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The house at Munstead Wood

A large yellow stone house is pictured with three tall chimneys and a large tiled roof
The south elevation of Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

It was into her chosen woodland setting, that Jekyll was to build her house, Munstead Wood, Surrey. Designed by her friend Edwin Lutyens, but very much a collaboration in terms of design and details. The young Lutyens was only at the start of his career, and his much older client was a designer herself, with some extremely clear ideas and requirements, for her long-wanted, ‘home of her own’. The core rooms of the house remain largely un-changed and before we can offer the first ever physical access to the house, as we hope, we are keen to share a little of its Arts and Crafts magic here.

House layout, materials and what remains today

The house is made of the local Bargate stone and the timbers that make its structure were all harvested from the surrounding area; some of the trees Jekyll actually remembered from her childhood. Local craftspeople were employed in the construction, and the house really is the embodiment of Arts and Crafts principles. It seems to both grow out of the land and to nestle comfortably within it.

Jekyll was very pleased with her house and said ‘it is just right'’, which was a great compliment to her architect. The house had been designed with Jekyll’s chosen lifestyle and routines in mind, and included a workshop, which takes up a large part of the ground floor, leading off the sitting room, along with a book room and a darkroom.

There is a guest suite and two further bedrooms, as well as Jekyll’s own bedroom overlooking the woods, and bedrooms for her domestic staff. She had many visitors from her wide circle of friends, but she left the entertaining to her brother Herbert and his wife Agnes who lived over the lane at Munstead House.

The house has changed very little since it was built. It is full of beautiful details like bespoke ironwork door handles, carved wooden balustrades with quirky finials, and unique fire surrounds. Some of Jekyll’s wood inlay work on doors and cupboards and overmantel designs for the fireplaces, also remain. We have no original furniture from Jekyll’s time, just the fixtures and fittings. Part of our planning for the future of Munstead Wood is to explore how we use and provide access to the house going forward.

black and white sketch of one side of a house with a large pitched roof, two chimneys and an arched doorway with sunray brick design.
Edwin Lutyens design for the east elevation of Munstead Wood, Surrey | © RIBA Collections

It is just right, and to see and know that it is right, is a daily reward and a never-ending source of satisfaction.

A quote by Gertrude Jekyll
View of an empty sitting room with wooden beams crossing the ceiling and a fireplace and staircase in the background at Munstead Wood, Surrey
A view of the Sitting Room at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Sitting Room

This is a generous room which features a wide hooded stone-built fireplace. There are broad shallow stairs, with sturdy oak bannisters, leading directly off it, first to the book room landing and entrance and then a middle landing with a very generous window. The room also includes a direct door out to the south terrace which is planted with scented roses, rosemary and lavender, which perfume the air on summer evenings.


Jekyll wrote that from childhood she had always felt ‘at home’ in a workshop and it was clear she must have one in her own purpose-built home at Munstead Wood. The workshop is accessed by a Jekyll carved and inlaid door, which still survives today and clearly shows the importance of the space to her. Inside it provides a large well-lit space, with sunken shelved alcoves around the fireplace to display, as well as store her materials, tools and ceramic treasures.

A large carpentry bench, writing table and drawered storage were also once a feature of the room. This is where she worked on woodcarving, gilding, inlay, shell pictures, silver repoussé and gesso. This was also the hub of her business activities and where she did her writing and garden designs.

Jekyll collected a huge array of keepsakes from her many travels abroad and within Britain. These treasures ranged from natural shells, birds’ eggs and feathers to bronze coins, venetian glass, and church embroideries. To house these riches safely from the ‘fatal flicks of the household duster’ and to give the opportunity for a daily glimpse of her most favoured things, Lutyens designed a large, glazed display cabinet to be a feature of her long gallery.

The gallery is about ten feet wide, with beautiful oak trusses and is cantilevered out for half its width with its northern windows overlooking the most formal part of the garden. Further oak panelled cupboards and drawers were once home to a wide collection of cottons, silks and linens also collected by Jekyll on her travels.

Looking along the first floor gallery at Munstead Wood.  The left wall has a long line of windows, the right is lined with oak cupboards.  The ceiling is crossed by large oak beams and a chandelier hangs in the middle.
The Gallery at Munstead Wood, Surrey. Designed by Edwin Lutyens. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

A good example of how English oak should be used in an honest building, with beauty of proportion and simplicity of effect

A quote by Gertrude Jekyll


Through an arched entrance, is a small but beautifully proportioned room of bookshelves, with an inlaid corner cupboard and once home to Jekyll’s collection of gardening books, musical scores and literature. Jekyll said this room gave a ‘precious feeling of repose’ which helped her to study. There is an enticing view out to the Woodland Garden, which invites the imagination to take over as the edge of the paths disappear from sight.

This room and perhaps her workshop, were the places where her ideas and writing really took flight. She wrote 14 books (one a year from 1899) and over a thousand articles right up until her death in 1932 and this is how her ideas spread to both a national and international audience.

An interior of a small room with wooden shelve with dried flowers hanging from them and an open wooden door to outside.
The Flower Shop at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust/Josie Cook

Flower Shop

Next to her workshop – and with a door opening directly onto her garden – is Jekyll's flower shop. Not a shop for selling things, but the floral equivalent of the workshop. Here she would have brought in the flowers and foliage she’d cut in the garden, soaked the stems overnight if needed, and arranged in a selection of vases and bowls for display in the house.

