The gardens and woodland at Stoneywell

Azaleas outside the front of the cottage at Stoneywell

With four acres of garden and eleven acres of woodland, Stoneywell has provided the backdrop for childhood games of mischief and adventure for generations, from its first inhabitants at the turn of the 20th century to its visitors today.

Stoneywell, with its gardens and woodland, have provided joy, excitement and delight for over a century. After construction of the cottage was completed in 1899, Stoneywell became a wonderful place for children staying here during the school holidays, where the only 'rule' was to return to the house as soon as the outside bell was rung. Even during the Second World War children's laughter could still be heard across the meadow grass and into the woods, when a local family leased Stoneywell after their Leicester home was bombed.

For Brian Lodge, a young boy at the time, living at Stoneywell was magical. To this day, he remembers how the daffodils bloomed in spring and how beautiful the bluebells looked in the far corners of the woods. He notes that the grass tracks were scarcely used, winding as they do around the trees and heather; today, though, the old 'sheep track' has been covered with stones, since it leads visitors to perhaps the most iconic view of the cottage at Stoneywell.

A game of bowls on Stoneywell's tennis court
A game of bowls in progress on the grass

Some of Brian's fondest memories are of the times spent with George Richardson, Stoneywell's gardener. Alongside Sydney Gimson's beloved tennis court - which was made by blasting the rock and levelling the area between 1903 and 1905 - the two built a pooh trap. Nowadays, although Brian's mischievous traps have vanished, the area is still a great place for fun and games, including quoits, skilltes and noughts and crosses.

" George was somewhat deaf but we were great pals - which was just as well, as we dug a deep pooh trap at the far end of the tennis court in which he disappeared with his wheelbarrow. No mention was ever made to my parents. We also came up behind him when he was digging in the walled garden and slipped a three-foot grass snake between his legs. Boys will be boys!"
- Brian Lodge, whose parents leased Stoneywell 1940-1946

At the highest point of the garden sits a stone fort that Brian can recall exploring when he was a boy. The fort was built by Basil Gimson - Sydneys' son - several years before Brian moved into the house, and still stands today. It provides spectacular views of the city of Leicester and the surrounding countryside including Bradgate Park with its tower and memorial. Moreover, it's a great place of discovery and excitement for adults and children alike!

Just like the Gimsons and the Lodges, families today still venture to Stoneywell to appreciate its grounds, explore the twist and turns of the woodland paths and discover its many surprises along the way, from a secluded orchard and tall tree swing to a silver dragonfly and a hand-carved lizard. Many describe the scenery as both refreshing and beautiful, as if it has been untouched by time.