 1990s, explained: “Our ambition now is to create ‘a 21st-century garden with echoes from the past’. We want to develop a new approach to conserving and developing the garden, capturing the formality of Blathwayt’s great home and the formality of the baroque period. The new designs will be influenced by the previous gardens, both in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.”

Life members

Mr and Mrs Satchell, who lived in Bath, were lifetime National Trust members and enjoyed well-kept gardens, country walks and tending to their own garden before ill health set in. They were regular visitors to National Trust places in the Bath and Wilsthire area, including Stourhead and Lacock. The couples’ family decided to give the generous gift to Dyrham Park after visiting the garden and learning of the exciting ongoing plans.

Every year, many people decide to leave a gift in their Will to help the National Trust’s vital work looking after buildings, garden and land across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can find out more about leaving a gift to the National Trust at:

As a conservation charity, the National Trust relies on income from membership and entry fees as well as donations, legacies and other fundraising efforts to enable it to care for the places under its stewardship. The garden project relies on on funding to enable the work, so this gift will allow the team to make a great step forward with its plans.

The Avenue

The Avenue was the main entrance to the estate at the time of Dyrham Park founder William Blathwayt. Visitors would have entered through the iron gates and proceed up the Avenue to be greeted at the House. The new Avenue beds and planting reflects the formality of this great entrance to Blathwayt’s home, with tree removal and planting, topiary and seasonal planting the donation will help fund the Versailles-inspired iron structures needed to support fruit trees, including cider apple trees. The cider apples themselves are part of a collection gifted to the National Trust in its ambitions to save and care for rare and heritage fruit trees which are being lost across the country.

The parterre

We have also drawn inspiration from the Royal Dutch Palace of Het Loo in the Netherlands, where Blathwayt had an apartment in his role of Secretary of State to William III. The Parterres at Het Loo feature coloured gravels, hedges and topiary. This Dutch influence will be evident as we develop other areas of the gardens and courts around the house.

Mr Dennehy added: “Now that the scaffolding has been removed, our aim is to create a new design to bring out the grand formality of the Baroque era in an area of the garden where it can only be seen from within the terrace itself or from the windows of the house which is how parterres were meant to be viewed.”

Enjoyment for all

A spokesperson for the family said: “Their garden was their pride and joy and I think they would be thrilled with the plans. Everyone will pass the parterre on the way into the house and it’s an area that currently looks a big neglected; it’s great to think that mum and dad’s support will provide enjoyment for so many.”

Dyrham Park General Manager Tom Boden added: “Thanks to Mr and Mrs Satchell, the gardens at Dyrham Park will be improved considerably and this gift will inspire more people to enjoy, to linger and to relish our contemporary interpretation of the historic gardens which have gone before.”