An intimate Arts and Crafts garden
The garden at Snowshill Manor was designed by Charles Wade and his friend, and prominent Arts and Crafts architect, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott.
Charles Wade purchased Snowshill in 1919. When he arrived, he found the area around the manor house was little more than a muddy farmyard. Despite its appearance Wade noted he could see that ‘here indeed was a happy chance to create a garden of interest.’
Wade had developed his ideas for a garden long before he came to Snowshill. In his personal notebooks and an unpublished manuscript, elements that were later installed here at Snowshill are evident. Wade used his own skills as an artist and architect to introduce his vision and ideas for a garden in his early manuscript, Country Cottage and its Garden. The notebook also contains a bibliography of Wade’s research and influences. This included Arts and Crafts architects Baillie Scott and Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Baillie Scott and the Arts and Crafts movement
Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott was a distinguished Arts & Crafts architect. Charles Wade first met Baillie Scott whilst working on Hampstead Garden Suburb between 1907 and 1911.
In spring of 1920 Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott designed the initial plan for the garden. He sent it to Wade, together with a letter explaining his design. With the help of a local builder, William Hodge, Wade then set about transforming the former farmyard into an Arts and Crafts garden.
The Arts and Crafts Movement was a reaction to Victorian mass industrialisation. It wished to revive traditional craftsmanship and restore simplicity and honesty to design, including that of the garden. The garden became an extension of the house it surrounded. An Arts and Crafts garden would include garden rooms, topiary and overflowing borders. Terraces and walkways provided structure. These features were included by Baillie Scott in his plan for Snowshill. The design, and subsequent work, included garden rooms, walkways and pond. At Baillie Scott’s suggestion Wade also put a Venetian wellhead he had collected into Well Court: ‘Should like to get your stone cistern from the workshop and put it in the middle of the lower garden.’
The garden at Snowshill is certainly an extension of the house with mystery at its heart. ‘Mystery is most valuable in design: never show all there is at once’ Wade wrote in one notebook. He planned ‘enticing vistas with a hint of something beyond.’
Initial work in the garden focussed on the hard landscaping. The creation of terraces, stone walls, sunken pool and paths follow Baillie Scott’s basic design. The Dovecote and cow byres were also repaired with one of the cow byres becoming Wade’s outdoor dining room for entertaining his friends. Work was completed in 1922. Wade then began to fill in the garden with planting and further artistic features
J.B Priestly described the valley in which Snowshill sits as ‘one of the those green little valleys that at once makes you feel oddly remote...clean out of this world.’ It is the perfect place to explore on a spring walk which takes in the beauty of this place and gives remarkable views of Snowshill Manor and Garden.