Marle Place has a formal compartmentalised garden laid out from the mid-19th century around an early-17th-century timber-framed house, with garden features from the early-20th century, including terraced gardens and a rock garden.
The core of the house is timber-framed and characteristic of the Wealden area in the early-17th century. The house was enlarged in the late-1850s, a gazebo added in the 1860s and a conservatory later in the 19th century. A Mr Langer bought and remodelled the house in the early-20th century, removing the farm buildings on the south and immediately west of the house. The house, outbuildings and gardens remain in single, private ownership.
The following text is taken from the Kent Compendium of Historic Parks and Gardens for Tunbridge Wells Borough:
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Marle Place stands on sloping ground with views to the south, south-west and south-east to the surrounding ancient woodland, hop gardens and orchards of the undulating High Weald. Brenchley is approximately 2km to the north, Lamberhurst 3km south and Royal Tunbridge Wells 8km to the west. The c.10h site is approximately 1.3km north-west of the junction between Marle Place Road and the Lamberhurst to Claygate road (B2100). The main Tunbridge Wells-Hastings road (A21) is about 2km to the south. The site is bordered to the south and west by woodland (Cottage Wood), to the east and north-east by Marle Place Road, and on the northern boundary by an access track to Honeycomb Cottage, immediately west of the property boundary.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The entrance gateway to Marle Place late (C19 listed grade II) stands on the south side of Marle Place Road. It is set within a late C19 brick garden wall with buttresses (listed grade II), which extends along the roadside with evergreen trees (hollies and conifers) on its garden side. The lych-style gateway has a ‘gabletted roof on brick piers, the roof supported on curved timber braces' (listed building description). One-metre high double wooden gates with wrought-iron fixings are hung on the brick piers of the gateway. They open into a gravelled courtyard on the north entrance front of the house (3rd edn OS map).
Marle Place (listed grade II), built in the early C17, is a two-storey timber-framed house with an attic. It has a gabled porch (dated 1619), gabled bays, brick stacks and a tiled roof (listed building description). Internal refurbishments were made in the C18 and extensive internal and external modelling was carried out in the late C19 and early C20 centuries in the Vernacular Revival style. There is a late C19 conservatory with a crested iron ridge on the west side of the house.
Twenty metres to the north-west of the house is a C19 two-storey brick coach house. It has a tiled upper storey and roof and an outside staircase and has been converted for use as an art gallery with garages below. Set back on the building's west end is a single-storey brick stable block now used for storage. Fifty metres to the south-west of the stable block there are two C19 outbuildings, now converted as workshops.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The formal terraced gardens are to the immediate south-east of the house, surrounded by southward sloping lawns. The four main terraces are each approximately 60m wide. From the top to the bottom terrace, they now (2008) contain a lawn with shrub borders, a croquet lawn, a swimming pool and a scented garden. The terraces are mostly enclosed by yew hedges, each with an arch through to adjoining garden areas. Central flights of steps, partially lined with pleached limes, descend from each terrace to the next providing a long view down approximately 40 steps to the scented garden. The terraces, supported by brick retaining walls or grass slopes, were constructed in the interwar period on the site of C19 orchards and hop gardens (4th edn OS map).
The entrance to the top terrace is from the courtyard on the main north front via a gravelled path along the east side of the house. The top terrace is laid out in a roughly triangular-shaped lawn with shrub borders, bounded on its north side by the roadside garden wall and on the south and east by a 1.5m yew hedge. Set in the south yew hedge approximately 50m east of the house is a late C19 single-storey, circular brick gazebo (listed grade II). It has a conical tiled roof and stained glass windows. In the late C20, its entrance was changed from north facing to south facing and is now from the croquet lawn terrace below.
Below the croquet lawn terrace is the swimming pool terrace, the pool with a tiled surround and set in a lawn with an old quince tree, pampas grass and evergreens. Below this terrace are two shallow grassed terraces planted with pleached limes along their lengths. Nine brick steps descend to a similar narrow terrace, a low brick wall on its south side forming the north enclosure of the scented garden, with borders of plants such as roses, lavender and herbs. This was developed by the current owners from a sunken rose garden with lily pool (photographs in private collection), the lily pool (10m x 4m) with semi-circular ends and stone surround remaining. On the west side of the pool a gateway flanked by two 1.5m brick piers has been created in an early C20 wall to give access to the south garden front, with views north across the lawn to the house.
