Danemore Park 1046

Tunbridge Wells, England, Kent, Tunbridge Wells

Brief Description

Danemore Park is a 19th-century garden laid out around a house of the same period. The garden is mostly lawn but includes garden terracing to the north and west to a design by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.

History

A house was probably first built on the site of Danemore Park in the 1830s; the Tithe Map of 1840 shows a house on the present site set in an estate of 65ha comprising mixed woodland and pasture and a small garden area. In 1861 a Geoffrey Adair and his family were in residence and the 1830s house had been enlarged to a mansion with a park, ornamental gardens, woodland walks and two kitchen gardens. After World War 2, much of the ornamental gardens were laid to lawn. Julian Harrison and his wife June inherited the property in 1986 and Mrs Harrison, a landscape architect in Geoffrey Jellicoe's practice, asked him to redesign the terraces on the north and north-west sides of the mansion.

Detailed Description

A drive ¼ mile long leads up to the house, with a mixed avenue of chestnut with some oak and lime of about 100 years old. Many large trees have been lost in the 1987 storm, including beech, chestnut, larch, pine oak, turkey oak and English oak. A fine old atlas cedar on the lawn immediately to the rear of the house has been lost.

The garden area around the house was mostly laid to lawn until recently when a terrace was laid out round the north and west of the house, to a design by Sir Geoffrey Jellico. The kitchen garden to the south of the house has now been laid to lawn. The evergreen shrubbery screens to the north-east and west of the house consists of yew and rhododendron.

The open parkland is pleasant, the most interesting part being the woodland to the north and east of the house. This valley is known as Little Switzerland (Avery's Wood). It is very attractive with small streams and ancient beech wood. A trackway here was created by German prisoners of war during World War 2. The area was badly storm damaged but footpaths are now clear and the pleasant character has not been lost. The public right of way has been moved.

The following text is taken from the Kent Compendium of Historic Parks and Gardens for Tunbridge Wells Borough:

Gardens and lawns laid out on the north and west sides of an early C19 house and set in parkland with mature oak and beech trees. The landscape architect Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe (1900-96) was commissioned to design a raised terrace garden in 1986 and the plans were implemented in 1991.

SITE DESCRIPTION

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

Danemore Park occupies land that slopes gently to the north with views to the undulating, pastoral, farmed landscape and ancient woodland of the Kentish High Weald. It lies some 2km north-west of Langton Green, 3km south-west of Speldhurst and 4km west of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The c.42ha site is bordered to its south-east by Burnt Wood, to its north-east by Toll Wood and to its south, north and west by pasture and woodlands, all part of the wider Danemore Park Estate.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

Danemore Park is approached from the west side of Speldhurst Road through an entrance immediately north of a C19 lodge (listed grade II). The lodge, a single-storey building with an attic, is built of local sandstone ashlar in an ‘idiosyncratic Tudor style' (listed building description). It has been in separate, private ownership since the mid-C20. A narrow rolled gravel drive lined by a mixed avenue of chestnut, oak and limetrees planted in the mid-C19 (1st edn OS map) bears in a north-westerly direction for 500m through parkland to pass through a five-bar, wooden gate to arrive on a gravelled forecourt on the principal, east front of the mansion.

The forecourt is bounded to its north by a lawn backed by mature rhododendrons. Extending from the north-east corner of the mansion is a 2m high yew hedge with a gap that leads to a terrace on the north-west front. On the south side of the forecourt, beyond a further lawn, a fork from the main drive leads 30m in a south-westerly direction to a former service courtyard (now unused) built onto the mansion's south end. The present route of the drive survives from at least 1862 (1st edn OS map), although until 1936 or later a grassed circle formed the centre of the forecourt (revd edn OS map).

