Barton St Mary 6792

East Grinstead, England, West Sussex, Mid Sussex

Brief Description

The gardens were designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1907. Features include a drive, gatehouses, avenues of fruit trees, formal kitchen garden, terraces and informally-planted lawns. Much of the hard landscaping remains intact, but unfortunately the herbaceous borders did not survive.

History

The house dates from 1906 and was designed by Edwin Lutyens for the shipping magnate, Sir G. Munro Miller. The gardens were designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1907.

Detailed Description

Barton St. Mary is situated on the southern outskirts of East Grinstead, Sussex. The house is set on a north-east/south-west axis in the elevated north-eastern portion of the 20-acre site, an area smaller than that which Gertrude Jekyll had originally planned. The house's unusual off-centre positioning within the site was due probably to the railway line running close to the estate's south-west boundary as well to take advantage of the sweeping views from the higher northern ground across to the Sussex Weald. This siting, however, has brought about the curiosity of having the majority of garden features laid to the front of the house instead of to the rear.

Lutyens marked the property's entrance drive with a pair of imposing two-storey gatehouses. Jekyll then lined the drive to the house with successive bold plantings of shrubs - laurel, broom, forsythia and weigela, followed by groups of evergreen oaks. Unfortunately, some of these trees were blown down in the great storm of 1987.

The drive culminated in a gravelled forecourt bounded by dry retaining walls of local stone planted with outcrops of ferns, pinks and aubrieta before leading on to a sunken courtyard situated at the front of the house. On the northern axis from this point Jekyll planted an avenue of triple rows of fruit trees - apples, pears, medlars, quinces and crabs. These, too, suffered in the storm of 1987 but since have been replanted. Adjacent to the avenue she created a pair of long, herbaceous borders. Regretfully, planting plans for these do not appear to have survived.

Next to the borders came a formal kitchen garden enclosed by yew hedges and containing symmetrical vegetable plots edged with deep flower beds and espaliers. Gravel paths led to its central focal point: an arbour with stone columns linked by iron hoops and clad with roses. It has been suggested that there was an existing walled kitchen garden here, pre-dating Barton St. Mary, which Gertrude Jekyll incorporated into her plans. However, researchers and previous owners of the house could find no evidence for this supposition. Greenhouses, a utility area and a cutting area occupied the remaining ground towards the northern boundary.

To the west of the house a broad level lawn fringed by trees was laid while southwards Jekyll created a raised terrace garden with two levels of flower beds all bordered with Stachys lanata. The terraces have dry stone retaining walls clad with roses. At some time, central steps have been added to these terraces while the borders have been made narrower by extensions to the grass areas. To complete her plan, Jekyll designed informally planted lawns which progressed from the terraces to a swathe of mixed planting of trees and shrubs - holly, amelanchier, azalea, roses and spruce. These were intervened with mown paths and named the ‘Wilderness'.

Despite different ownerships, Barton St. Mary's hard landscaping appears to have remained relatively unchanged but the herbaceous planting has disappeared completely. At different times flower beds have been reshaped and replanted as well as new features introduced. For example, an ornamental pool has been added to the forecourt and yew tree topiary introduced across the lawns. A geometrical pattern of gravel paths has been laid on the level lawn together with a central fish pond. On the southern terraces central steps have been built, possibly to give easier access to the lawns below.

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The house dates from 1906 and was designed by Edwin Lutyens. Its whitewashed and tile-hung walls, deep gables and tall chimneys are typical of Lutyens? English vernacular style.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Planting
  • Description: Jekyll lined the drive to the house with successive bold plantings of shrubs - laurel, broom, forsythia and weigela, followed by groups of evergreen oaks. Unfortunately, some of these trees were blown down in the great storm of 1987.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Gatehouse
  • Description: Lutyens marked the property?s entrance drive with a pair of imposing two-storey gatehouses.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Courtyard
  • Description: The drive culminated in a gravelled forecourt bounded by dry retaining walls of local stone planted with outcrops of ferns, pinks and aubrieta before leading on to a sunken courtyard situated at the front of the house.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Avenue
  • Description: Jekyll planted an avenue of triple rows of fruit trees - apples, pears, medlars, quinces and crabs. These suffered in the storm of 1987 but since have been replanted.
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: There was a formal kitchen garden enclosed by yew hedges and containing symmetrical vegetable plots edged with deep flower beds and espaliers.
  • Arbour
  • Description: The central focal point of the kitchen garden was an arbour with stone columns linked by iron hoops and clad with roses.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Greenhouse
  • Earliest Date:
  • Lawn
  • Description: To the west of the house a broad level lawn fringed by trees was laid.
  • Terrace
  • Description: Jekyll designed a raised terrace garden with two levels of flower beds all bordered with Stachys lanata. The terraces have dry stone retaining walls clad with roses.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Steps
  • Description: At some time, central steps have been added to the terraces.
  • Pool
  • Description: An ornamental pool has been added to the forecourt
  • Topiary
  • Description: Yew tree topiary has been introduced across the lawns.
  • Path
  • Description: A geometrical pattern of gravel paths has been laid on the level lawn.
Fishpond
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • East Grinstead
History

Detailed History

The house dates from 1906 and was designed by Edwin Lutyens for the shipping magnate, Sir G. Munro Miller*. Its whitewashed and tile-hung walls, deep gables and tall chimneys are typical of Lutyens' English vernacular style. The gardens were designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1907.

Its later changes of ownership prior to 1939 are uncertain, but it is recorded that both the house and gardens suffered from a period of neglect during World War 2 when it was used as a school. After the war it was bought by Matilda Marks of the retailing family. Miss Marks later married Terence Kennedy and together they made a number of changes to both the interior and exterior of the house. Subsequently the house has passed through further owners' hands.

Period

  • Early 20th Century (1901-1932)
Associated People

People associated to Barton St Mary

References

Contributors

  • Sussex Gardens Trust