Chevening Park 780

Sevenoaks, England, Kent, Sevenoaks

Brief Description

Chevening Park has gardens of 16 hectares, pleasure grounds and a park of 280 hectares surrounding a country house. The house was remodelled in the early and late 18th century and extended during the first half of the 19th century. The house stands in a fine wooded park. In the garden, features of an earlier design combine with those of this century. The landscape in this area below the North Downs scarp is of high quality and an ambitious restoration programme is now underway.

History

The present Chevening House was built, reputedly to designs by Inigo Jones in about 1620 for Richard Lennard, thirteenth Lord Dacre, on the site of an earlier building. The house and gardens were re-modelled after 1718. Furtehr changes were made from the 1770s onwards. The fourth Earl, Philip, succeeded in 1816 by which time the park had become neglected. A keen gardener and forester, he spent thirty-seven years planting at Chevening and was responsible for the basic layout of the present gardens and surrounding park.

Terrain

The House stands close to the centre of the eastern boundary, overlooking the Darent valley, on the south face of the North Downs.

Detailed Description

From the north-west facade there is a grand vista towards the North Downs, terminating in a visual key hole cut through the woodland which is still maintained.

Much was devastated by the storm on October 16th 1987. A new double avenue of 100 lime trees has been planted on the northern front. A walled garden to the west of the house has unique double hexagon brick walls 10 feet high, in reasonable condition but now used as a vegetable garden. The glasshouses have been demolished.

The Parterre just west of the house is of box in-filled with golden Lonicera nitida, Senecio greyii, cotton lavender and sage. A yew maze four feet high is in good shape. South of the house are two double avenues of fastigate hornbeam. Yew, privet and rhododendron border the long lake.

East of the lake are more scattered tree groups and a stream with a cascade. A new avenue of lime trees has been planted (1989) in this area. A rustic wooden bridge of the last century has been demolished.

To the west side of the lake are scattered lofty mature limes and sycamores. The imprint of the old early-17th century design is now being established with hornbeams (‘Cuarinilles') as part of the restoration programme. These were planted in 1979 (see photos and engraving in the County Planning Department's reference material). Also here are Roman tombstones in a rustic thatched canopy presented to General James Stanhope (1st Earl) by the municipality of Tarragona, (about 1708). Beyond this a deep curving ha-ha separates the grounds from the park beyond.

Mature cedars are west of the house with a group of fine mature 30 metre limes, underplanted with spring bulbs. The service buildings are clustered near the main house. The church (1262) in the village contains Stanhope Lennard and Cranmer memorials.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

Gardens, pleasure grounds, and a park surrounding a 17th-century country house, first remodelled in the early 18th century, then reworked in the 1770s and added to during the first half of the 19th century.

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

Chevening is situated about 4 kilometres to the north-west of Sevenoaks, in a rural location on the west side of the estate village of Chevening. The roughly 176 hectare park is bounded to the south and west by Ovenden Road, to the east by a minor country road through Chevening village, and to the north by farmland. The House stands close to the centre of the eastern boundary, overlooking the Darent valley, on the south face of the North Downs.

REFERENCES Used by English Heritage

J Harris, The History of Kent (1719), p 74

J Kip, Supplement de Nouveau theatre de la Grande Bretagne (1728), plate 1

T Badeslade, Thirty six different views of noblemen and gentlemen's seats in the county of Kent (1750s), plate 8

R Ackerman, Repository 12, (1828), plate 31

G Virtue, Picturesque beauties of Great Britain: Kent (1829), p 103

W W J Gendall, Views 1, (1830), p 123

W H Ireland, History of Kent 4, (1830), p 579

Gardeners' Chronicle, ii (1880), pp 390-1

M Macartney, English houses and gardens (1908), plate 18

Country Life, 47 (17 April 1920), pp 512-20; (24 April 1920), pp 586-93; 143 (18 January 1968), pp 102-4; 166 (20 September 1979), pp 850-2

R Dutton, TheEnglish Garden (1937), plate 52

M Binney and A Hills, Elysian Gardens (1979), p 19

Chevening, Historical Appraisal, (Elizabeth Banks Associates 1988) [copy on EH file]

Chevening, guidebook, (no date)

Maps

F Hull, Catalogue of estate maps 1590-1840 (1973), p 85 (Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone)

R Browne, Survey of the Chevening estate, 1679 (Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone)

Chevening Estate survey, around 1720 (Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone)

Michell, Survey of the Chevening estate, 1747 (Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone)

