Hartridge House (also known as Sissinghurst Park)2990

Sissinghurst, England, Kent, Tunbridge Wells

Brief Description

The gardens at Hartridge House were laid out in 1907 by horticulturalist and nurseryman Colonel Charles Grey to provide a setting for his house. The house is bounded by woodland on all sides.

History

The grounds were laid out prior to the building of the house in 1913. They were established by Charles Grey, an alpine expert, collector, and author of three volumes on hardy bulbs (published in 1937). The site was not laid out to a definite plan, rather it grew in stages as progressively more land was taken in.

Terrain

The house stands high above the Weald of Kent, commanding a panoramic view.

Detailed Description

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 laid out in 1907 by the owner Colonel Charles Grey, a respected horticulturalist and nursery owner, to provide the setting for his new house.

DESCRIPTION

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

Hartridge House occupies a rural setting c 18km to the east of Tunbridge Wells on the west side of the village of Cranbrook Common, which itself lies to the north of Sissinghurst village. The c 17ha site is bounded on all sides by woodland, with a short section of Convalescent Lane running along the south-east edge. The house stands high above the Weald of Kent, commanding a panoramic view to the north, west, and south, with a deep wooded valley falling away to the south-east.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

Hartridge House is approached via a tree-lined drive branching north-west off the track known as Convalescent Lane which leads west off the B2083 north of the village of Sissinghurst. The drive passes across farmland, originally planted as orchards, for c 0.7km to arrive at the informal turning circle at the north front. Steps between a low retaining wall lead up to a raised paved path to the front door, flanked on either side by grass.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING

Hartridge House (listed grade II) is a small country house built of red brick with raised, rusticated quoins. Deep coved eaves lie below a plain tiled hipped roof which supports a tall central brick stack. The house is arranged in two storeys, with attics and has a central two-storey porch with flanking wings. The house was built for Charles Grey in 1913, possibly to designs by the Arts and Crafts architect Mervyn Macartney. It is dated on the decorated hopper-heads at the top of prominent down pipes.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

Beyond the south front of Hartridge House lies a level lawn bounded by yew hedging. The extensive views over the countryside beyond have become obscured by the trees which lie beyond the yew hedge. From the centre of the lawn, a long, straight, tiled path leads through a gap in the yew hedge down to the wooded valley in which stands a simple wooden shelter. The bank to the east of the walk is laid out as a rockery. The site provided perfect conditions for the success of rhododendrons and azaleas, plants which were enjoying great popularity in the Edwardian period.

Roughly parallel, to the east of and above the main walk, is a straight grassed path, on the far side of which, at a slightly higher level and screened by a yew hedge, is the tennis lawn. Above this again is a less formal path through woodland. A screen of planting divides the gardens from the paddock, once planted as a cherry orchard and presumably, since two greenhouses still stand here, the kitchen garden area.

A new swimming pool has been constructed at the eastern end of the main lawn and a new set of balustraded steps has been built off the west end of the lawn leading down to a tree-planted grass slope. A lime avenue marks the boundary along the south-west perimeter of this area, from where the path leads to, then encircles a small lake. A leat links the lake to a second, smaller, body of water, set in the north-west corner of Rowland's Wood. The Wood forms the setting for the house on the north side. Below the north front the plantings which once divided the offices from the family rooms have been taken out, and the area to the east of the house has been tarmacked over.

REFERENCES

The Northern Gardener (1956), pp 21-4

Maps

OS 6" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1908

Description rewritten: April 2001

Amended: October 2001

Edited: November 2003

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
History

Detailed History

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 grounds of Hartridge House were laid out on a virgin site by the owner, Colonel Charles Hoare (he became Charles Grey as a consequence of his second marriage in 1917) around the turn of the 20th century, the work pre-dating that on the house which was erected in 1913. The site was not laid out to a definite plan, rather it grew in stages as progressively more land was taken in. Colonel Grey was descended from Henry Hoare of Stourhead and grew up at Hackwood (there are descriptions of both these sites elsewhere in the Register). An alpine expert, collector, and author of three volumes on hardy bulbs (published in 1937), after the First World War Colonel Grey moved to Yorkshire where he was instrumental in founding the Northern Horticultural Society's Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate. After 1920 when Hartridge was sold, Colonel Grey moved back to Hocker Edge, a mill which lies to the west of Hartridge (outside the area here registered), at which he had been living prior to the building of the new house. Here he developed a second garden which included an extensive rock garden under construction in 1925, and to the south-east of this a commercial nursery. The nursery attended the main horticultural shows, winning various trophies including a gold cup for a rock garden exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in May 1937. Amongst a number of other schemes, Grey also laid out his brother's garden in Ovingden, Hampshire, worked at Belsay, Northumberland (see the descriptions of both these sites elsewhere in the Register) for Sir Arthur Middleton, and was responsible for some improvements at Mount Stuart, Northern Ireland. Since the 1920s the site has been divided up but remains (2001) in private ownership.

Period

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

Just one person associated to Hartridge House

Contact

Telephone

01793 445050

Official Website

Click Here
References

References