One hundred and fifty metres south-east of the mansion is a late C19 stable block built around a courtyard (2nd edn OS map). It was sold off after World War Two and was converted to a private house. It remains in separate, private ownership.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING

Danemore Park mansion (listed grade II) was probably built in the 1830s and enlarged in the 1850s (listed building description). It is a two-storey house faced in grey render under a hipped, slate roof. A service wing with a cellar beneath extends 20m south from its south-west end. The building (now, 2009, in need of repair) was probably originally stone coloured and ‘lightly blocked-out in imitation of ashlar masonry'. The entrance porch has Tuscan columns and a parapet surmounted by pineapple finials at first floor level.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

The ornamental gardens lie on the north and west sides of the mansion and comprise a continuous, L-shaped terrace and lawns with shrubberies. The terrace, which is raised above the gentle, northward slope of the ground and is paved in York stone, runs around the entire north and north-west fronts and affords fine views over the surrounding lawns which are enclosed from the parkland by a boundary fence.

On the north-west front doors opening onto the terrace are flanked by 0.3m high, planted, concrete, raised beds that abut the mansion wall.

The whole length of the eastern edge of the terrace is lined by a 1.5m wide gravel path edged on its lawn side by a low (0.5m) clipped box hedge. Six stone steps at the terrace's northern end lead down onto the surrounding lawns while at its southern end, the terrace is enclosed by a high yew hedge with a gap allowing access from the gravel path onto the lawns. The length of the terrace on the north front is enclosed by a low (0.3m), rendered, concrete wall (parts now, 2009, in need of repair) that allows views to the north-west along an early C20 rhododendron walk (40m from the mansion) and to Avery Wood further to its north. The walk is terminated by a balustrade with a seat at its foot. At the west end of the terrace shrubs surround a fountain and a large-scale garden chessboard while its eastern end is planted as a spring garden with three climber-covered pergola arches above a gravel path.

By 1986, the terrace and garden had become neglected (personal communication) and Jellicoe's 1986 plans were complete for a redesign of the existing terrace. These were not implemented until 1991, by which time he had added features such as the fountain and the chessboard terrace (photographs). The planting scheme was designed by Valerie Winter (Spens).

The lawns to the mansion's north, west and south-west contain some surviving mature rhododendrons, beech, Scots pine and oak trees from the mid C19 and C20 garden layouts. OS maps of this period show a circuitous walk laid out on the south-west lawn, the outline of the paths surviving visibly beneath the grass.

PARKLAND

Parkland surrounds the gardens on all sides and is managed as grazed pasture with many mature trees surviving from the C19 (2009). It is bounded by Burnt Wood to its east, Toll Wood to its north and Avery Wood to its west, all these lying within the wider Danemore Park estate. Twenty metres to the mansion's north-west an 80m long, narrow, path lined with mature rhododendrons crosses the parkland in a north-westerly direction to reach a metal gate on the edge of Avery Wood. On the west side of the gate steep, rocky steps descend to a woodland walk that winds to the valley bottom and then continues as a series of walks northwards and southwards in the wider woodland. The pathway and system of walks survive from the mid-C19 and are shown on maps from 1862.

KITCHEN GARDEN

Two kitchen gardens to the immediate south of the mansion's service courtyard are shown on OS maps from 1862, but had been laid to lawn by 1986 and are now open fields. The two enclosed (possibly walled) gardens were aligned on an approximately north-south axis with an acute angle between them forming a triangular-shaped frame yard. The northernmost garden (c.40m x 40m) was divided vertically into two sections with perimeter paths and in the 1860s was planted with fruit trees. By 1909, a glasshouse (c.10m x 6m) had been built against its exterior north-west wall and a number of glasshouses are shown in the frameyard (2nd edn OS map). In 1936 two long glasshouses are also shown built against the exterior south side of the service courtyard.

The southernmost garden (c.50m x 35m) was divided horizontally into two sections with perimeter paths and is shown with trees planted in the four corners of each section.There were probably slip gardens immediately outside its east and west walls.

REFERENCES

Books and articles

Hasted, Edward, ‘Parishes: Speldhurst', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3 (1797), pp. 275-300.

Kelly's Directories 1899-1934.

Michael Spens, The Complete Landscape Designs and Gardens of Geoffrey Jellicoe (Thames & Hudson, 1994), p. 202.

Maps

Edward Hasted map Speldhurst 1778.

William Mudge, An Entirely new and accurate survey of the county of Kent 1801.

