Past and present in the garden at Lytes Cary Manor

The view from one of the windows at Lytes Cary, Charlton Mackrell, Somerton, Somerset

The garden that you see today at Lytes Cary Manor is very different to the garden that would have originally existed when the Lyte family were in residence.

In the beginning

The garden would have once been a very practical, working space. Henry Lyte, who lived in the house in the 1550s, was a keen herbalist and gardener. His son Thomas wrote that he grew apples, pears, plums, grapes, cherries, walnuts and peaches.

Sadly, much of the original garden was lost after the Lytes family sold the estate in 1755. The following years saw a series of owners and tenants occupying the Manor, and the garden disappeared as the land was farmed right up to the house.


Twentieth century changes

When the Jenner family took up residence in 1907, Sir Walter and Lady Flora created a new garden. The design was Arts and Crafts-inspired and featured mostly rectangular ‘rooms’ separated by yew hedges and stone walls, each reflecting a different mood or purpose.

A garden 'room' backed with high hedges
The West Wing Garden at Lytes Cary Manor
A garden 'room' backed with high hedges

After Sir Walter passed the house and estate to the National Trust, it was again let to tenants. In 1955, Jeremy and Biddy Chittenden took the lease; both worked tirelessly over the next 45 years to transform the gardens.

Look out for the magnificent herbaceous Main Border, the West garden where the bees will be working the thyme in the summer and the new white border.There are stretches of cool green lawns backed by dark yew hedges, a splashing fountain and the charm of an orchard where spring's camassias give way to late summer's waving grasses.


Today's conservation vision

No garden is static. Recent changes have included the renovation of a pond according to historic photos and the reinstatement of a romantic orchard, now planted with double-flowered white cherries, where a stroll along the meandering mown paths leads you to the perfect seat to while away an afternoon.

Woman removing child's wellies from the back of a car

Please book ahead before visiting 

We're looking forward to welcoming you back. The garden, parkland, car park, takeaway kiosk and toilets have reopened. Please book your tickets before you visit. Members can book for free, while non-members will need to pay when booking. Where space is available on weekdays, pre-booking may not always be necessary, however if you do not book we cannot guarantee admission. The manor house, chapel, shop, cafe and book barn remain closed.