The garden at Nuffield Place

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Nuffield Place was once home to one of the richest men of the 20th century. But, nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside, this comfortable, early 20th century house was where Lord Nuffield, William Morris, lived with his wife Lady Nuffield for 30 years. William was the founder of Morris Motor Cars and one of Britain’s greatest philanthropists and influencers of the 20th century.

As an Arts and Crafts house, the garden was designed in conjunction with the house in 1914, laid out by Oswald Partridge Milne. The Nuffield’s made minor changes to reflect current fashions, rather than any major re-modelling. 


A garden to enjoy


The four-acre garden, much like the house, isn’t extravagant. It was created for the personal enjoyment of the Nuffields who both loved to spend time outdoors.

In particular, it was a favourite spot of Lady Nuffield who took on the role of ‘gardener-in-chief’ working alongside three full-time gardeners.

Take your time in the gardens

Take your time to look around all the areas of the garden. Go on a short walk through the woods and meadow, which offer a great contrast to the gardens that are nearer the house.

Opposite the garage, where Lady Nuffield’s car is stored, hidden behind a conifer tree, is a little seating area overlooking the meadow. A perfect sun trap!

North Garden

Wander around the paths lining criss-crossing through a combination of lawn and mixed beds, which are still in the original, irregular bed shapes with brick edges.

The shrub borders in this area of the garden were laid out in their current state in the 1960s, and are slowly being renovated to restore the views over to the meadow.

The lawns

Enjoy three different lawns at Nuffield Place. The Red Oak Lawn is directly behind the tearoom, and is so called because of the large American Red Oak that is planted on it. Running across this lawn is also the reinstated Purple Plum avenue, bearing lovely blossom in spring and deep purple leaves until late autumn.

The avenue at Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire
View down the tree avenue of a gardener mowing the lawn
The avenue at Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire

Lying to the west of the house is the most informal grassed area known as the pond lawn. It currently contains a small amount of Lord Nuffield’s water garden; a feature that used to flow across the lawn. 

Revival

Today, our garden team are using old photos from the Morris family archives to help them restore the gardens to how they would have looked in the mid-1950s.

Nuffield Place garden, Oxfordshire
Nuffield Place garden with rockery
Nuffield Place garden, Oxfordshire

Here are some of the changes they’ve made so far:

  • The rock garden, one of Lady Nuffield’s most loved areas, had become overgrown. The team removed all the plants and top soil then left the area for a year to allow the invasive weeds to clear. They’ve now filled the rock garden with a variety of alpines and rock plants.
  • The Nuffields planted an avenue of purple-plum that ran across the Red Oak Lawn as part of a circular estate walk. Over the years a number of these trees were lost and the remaining few removed. In 2015, the team replanted the avenue with young trees.
  • The pergola over the paved Rose Walk was in a poor state so the team dismantled it. They've now lovingly rebuilt a new pergola and replanted the roses.
  • In the beech woodland, the team has cleared laurel and holly which was preventing the natural regeneration of the beech trees.

Going wild

Marbled white in the wildflower meadow
A marbled white butterfly in the wildflower meadow at Nuffield Place, where populations have soared
Marbled white in the wildflower meadow

The team team have also been restoring the natural meadow for the benefit of the wildflower and butterfly populations.

To do this, they introduced sheep grazing in 2015 and paths have been mown to discourage visitors taking alternative routes through the natural meadow.

In summer, the meadow comes alive with grasshoppers and the populations of meadow brown, ringlet, marbled white and common blue butterflies have soared.

Rejuvenation works 

We've completed some major rejuventation works across the site. We’ve updated our effluent disposal systems as well as some other bits and bobs across the property to make sure that you can have an even better day out at Nuffield Place.

We’ve updated waste systems to move away from septic tank disposal and to move our waste into the Thames Valley sewage treatment plant. This is a great step to ensure Nuffield Place is an environmentally sustainable site for many years to come.

Have a look at what we're doing, as we close the tennis lawn for these vital works
Have a look at what we're doing, as we close the tennis lawn for these vital works
Have a look at what we're doing, as we close the tennis lawn for these vital works

To complete this work, we worked largely on the Tennis lawn. The work has left a dip in the lawn which we have been refilling, and we will soon be reseeding the grass. There will be no access to the tennis lawn during this period, but we encourage you to have a look at the progress of these vital works. 

 

It is with the continued support of National Trust members and visitors that we are able to place such investment at Nuffield Place, ensuring visitors are able to enjoy the fruits of Lord and Lady Nuffield’s hard work for many years to come. Every piece of Morris memorabilia bought in the shop helps us keep Nuffield Place special for ever, for everyone.