Skip to content

What next for Munstead Wood?

An aerial view of a house in a woodland glade at Munstead Wood, Surrey
The house hidden in a clearing in the woodland at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © Peter Wright

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.

Why we saved Munstead Wood for the nation

In April 2023, the National Trust purchased Munstead Wood, the home of Gertrude Jekyll. It was here that Jekyll created her garden, wrote books and articles, established a nursery, bred plants and designed over four hundred gardens across the British Isles, Europe and the United States of America.

As an independent woman, working in a man’s world, Jekyll is a pioneering example to others, then and now. Drawing on her self-taught skills and determination, she established and ran a successful business and passed on her horticultural knowledge to others.

Jekyll’s garden became famous through her writing and photographs. Her approach to gardening, use of colour and choice of plants was widely admired. With so many gardeners following her example, her planting ideas have changed gardens for ever.

A decade after her garden at Munstead Wood was begun, Jekyll asked her friend, the young architect Edwin Lutyens, to design her a house. They were both deeply attached to the traditions of Surrey and drew on their knowledge of local buildings and crafts for inspiration. The house is a collaboration of creative genius and was the beginning of a style of architecture that was to spread around Surrey and beyond as Lutyens’ career progressed. He and Jekyll collaborated on many other houses and gardens, but Munstead Wood was where it all began.

What we want to achieve

  • Our ultimate goal is to enable access: physically, virtually, intellectually and emotionally, reaching beyond the site’s physical boundaries to share its magic and horticultural heart.
  • As a local treasure, we will work with others to ensure Munstead Wood brings benefit to the local community and helps to shine a spotlight on the rich Arts and Crafts pedigree of Surrey.
  • We also aim to bring contemporary relevance to the life of Gertude Jekyll, her home, work and incredible influence, as well as her successful partnership with Edwin Lutyens.

The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.

A quote by Gertrude Jekyll

Fundraising first

Having worked quickly to secure Munstead Wood, we now need to take time to understand the condition of the house and garden, identifying any conservation or restoration works needed. We are working closely with our own Curatorial and Gardens teams and external specialists to agree the best approach to caring for Munstead Wood in the long-term. Alongside gaining a rich understanding of significance, we are engaging with interested parties and partners to develop our future vision for the property.​

To undertake future work, we will need to secure support and fundraise. The National Trust used its own funds to purchase the house and garden and to undertake initial work, but additional funds will be needed to fully realise Munstead Wood’s potential.

We are now asking for your help in raising funds to ensure that Munstead Wood remains a beautiful and inspiring oasis for years to come.

If you would like to donate please follow this link.

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 need to be sustainable

Munstead Wood needs a sustainable future. We need to be able to welcome visitors and generate income to support the long-term care of the house and garden. Any public access needs to be developed sensitively, considering our neighbours, the delicate and intimate nature of the garden and the unique character of the conservation area. Whilst we continue to explore possible solutions, we will also look to undertake some necessary repairs and conservation of the buildings on site.

Climate change considerations

The garden at Munstead Wood is a thriving example of how to successfully garden in the dry sandy soil prevalent in this part of Surrey. An advocate of gardening with nature, Jekyll took inspiration from her travels across Europe and North Africa and introduced various mediterranean plants which thrived in the conditions. Our garden team now need to consider how we remain true to Jekyll’s planting principles whilst also creating a garden resilient to climate change. The Trust cares for over 200 historic gardens and parks and we will use this knowledge along with expertise from other organisations to develop a conservation management plan for the garden.

Detail of a white painted glasshouse, the gutter needs repair and some of the glass panes are damaged.
The Glasshouses showing a need for restoration work at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust/Laurence Perry

Understanding what we have

The National Trust has purchased 11 acres of the original 15 acres of Munstead Wood whilst the rest remains in private ownership having been divided in the late 1940s. Whilst many areas of the garden survive, others parts were simplified in the 1950s highlighting the fragility of gardens to loss and change. A restoration programme begun in the 1990s has reinstated parts of the garden but some modern intervantions remain such as a swimming pool and driveway.

Original trees and plants have been identified, but inevitable loss has occurred to planting schemes and tree cover through the passing of time and a changing climate. Of the over four hundred gardens Jekyll designed, only a handful remain. This amplifies the significance of Munstead Wood; its survival is something to be celebrated and prized.

