Restoration of the Parterre

Summer bedding in the Parterre at Kingston Lacy

We are currently working to restore the Parterre at Kingston Lacy in order to return it to its former glory and improve it for the future.

The Parterre forms an integral part of the formal garden at Kingston Lacy.  It sits to the east of the property and was first laid out by Walter Ralph Bankes in 1899 using a design by CE Ponting, the Diocesan architect for Salisbury. Inspired by the Dutch style gardens of continental Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the flower beds were designed with the view from the loggia in the house in mind. The spacing between the beds gets wider the further away to give a false sense of perspective. Colourful displays of High Victorian bedding gave both spring and summer interest, complemented by a fine turf lawn. In 1912, Henrietta Bankes added the golden yew topiary in the form of four ‘balls’ in the centre, surrounded by twelve ‘skittles’.  

When the National Trust was bequeathed the property in 1983, these yews were very overgrown. They were cut back to stumps and allowed to regrow, but over the years have once again outgrown their original proportions. The beds were edged with wood which was rotten, and the original fine turf was a mixture of many rougher grasses.

A historic photograph of the Parterre at Kingston Lacy
A historic photograph of the Parterre at Kingston Lacy
A historic photograph of the Parterre at Kingston Lacy

The garden team has recently finished renewing the Parterre to bring it back to its former glory, and improve it for the future. While the layout of the parterre remains exactly the same, we have improved the infrastructure to preserve this focal point of the formal garden.  Luckily we could work from the original Ponting plan that still exists in the Bankes’ archives. The beds have been prefabricated in metal to the precise sizes.  New topiary has been sourced and a new lawn of fine turf grasses has been seeded. 

Next time you visit you will see the return of the vibrant summer bedding as well as the new yew topiary. 

Birds eye plan of Parterre beds, original Ponting 1899 design
Birdseye plan of Parterre beds at Kingston Lacy
Birds eye plan of Parterre beds, original Ponting 1899 design