Recreation of a George London garden

Hanbury Hall is the very essence of a countryside retreat; impressive yet intimate and welcoming. It owes much of that feeling to its beautiful, recreated eighteenth century gardens.

The original gardens were designed in 1705 by George London, predecessor to other renowned designers Kent, Brown and Nash. He was the most celebrated garden designer of his time creating gardens for royalty and nobility at Chatsworth, Hampton Court and Kensington Palace.

The English garden was influenced heavily by Dutch, William of Orange’s Gardens at Palais Het Loo as well as those of Louis XIV at Versailles. In their interpretation by George London, garden designs became softer and more incorporative of the surrounding English Landscape.

London created gardens where his patrons could escape the tumultuous early eighteenth-century world within his formal designs, using mathematical precision and newly discovered and imported plants; he created a safe haven for drama, fun and recreation.

Drawing of Hanbury's bowling green by Thornhill
Drawing of Hanbury's bowling green by Thornhill

Later, as the Landscape movement gained momentum through the mid-1700s, formal Parterres and closely trimmed topiary gave way to more relaxed, Brownian landscapes. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the gardens at Hanbury were also swept away, replaced with wide open spaces and uninterrupted views. They remained as such for the next 200 years.

View of Hanbury Hall after the removal of the formal gardens
View of Hanbury Hall after the removal of the formal gardens

The formal designs of George London were mostly lost due to the changing fashions in garden design at the time.  Perhaps only one original garden remains, at Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire but other London gardens have been faithfully recreated, first at  Hampton Court Palace in the Privy Garden and then at Hanbury Hall in the Great Garden.

 

The Recreation of London’s Garden

In the early 1990’s work began on the recreation of London’s garden at Hanbury Hall. Not a trace of the original garden remained but using London’s original 1705 plans along with other historic plans and drawings, our Gardens and Park Manager, Neil worked with a team of experts to determine the layout of the topiary and hedge framework that made up the stunning structure of the Great Garden. Historic planting guides were also used to select appropriate plants to fill the parterre and surrounding boarders with colour and scent throughout the seasons.

Hanbury Hall. Dougharty plan, 1732.
Hanbury Hall. Dougharty plan, 1732.
Recreated London Gardens Plan. 1990.
Recreated London Gardens Plan. 1990.
" It has been a privilege seeing the garden develop over the last twenty one years it seems like only yesterday that the grand opening took place. Like all great gardens they change and develop over the years, their character matures but like Peter Pans they never really grow up."
- Neil Cook, Gardens and Park Manager

On 28th July 1995, the gardens were officially opened and since then, the gardening team at Hanbury have lovingly and patiently maintained this recreated historic gem.


Hanbury’s garden is now one of just three of its kind in the country. So whilst we continue to celebrate Brown’s momentous achievements in landscape design, let’s also remember to celebrate the quiet perfectionist gardens of George London at Hanbury.