Jekyll had some very particular rules for flower arranging, which she shared in her book Flower Decoration for the House, published in 1907. She ensured that flowers co-ordinated with the interior decoration of her rooms, noting flowers that worked in contrast and colours that should be avoided, and even advising on colours that worked best under electric lighting.

She also designed her own vases which she commissioned a glassmaker to create for her, as she could find nothing quite right for her purposes. These were available to buy commercially, and known as ‘Munstead glasses’.


In 1885, almost a decade before she was instructing Lutyens as to her wishes for her home, Jekyll started taking photographs which she described as ’to see pictures for oneself, not merely to see objects’. To accommodate this further artistic endeavour, he created a darkroom for her in the cellar, which allowed just sufficient light through a low arched window to allow her to work and shutters to give blackout conditions to develop her glass photographic plates.

Jekyll's photographs became integral to her sharing her knowledge and ideas through her publishing and were particularly relevant when showcasing both garden and flower arranging designs. The room still survives with some of its original fittings and, although others were experimenting with photography at the end of the nineteenth century, she was one of the first women to take photographs specifically for publication.

Stone steps lead to a shady courtyard garden laid out in a geometric style with round box spheres a square pond and surrounded by an old house on three sides.
The North Court Garden at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © Peter Wright

North Court and Tank Garden

At the north side of the house, with steps and paths laid out by Lutyens at the same time as the house was built, is the North Court. This somewhat formal layout of steps and paths, often using angles and curves to create geometrically interesting shapes, was typical of the designs Lutyens went on to produce for his many clients.

In their garden collaborations, Jekyll was responsible for planting the beds around, adding the informality of her planting style to the formality of Lutyens’ geometry. This area has a strongly geometric led design with a semi-circle of ripple marked stone, evergreen borders, and a Clematis Montana swagged across the bottom of the gallery. Contrasting stone circles, square troughs and round box hedging complete the playful approach.

The tank pond is next to the North Court steps and this area has changed very little. There is a lion’s head mask on the side of the tank, which was designed by Jekyll’s friend, the artist George Leslie, and added some time after the tank was first built. We'd like to restore the feature to working order, so that water flows again from the lion’s mouth, replacing the current fountain that was never Jekyll’s intention for this pond.

Design details of Munstead Wood

Munstead Wood contains many delightful design details which give the house its unique character.

Design details of Munstead Wood

Munstead Wood contains many delightful design details which give the house its unique character such as bespoke ironwork door handles, carved wooden balustrades with quirky finials, and unique fire surrounds.

Grid of 14 images
A black decorative latch on an oak door
A church-style interior door latch at Munstead Wood, Surrey | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
Blue and white hand painted tiles at Munstead Wood, Surrey
The original tiles forming the splashback for a sink in the Flower Shop, Munstead Wood, Surrey | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
White bone figures of two dogs and an urn of fruits are inlayed in an oak cupboard door. Munstead Wood Surrey
Jekyll's own inlaid work on a cupboard door in the Sitting Room at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
A metal key in a door lock.  The key is handmade in the design of a flower or church window.  Munstead Wood, Surrey.
Jekyll had keys handmade for the cupboards along The Gallery at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
Detail view of the dark room window at Munstead Wood.  The oak frame of the window is set in a stone wall, surrounded by climbing roses.
The Darkroom window at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Laurence Perry
A wooden floor leads to a stone fireplace carved into an arch above wooden logs.  A corridor leads to the right towards an open door and a staircase.  Munstead Wood, Surrey
The Entrance Hall fireplace at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
IN the background an oak door is inlayed with fine white bone inlay with mother of pearl.  In the foreground is the carved post of a staircase
The Workshop door and a carved staircase post at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
Decorative panel above the fireplace in the dressing room at Munstead Wood, Surrey.  Made by Gertrude Jekyll, two cats stand either side of a tree, painted green on a white background.  The date of the house, 1896, is carved above.
Jekyll's own design for a gesso panel above the fireplace in the Dressing Room at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
A blue and white decorative flower pattern made from shells is featured part of an oak door design
Jekyll design on the Workshop door at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
A decorative black iron door hinge is shown close up on an oak door
A decorative iron hinge design at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
A black ornate ironwork window latch is shown.
Lutyens ornate window latches at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
carved arched wooden detail peg studs on a bedroom shelving unit
Arts and Crafts design for bedroom storage at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
A white floral design is shown on an oak cupboard
Jekyll design for an inlaid cupboard at Munstead Wood, Surrey | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
A large round entrance way with a sundial brick design at the top shows a route through to a corridor and garden.
The Main Porch designed by Lutyens at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust/Laurence Perry
Detail view of an inscription in a stone wall at Munstead Wood.  The inscription reads "Built by Thomas Underwood for Gertrude Jekyll. Edwin L. Lutyens Architect. 1896"
The inscription in the North Court, Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

The building of the house was done in the happiest way possible, a perfect understanding existing between the architect, the builder and the proprietor.

A quote by Gertrude Jekyll
A view of the main flower border at Munstead Wood. Red and yellow flowers grow in front of climbing plants on a stone wall, overshadowed by trees in the background

Donate to Munstead Wood

Please consider making a donation today, to support our work at Gertrude Jekyll's Munstead Wood, where gardening changed for ever.

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What next for Munstead Wood? 

Munstead Wood has been a private residence for over 75 years which hosted a handful of small garden tours each year. The house is a collaboration of creative genius which is key to the story of Surrey Arts and Crafts and the extraordinary careers of both Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens. We are exploring how best to carve a future for this remarkable place, that safeguards its unique character, shares its powerful stories and enables others to see the beauty that lies beyond the garden wall. Find out what has happened in our first year here.