Immediately east of the top terrace and running south-east, is a double herbaceous border planted in the mid-1990s. It is enclosed by the roadside boundary wall on the north and a beech hedge on the south and is terminated by a modern C20 bronze cast of a terracotta warrior on a stone plinth. East of the statue the brick walls curve south along the property boundary alongside an avenue of mature conifers, which leads south to a woodland walk. South of the statue a yew arch opens into a quarter-circle-shaped spring garden where a mature spruce tree is underplanted with bulbs.
On the south garden front of the house there is a raised terrace of exposed aggregate concrete slabs with wisteria-covered pergolas framing the east and west ends. The terrace projects southwards at its east end enclosed by a further pergola. Views south-east from the terrace are across a lawn to two mature cedars, a weeping lime and conifers, with woodland beyond. The terrace extends northwards between the west side of the house and a mature horse chestnut to a gravel pathway fronting the converted coach house and stable block. To the east of the coach house there is an exit to an access road running east-west along the property boundary from Marle Place Road to Honeycomb Cottage.
To the west of the stable block and north of the gravel path is an early C20 rock garden (approximately 10m x 20m). It has a central cascade (2008 not working) designed to flow north-south into a rill and a well, the well covered by a lych-gate-style roof. The layout of the rock garden is intact, but apart from a few small trees (an Acer, a Magnolia and a yew), the plants have been replaced. To the south of the gravel path an ornamental rectangular pool with fountain forms the central feature of a lawn bounded by beech and evergreen hedges. A track runs north along the west side of the rock garden to join the access road to Marle Place Road.
Approximately 300m south of the house, is a 80m semi-circular 2m high double beech hedge, planted by the current owners in the 1970s. Until the late C19, when Marl Place was a working farm, this land was pasture (1st edn OS map), but by 1895 it is shown planted with an orchard or hops (2nd edn OS map). It was laid out as a garden in the 1920s (4th edn OS map). Since the late C20, a number of new garden areas, including silver birch and lime avenues, an arboretum, a bog garden and an ornamental lake, have been created south of the hedge. From the west end of the hedge, the young silver birch avenue runs south for approximately 100m. A temple, partly constructed from a dismantled Victorian orangery at Capel Manor, Horsmonden, forms a focal point at the southern end. Also from the west end of the beech hedge, a lime avenue extends 120m south-west to a Chilstone urn. To the west of the avenue is a C21 children's play area, incorporating a mid-C20 concrete-lined sandpit and paddling pool. A few metres west of the end of the lime avenue, approximately 200m south-west of the house, is a pond into which a stream, its edges planted as a bog garden, runs southwards. A few metres before the stream enters the pond, a red wooden bridge crosses it, leading to parkland.
Parkland to the south-west of the mansion is laid out as an arboretum. The area of approximately 150m x 150m has been planted since 1990 with 7000 European tree species on the site of an earlier hop garden. At the south-west corner of the arboretum, 400m from the house, is a lake, enlarged from from an existing pond (possibly in a C19 marl pit). To the south of the arboretum, the park is bounded by Cottage Wood, through which a stream runs in an east-west direction. Boardwalk crossings provide access to woodland walks.
Approximately 200m to the west of the house there is a late C20 yew-hedged parterre-style kitchen garden (approximately 20m x 80m) with two C19 greenhouses. The layout comprises a series of small parterres with ornamental planting enclosed by low box edging, or timber-edged raised beds for vegetables, with gravel paths between them. An orchard and a nut plat have been planted by the current owners south of the yew hedge. These two areas are on the site of a mid-C20 century yew-enclosed kitchen garden extending south for 180m (1965 photograph). Located at the north end of the kitchen garden, the two surviving glasshouses (one now used as an orchid house) have fish scale glass roofs and finials (shown on the 4th edn OS map). A cold frame (labelled Tuckers of Tottenham) is sited alongside.
Books and articles
Edward Hasted, ‘Parishes: Brenchley (part), The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7 (1798), pp. 280-94.
