The present garden at Morton Manor was developed in the later 20th century on a site which has been developed since the 16th century.
Morton Manor is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The property lies at the foot of Brading Down, to the west of Yarbridge.
At present the property includes the following:
The house is a Grade II Listed Building. The listing includes a detached garden wall to the south-east.
Extracts from the listed building description follow:
‘Original part probably dating from about 1540 on earlier foundations (much restored in about 1890) with T wing to front of about 1680 and two early 19th century projections at the rear, one of which is a gun room. Original building is partially of stone rubble, part brick and part pebble-dashed render on ground floor with tile-hung first floor.'
‘A section of garden wall leads from the house to the front gate. This is early 19th century in Flemish bond and approximately 7 feet (2.04 metres) high.'
‘The 1680 wing has a lounge refurbished in about 1780.'
There is also a granary (Listed Grade II), of early 19th century date. The construction features 3x3 Flemish bond brick on mushroom shaped staddle stones strengthened with brick supports.
The grounds include bee boles, and a maze (recently created). (Site visit: F. Basford 27.4.91).
The 19th century terraces feature a huge London plane. Modern planting includes an Indian Bean and 50 varieties of Japanese maple (Rose & King 1996). There is also a knot garden.
The garden was developed as a visitor attraction in the later 20th century including the area of former parkland, where a large pond has been dug. The garden is open to the public (pre-2009).
Garden Terrace, Pond, Bee Shelter, Knot Garden, Lawn, Specimen Tree, Flower Bed
The following is a brief history of Morton Manor, supplied by the Isle of Wight Gardens Trust with references used by them.
An annotated transcription of ‘The Royal Survey of the Isle of Wight' in the Isle of Wight (IW) County Record Office equates Morton with the Domesday Manor of Beradinz (Brading). During the Middle Ages this manor became split into the three holdings of Lower Morton, Middle Morton and Upper Morton. Upper Morton Farm was owned by John Fleming of Newport, Gent in 1559/1560. It then passed through various families before being sold to William James, the tenant, in 1789. Upper Morton Farm can be equated with the property now known as Morton Manor (pers comm. Clifford Webster) although the Ordnance Survey (OS) unpublished map of 1793 has mistakenly labelled Middle Morton Farm as ‘Upper Martin', leaving ‘Morton Manor' unnamed.
The first detailed description of the property is contained in sale particulars of 1822 which advertise the ‘Freehold Villa called Morton with the Lawn, Shrubbery, Plantations and 26 Acres' (about 10 hectares) as well as several cottages and land, including ‘About 70 Acres of uncommonly fine Meadow and Arable Land' (about 28 hectares). The house and grounds are described under Lot 1. At that time the house contained a drawing room, dining room, hall, ‘four best Bed-Rooms and two Servants' Bed Rooms' as well as domestic offices. The particulars mention a coach-house, stables, barn, granary, cow-sheds and piggeries. Details of both house and grounds are shown on an attached plan and the grounds are described as follows:
‘This charming retreat is encircled by the Lawn, Shrubbery, Pleasure and Kitchen Gardens, laid out with approved taste and abundantly stocked with choice fruit trees.'
On 24 December 1828 John James of Morton sold to George Ward of Northwood Park, West Cowes, I.W. Esq.
‘the much admired and delightful villa called Morton, (containing l a. 3r.4p.) with Lawn (3 a. 0r. 37p.), Shrubbery (2r. 19p.), Greenhouse, Kitchen and pleasure gardens, partly walled-in [plots 617-19 on the tithe map] and several enclosure of rich arable and pasture land in a high state of cultivation containing about 26 acres'. (a = acre; r = rod; p = perch. These are pre-metric land measurements.)
The Brading tithe map of 1842 gives George Henry Ward Esq as owner of Morton Villa, garden, shrubbery and meadow, shown as plots 617-619, containing 5a. 2r. 15p., in occupation of John James, the former owner.
On the OS 1st Ed map of 1866 the property is still named 'Morton Villa' but it is shown as Morton Manor on the OS 25 inch map of 1898.
The OS 1866 map shows the grounds largely as represented on the 1822 plan. There are individual trees in open ground to the north of the house and formally planted trees in a small area of parkland to the south. A small pond is shown within the parkland. A kitchen garden to the west of the property and pleasure gardens to the east are separated by a courtyard.