Charles Greenwood, Map of the County of Kent 1821.

Tithe map 1840

OS maps 1st edn 6" 1862

2nd edn 6" 1897

3rd edn 6" 1907

4th edn 6" 1929

OS maps 1st edn map 1870 Sheets 60/0 & 60/10

2nd edn 25" 1898 Sheets 60/0 & 60/10

3rd edn 25" 1909 Sheets 60/0 & 60/10

Revd edn 25" 1936 Sheets 60/0 & 60/10

Jellicoe's design for Danemore Park terrace garden 1986 (private collection).

Modern Mastermap 1:2,500 2007

Map showing listed buildings within Danemore Park boundaries 1:5,000

Illustrations

7 colour photographs of the newly completed garden 1991 (private collection)

Aerial photograph 2003

Archival items

Census data 1861-1901

Kent Compendium notes (pre 1986)

Kent Compendium entry 1996

English Heritage Listed Buildings entries: undated.

Tunbridge Wells Borough, Local Development Framework. Supplementary Planning Document. Speldhurst Conservation Area Appraisal (June 2006)

Research by Barbara Piper

Description written by Barbara Simms

Edited by Virginia Hinze

May 2009

Features
  • Garden Terrace
  • Description: The garden area around the house was mostly laid to lawn until recently when a terrace was laid out round the north and west of the house, to a design by Sir Geoffrey Jellico.
  • Drive
  • Description: A drive ? mile long leads up to the house, with a mixed avenue of chestnut with some oak and lime of about 100 years old.
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: It is a small grey, Georgian country house.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Shrubbery
  • Description: The evergreen shrubbery screens to the north-east and west of the house consists of yew and rhododendron.
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The kitchen garden to the south of the house has now been laid to lawn.
Access & Directions

Directions

The site is about 1 mile south-west of Speldhurst, 3 miles west of the centre of Tunbridge Wells.
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Speldhurst
History

Detailed History

The house was built and enlarged between 1800 and 1860. It is a small grey, Georgian country house. Originally it had a small estate of 65 hectares comprising mixed woodland and pasture and a small garden area. However, the farmhouse was sold in 1948, and the lodge and field the other side of the drive were sold in 1982.

The following text is taken from the Kent Compendium of Historic Parks and Gardens for Tunbridge Wells Borough:

CHRONOLOGY OF THE HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

In 1778 the site now occupied by Danemore Park is shown as woodland with a few farm houses on the periphery (Hasted), but by the early decades of the C18 further tracts of land had been cleared and new houses built (Mudge, Greenwood). A house was probably first built on the site of Danemore Park in the 1830s (listed building description); the Tithe Map of 1840 shows a house on the present site set in an estate of 65ha comprising mixed woodland and pasture and a small garden area.

In 1861 a Geoffrey Adair and his family were in residence and the 1830s house had been enlarged to a mansion with a park, ornamental gardens, woodland walks and two kitchen gardens (Census; 1st edn OS map). A James Bowles Reeves owned the property in 1899 and he may have been responsible for building a lodge and stable block before selling to the Misses Langemore who were in residence in 1918 (Kelly's Directory; 2nd edn OS map). The garden appears to have remained unchanged from 1860 until 1929 when a rhododendron walk extending north-west from the mansion is shown on the 3rd edn OS map. This was probably under Edwin John King's ownership who was in occupation in 1927 (Kelly's Directory).

During World War Two Danemore Park was requisitioned by the Civil Defence, immediately following which it was bought by a Sir Hubert Pitman who sold off some of the land. When he died in 1986, the ornamental gardens and the kitchen gardens had been laid to lawn and the lodge and further land had been sold (Kent Compendium). His nephew, Julian Harrison, and his wife June inherited the property and Mrs Harrison, a landscape architect in Geoffrey Jellicoe's practice, asked him to redesign the terraces on the north and north-west sides of the mansion. The property remains in single private ownership.

Associated People
References

References

  • Kent County Council Planning Department {The Kent Gardens Compendium} (Canterbury: Kent County Council, 1996) 44The Kent Gardens Compendium

Contributors

  • Kent Gardens Trust