Leslie Elgar Pike, Brenchley and Matfield, Kent. The Official Guide (1966).
John Newman, West Kent and the Weald (Pevsner's Buildings of England series, 1969), p. 181.
Elisabeth Hall, Garden of England. Evolution of Historic Gardens in Kent (Kent County Council, 2005), pp. 8, 9, 45.
‘Greener Fingers: gardening with nature in mind', High Weald Anvil (2006).
Denise Barr, ‘The Shaping of our Parish', Brenchley and Matfield Revisited (Brenchley and Matfield Local History Society, 2008).
Edward Hasted, Map of Kent 1778.
Tithe map (Brenchley Parish) 1842-44. CKS ref CTR4SA+B
OS 25" to 1mile: 1st edition published 1870 (Sheets 61/11)
2nd edition published 1895 (Sheets 61/11)
3rd edition published 1906 (Sheets 61/11)
Revised edition published 1938 (Sheets 61/11)
Topographic survey, 2001. Scale 1:500.
Monson Surveyors Drawing No 2182A/01 (private collection)
Modern Mastermap 1:2,500
Map showing listed buildings within Marle Place boundaries
Diagram of Marle Place garden, 2008
William Hodges, Photographs of Marle Place. Late C19 (private collection)
William Twopenny, Drawing of Marle Place. Late C19 (private collection)
Colour aerial photographs 1964, 1980, 1995, 2005 (private collection)
Aerial photograph of Marle Place 2003
Census data 1841-1901.
Marle Place publicity leaflet 2009
English Heritage Listed Buildings entries (extracts?) undated.
Research by Barbara Piper
Description written by Barbara Simms
Edited by Virginia Hinze
- House (featured building)
- Description: This is a two-storey timber-framed house with an attic. It has a gabled porch (dated 1619), gabled bays, brick stacks and a tiled roof (listed building description).
- Earliest Date:
The following text is taken from the Kent Compendium of Historic Parks and Gardens for Tunbridge Wells Borough:
Until the late C12, Brenchley (at that time known variously as Braencesli, Braencheslie, Brancheslega, Branchesle or Btaencesle) was within the parish of Eldyrige (later known as Yalding) and probably originated as a clearing in the ancient Wealden oak forest (Barr). The Manor of Brenchley was granted by William the Conqueror to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and later passed to Richard de Clare, Earl of Hertford, and then to Edward, Duke of Buckingham (Pike). After Edward's beheading in 1521, Henry VIII first gave the Manor to Cardinal Wolsey and then, in 1539, to Paul Sydnor for his services as agent to the Court of Spain (Millennium Record). It became the property of William Lambard in 1578.
From the C14, the Brenchley area had flourished with trades associated with cloth making and the iron industry, many of the ‘mostly old-fashioned timbered buildings' resulting from the wealth generated (Hasted). At Marle Place, although the origins and names of the early owners are unrecorded, the core of the house is timber-framed and characteristic of the Wealden area in the early C17 (listed building description). It is shown on Hasted's map of 1778. Census data records a farming family, Anne Fuggle and her children, as resident in 1841 and the Tithe Map 1842-44 documents the property (Marl Place) as a house with farm buildings and surrounding land. By 1851 Thomas Mainwaring, his wife and two young children were living there (Census) and the holding had expanded from 220 to 600 acres (89 to 243ha)
In the late 1850s, the house was enlarged, as shown in a C19 drawing by William Twopenny. In the 1860s, a gazebo was built south-east of the house (listed building description) and, later in the century, a conservatory added on the west side. The work in progress was documented by the local Brenchley photographer, William Hodges. By 1897, the house and garden had been divided from the farm buildings by a brick wall (2nd edn OS map). A Mr Langer bought and remodelled the house in the early C20, removing the farm buildings on the south and immediately west of the house. He also relocated the glasshouses from south of the house to a new site 100m further west.
The house had a number of owners in the period leading up to and during the Second World War, but was bought by a Mr Victor Canning in 1946. His daughter inherited the property in 1965. The house, outbuildings and gardens remain in single, private ownership. Some of the C19 and early C20 garden layouts remain intact, but now (2008) with modern planting.
- Victorian (1837-1901)