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History of the garden at Tyntesfield

The Orangery in the Kitchen Garden at Tyntesfield, Bristol
The Orangery at Tyntesfield, Bristol | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Discover more about the history of the Rose Garden and The Orangery. Find out how these places of retreat and tranquillity complement the design of the main house and learn more about their hidden symbolism.

The Orangery

Antony Gibbs inherited Tyntesfield from his parents, William and Blanche Gibbs, in 1887. Antony wanted to make his own mark on the impressive Victorian gothic estate they had created.

Creating the Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden was the ideal space for Antony to try out a new design. It was a good distance from the main house, and discretely enclosed by walls and yew hedges.

A follower of fashion

Antony created a flamboyant Neo-classical orangery in the very latest style. The genius behind the scheme was an emerging architect called Walter Cave (1863-1939).

Inspired by traditional designs

Cave’s pedimented brick and stone structure reflects the grand buildings of the English Baroque. Cave used a traditional style inspired by orangeries, sundials and statuary of older formal gardens of the 1600s and 1700s.

A transformation

Cave‘s scheme transformed the productive Kitchen Garden into an entertainment space. The building sits at the top of a symmetrically aligned cut-flower garden. The well-placed sundial and stone seats provided opportunity to rest and enjoy the atmosphere away from the bustle of the main house.

The Rose Garden at Tyntesfield, Bristol
The Rose Garden at Tyntesfield, Bristol | © National Trust Images/Peter Hall

The Rose Garden

Tucked away at the west side of the main house, Tyntesfield’s Rose Garden is a tranquil retreat. It was created by William and Blanche Gibbs, the founders of Tyntesfield, and dates to the Gothic remodelling of the house in the 1860s.

A tiered grandstand

The Rose Garden is built on a layered terrace much like a tiered grandstand. It is surrounded by leafy shrubbery and edged by tumbling rocks. The front is more formal with a retaining wall topped by a finely carved stone balustrade of pierced Gothic panels.

A central flight of stone steps is flanked by a pair of stone lions bearing shields. The Gothic-style heraldry adds formality to this special place.

Gothic parterres

The path leads on through a metal-framed rose arbour that forms the spine of the garden. On either side, parterres are planted in jewel-like colours, framed with box-edging and gravel in a symmetrical Gothic flower design.

Rustic gazebos

A pair of rustic timber-framed gazebos, possibly by the architect John Norton, stand at the corners of the terrace. These picturesque octagonal buildings are fitted with benches. The glass sides and open fronts give uninterrupted views of the surrounding garden.

Symbolism of the pomegranate

The gazebo walls are hung with green and burgundy Minton tiles decorated with pomegranates. The tiles are diagonally arranged to create a chequerboard effect.

The Gibbs were devout Christians so the choice of the pomegranate tiles may be significant. The pomegranate motif is often found in Christian religious decoration: its seeds represent everlasting life.

Visitors in the Rose Garden at Tyntesfield, Bristol
Visitors in the Rose Garden at Tyntesfield, Bristol | © National Trust Images/Alana Wright

A cascade of roses

In the summer pink American pillar roses grow in a cascade from the arbour. This heritage variety dates from the mid-19th century. The floral aisle frames the view of the lion-masked urn leading up to the top terrace.

Far-reaching views

The upper level forms a terrace built to enjoy the far-reaching views of the Mendip hills and Bristol Channel beyond. At its pinnacle on the hillside a protective yew hedge forms an apse end to the space. Beyond is the Chaplain’s House and the wilder wooded combe where native ferns inhabit the shade.

The grand outside of Tyntesfield with a child walking towards it

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