W Woodward, Survey of the Chevening estate, 1775 (Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone)

Description rewritten: March 2001

Amended: May 2001; February 2004

Edited: November 2003

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: An impressive house of mainly 17th century construction, added to in the early-18th century when the Starthopes acquired Chevening. The house was remodelled again in the late-18th century.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Tree Avenue
  • Description: A new double avenue of 100 lime trees has been planted on the northern front.
  • Parterre
  • Description: The Parterre just west of the house is of box in-filled with golden Lonicera nitida, Senecio greyii, cotton lavender and sage.
  • Maze
  • Description: There is a yew maze four feet high.
  • Tree Avenue
  • Description: South of the house are two double avenues of fastigate hornbeam.
  • Tree Clump
  • Description: The imprint of the old early-17th century design is now being established with hornbeams (`Cuarinilles?) as part of the restoration programme.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Tree Clump
  • Description: Mature cedars are west of the house with a group of fine mature 30 metre limes.
Lake, Cascade, Stream, Ha-ha
Access & Directions

Directions

The site is 4 miles north-west of Sevenoaks in the hamlet of Chevening.
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Chevening
History

Detailed History

The Earl Stanhope laid out the gardens in the French manner in the early 18th century. A Kip engraving of 1719 shows the formal, stylised design, (see reference material in County Planning Department). According to Mrs E Banks, 'There is no doubt that the garden was created as illustrated in the engraving because there is an accurate estate map circa 1720 and a further map dated 1747 which show the maturing of the complicated design'.

Later in the century tree planting was continued with woodland belts and roundels. A lake was superimposed over the formal canal and the earlier shape was revealed recently when drainage of the lake took place as part of the restoration programme.

In the early 19th century Phillip, 4th Earl of Stanhope, spent 37 years planting and restoring the neglected gardens. He made an Italian garden, a maze and planted many trees and shrubs. Lists of plants ordered still survive and his memorandum on forestry showed a complete understanding of the subject (Mrs E Banks).

He dismissed the possibilities of restoring the canal due to the high costs involved. The same problem still exists today. His enthusiasm for the garden prompted him to open it regularly to visitors. His son planted the parterre in the mid-19th century.

The Chevening Trustees took over the management of the estate in 1967 on the 7th Earl Stanhope's death, and an ambitious programme of restoration has been undertaken starting with the house, and now the grounds, the latter under the direction of Mrs E Banks. Her excellent study of Chevening and her case for restoration is a valuable document (see reference).

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

The present Chevening House was built, reputedly to designs by Inigo Jones (1573-1652), in about 1620 for Richard Lennard, thirteenth Lord Dacre, on the site of an earlier building. Following the death of Thomas, fifteenth Lord Dacre and Earl of Sussex in 1717, the estate was sold to General James Stanhope (1673-1721), who was created Earl Stanhope in 1718. Stanhope added wings and two pavilions to the house and remodelled the gardens. An engraving by Badeslade, published in 1719 (Harris), shows a complex set of formal gardens south of the house. Nicholas Dubois, Thomas Archer, and Thomas Fort are all known to have worked on the house and each could have been involved in the gardens. Philip, second Earl Stanhope (1714-86) inherited the estate while still a minor. From 1763 to 1773 he lived in Switzerland and during this period Chevening was let to his cousin, William Pitt, first Earl Chatham. A letter exists from Lord Chatham to Lady Stanhope stating that he had contacted Lancelot Brown (1716-83), as she had instructed, but there is no evidence that Brown actually became involved. The second Earl's wife and his son, Charles, third Earl (1753-1816), as well as making alterations to the house, were responsible from the 1770s onwards for extensive changes in the grounds, softening the formal layout in a more fashionable form. A map of 1775 by Woodward shows the first stages of these alterations. The fourth Earl, Philip (1781-1855), succeeded in 1816 by which time the park had become neglected. A keen gardener and forester, he spent thirty-seven years planting at Chevening and was responsible for the basic layout of the present gardens and surrounding park. A codicil to his will requested that the garden, pleasure ground, park, woods, and plantations be left unchanged, and his wish was largely respected. Some renovation was carried out in the 1930s and in 1970 Geoffrey Jellicoe (1900-96) became involved in the work. An extensive restoration plan was begun in 1980. On the death of the seventh Earl in 1967, Chevening passed to a trust and it is now (2001) used as an official residence, the occupant being nominated by the Prime Minister.

Associated People
Contact
References

References

Contributors

  • Kent Gardens Trust