Just as any new owner takes time to be well acquainted with a new home, we also want to ensure that we have the chance to get to know the site. We have started with a variety of surveys and research looking at the various character areas of the garden, understanding their current state of health and identifying the trees, plants and flowers of particular historic significance. We are also looking at the best approach to restoring the original glasshouses and researching how Jekyll fenced her boundary in preparation for installing some current protection to prevent damage by deer.

As we move through our first year and beyond, each season in the garden brings with it the opportunity for the team to meet face-to-face with some of the garden’s treasures. Long-term Head Gardener Annabel is always on hand to oversee the introductions and equip the team with any further information needed to fully appreciate each plant and garden picture. A garden management and conservation plan are being put together and a recent topographical survey has helped identify the original structure of the garden layout.

Listening to the local community

In recent months we have welcomed a wide group of people to explore the question of why Munstead matters, what we must cherish about it and how we might share it, whilst safeguarding its integrity. We were really delighted by the number of people who brightened our chilly winter workshops with their enthusiasm, passion for the place and insightful contributions to the discussions. Continuing an open dialogue with interested groups and individuals will be an important part of our development process.

Using archive material for research

A remarkable aspect of the property is the wealth of documentary evidence in photographs, planting plans, paintings and written descriptions, that capture the appearance and the spirit of Munstead Wood creating a rich archival narrative. Not only do we have Miss Jekyll’s many books, photographs and articles to draw upon but both she, and Edwin Lutyens have inspired a wealth of written material and opinion that we can consult to inform our thinking. We are grateful for the support of individual experts and organisations such as The Lutyens Trust, Surrey History Centre and Godalming Museum for their help in accessing archive material.

Books on a shelf in the book room at Munstead Wood.  The books are written by Gertrude Jekyll and include Old West Surrey, Roses for English Gardens and Colour in the Flower Garden
A selection of first editions of the 14 books written by Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood, Surrey. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Follow our progress

21 April 2023

Munstead Wood becomes part of the National Trust

The National Trust purchases Munstead Wood, the internationally important Surrey home and garden of influential plantswoman, designer and author Gertrude Jekyll.  Now in our care, after seventy-five years in private ownership (outside of the Jekyll family), the house and eleven acres of the garden are secure, but our work to open them for future generations has only just begun. Fundraising to support this work is vital for the property's long-term sustainability.

Front Door of Munstead Wood, stone walls with large oak beam supporting the roof.
The front door at Munstead Wood, Surrey | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor
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.

You might also be interested in

An aerial view of a large red tiled roof on a large house with 5 chimneys surrounded by green lawn and woodland
Article
Article

Why is Munstead Wood so important? 

Understand more about the international significance of Munstead Wood to horticulture, architecture and the Arts and Crafts movement in Surrey.

sketch of three figures in black and white, two ladies and one man sitting round a table with an Oil lamp
Article
Article

The life of Gertrude Jekyll 

A brief overview of the fascinating life of Gertrude Jekyll and her journey to Munstead Wood and worldwide acclaim.

white, purple and pink flowers in shade by a large garden wall
Article
Article

The garden at Munstead Wood 

Discover more about the personal garden of Gertrude Jekyll, her signature style of garden-making and what remains today at Munstead Wood, Surrey.

A large yellow stone house is pictured with three tall chimneys and a large tiled roof
Article
Article

The house at Munstead Wood 

We share an insight to the house at Munstead Wood, which is a collaboration of creative design genius and pivotal to the careers of both Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens.

Fallen log in the dappled sunshine, surrounded by a carpet of bluebells
Area
Area

Surrey 

An Edwardian party house, the Surrey Hills and a classic landscape garden are all waiting to be discovered in Surrey.

The entrance to the house at Polesden Lacey
Place
Place

Polesden Lacey 

A beautiful Edwardian garden with planting scheme by Graham Stewart Thomas, one of the last gardeners to visit Munstead Wood before the death of Jekyll.

near Dorking, Surrey

Fully open today
Visitors sitting on a bench at Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey with pink blossom nearby
Place
Place

Winkworth Arboretum 

On the doorstep of Munstead Wood, the National Trust's only arboretum.

Godalming, Surrey

Fully open today
Exterior view of house with two trees in the foreground and a parterre to the right
Place
Place

Hatchlands Park 

An 18th century house and parkland with later formal garden design by Jekyll.

Guildford, Surrey

Fully open today