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New Place was designed and built in 1906 by E L Lutyens for Mrs A S Franklyn. It was specifically designed to contain internal timber and plasterwork from J Langton's 17th-century house in Bristol. In 1779 the Langton mansion was converted into a tobacco factory. Fourteen years later the business became known as George Franklyn & Company - (Tobacco Manufacturers).

In 1905 the Bristol tobacco company moved to new premises. The old building with its ornate interior was due for demolition. It was most likely this that prompted Mrs Franklyn, who had inherited the factory on the death of her husband in 1884, to build a new house close to her own property at Shedfield to house the Langton interior. The Franklyns had moved to Shedfield in 1875. In 1908 Mrs Franklyn gave the house to her son as a wedding present.

The house is symmetrical and constructed of fine red brick. Lutyens consulted Gertrude Jekyll about the layout of the garden, and notes she made imply that she may have also visited. Jane Brown, garden historian, has included in her book ‘The Gardens of a Golden Afternoon' a plan of the garden, based on Lutyens' sketches of the layout of the garden and on correspondence between Lutyens and Jeykll.

The plan shows a formal garden layout with a terrace immediately in front of the ornate reception rooms on the main axis of the house facing south-west, with proposed summerhouses at both ends of the terrace and steps descending to a lower level. It was proposed that the area immediately below the terrace should be formal; with paths radiating from another terraced area, giving views to an orchard, and a ‘wilderness of low things'. A kitchen garden, orchard, nut alley, entrance court and drive flanked the other sides of the house. Jane Brown writes ‘the garden at New Place has been considerably altered, but the bones of these recommendations can be traced'.

However, according to Thomas Mawson's autobiography, he was asked to advise on the layout of the garden by Mrs Franklyn in 1907. Mawson felt that Lutyens was extremely capable of providing a layout of the garden, but Mrs Franklyn insisted that they wanted him to do it. It was agreed that Mawson would contact Lutyens before he accepted the commission. At their meeting Mawson stated that ‘in the kindest way possible he (Lutyens) assured me that as he was not allowed to design the garden, there was no one he would rather co-operate with than me'. Mawson was never happy with his design. He felt that he was endeavouring to interpret how to complement the Lutyens style, rather than do his own thing.

The Franklyn family occupied the house and grounds until 1956. The property was sold and became a school. Since 1978 it has been a conference centre.

Site timeline

1956: New Place was converted from a private residence into a school.

1978: New Place was converted from a school into a conference centre.

People associated with this site

Advisor: Gertrude Jekyll (born 29/11/1843 died 08/12/1932)

Designer: Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (born 29/03/1869 died 01/01/1944)

Designer: Thomas Hayton Mawson (born 05/05/1861 died 14/11/1933)

Features

gate piers

The iron gates are supported by brick piers.

garden terrace

Feature created: 1906

The terrace adjacent to the house has spaces at either end for the two summerhouses as proposed by Lutyens but never built.

lawn

Feature created: 1906

kitchen garden

Feature created: 1906

The areas to the east of the house proposed by Lutyens for a kitchen garden and orchard have now been developed for accommodation and car parking.

belt

Feature created: 1906

Much of the original tree belt still remains and contributes to the special landscape character of the site.

ironwork

Feature created: 1906

The gravelled fore court on the south side is approached through a pair of tall wrought iron gates.