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Sprivers, Horsmonden


Sprivers is an 18th-century garden associated with a 15th-century principal building. Much of the original 18th-century design remains, with the recent addition of a new temple on the site of the 18th-century original. The garden features a rose garden, herbaceous border, woodland walk and an unusual 18th-century octagonal game border.

There are 4.5 hectares of immediate garden, plus a wood and orchards. Box and yew hedges remain from the 18th or 19th century, and a new temple has recently been placed on the site of an 18th-century temple. There are many old walls, lawns and herbaceous borders. A duck pond next to the exit road supports many different species of wildfowl.

The National Trust owns the garden and all the surrounding land. The gardens are administered and largely maintained on the Trust's behalf by the tenant who lives in and manages the property privately as a showground for Chilstone garden ornaments.

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

A formal, compartmentalised garden laid out around a C15 manor house (extended in the C16 and C18) and with surviving elements of garden and landscape features from the C16 onwards.



Sprivers lies on a gently sloping sandstone ridge enclosed by the orchards, pasture and woodlands of the High Weald's undulating topography. The c.15ha site is about 1km south-west of Horsmonden, 3km north of Lamberhurst and 9.5km east of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The site is bounded on its north side by Brenchley Road, to its east by Lamberhurst Road (B2162) and to its south and west by the orchards of Highlands and Flightshot Farms.


The present main approach to Sprivers is off the west side of Lamberhurst Road, at the south-east corner of the site. A consolidated gravel drive lined with C18 sweet chestnut trees runs c.170m in a north-westerly direction before making a right-angled turn due north to continue for a further 170m through its parkland. The drive passes between 1.5m high beech and yew hedges to arrive at a gravelled forecourt (c.40m x 20m) immediately to its west. Separating the hedge and the drive is a narrow area of lawn on which four Wellingtonias survive from a C19 planting. The forecourt opens onto lawns on its south and north sides. The lawn to the north is backed by a 1.5m high yew hedge which forms one side of another yew-hedged lawn with rhododendrons on it, and that to the south by a shallow grassy bank leading up to a c.0.1ha shrub and woodland area (with C18 larches).

From the forecourt entrance the drive continues in a northerly direction for 150m passing between ponds (Horse Pond and the Moat), probably of medieval origin, to a junction of three further secondary drives. These are partly tarmacdam surfaced and used as forest trails. The north and north-west drives run from entrances 600m apart on Brenchley Road, respectively, for 350m and 650m through Sprivers Wood. The fourth tree-lined drive leads c.250m westwards from Lamberhurst Road through parkland to the junction of the other two secondary drives. All four drives survive from the C18.


Sprivers (listed grade II*), built in 1756, is a two-storey red-brick house with an attic under a hipped, plain-tiled roof. The building with five bays and three pedimented dormers (listed building description) incorporates an older Elizabethan structure to its north and was described by Pevsner as ‘nice but simple'. The west front opens onto an C18 walled courtyard, the west side of which is formed by a range of C18 outbuildings (a former granary, a honey house with apple loft, and a bakehouse/brewery, listed grade II).

Forty metres to the north of the house is an C18, single-storey, red-brick, stable block with an attic (listed grade II) with a walled courtyard to its west. The building is now used for storage.


The west, south and north fronts of the house overlook small garden enclosures, some parts of which are walled. The form and internal layout of these gardens survives from the mid-C19 (1st edn OS map).

In the southern enclosure, built onto the south front of the house is a wisteria-covered early C20 loggia from which there are views south across a lawn. The loggia replaced a late C19 conservatory (2nd and 3rd OS maps) which is shown in an undated photograph (private collection) with a tennis lawn to its south. From the lawn a broad grass path runs 20m southwards flanked by herbaceous borders and terminated by a 2m high yew hedge with a ‘Lutyens' seat below.The west side of the borders is enclosed by a brick wall which also forms the east side of an adjoining fully walled rose garden (c.20m x 40m). A brick path bisects the rose garden which is built on land gently rising to the south and is enclosed at its south end by a yew hedge planted at the foot of the wall. The southern section is laid out as eight rose beds with grassed perimeter paths and borders at the foot of its enclosing walls and the northern section is lawn from which there are views down to the courtyard on the west front of the house.

The west front garden enclosure, to the west again of the walled courtyard, is also walled and laid to grass with borders and is thought that this garden was formerly a maids' garden (personal communication).

The north front enclosure (c.20m x 20m) occupies the area between the house and the stable block and is laid to lawn with an C18, octagonal, timber-framed game larder (listed grade II) standing 10m north-west of the house.

Immediately west of the former maids' garden and now managed as rough grass is an area (c.70m x 70m) shown on the 1st edn map laid out in a formal arrangement of cross axes and perimeter walks. The outline of the north-south axis is still visible in the grass and is lined by surviving, C19 pear trees. Four, clipped, box balls mark the point where this axis crossed the main east-west axis. The area is enclosed on its south and west boundaries by 2m high clipped hedges, the hedge on the west end curving in at both ends. A row of mature yew trees marks the western boundary with adjacent fields. The northern boundary of this area is also formed by a row of mature yew trees, the latter running some 70m in a south-easterly direction along the curved edge of a dry, semi-circular pond (0.03ha) lying 20m north-west of the house and shown on the C18 estate map. The straight, northern edge of the former pond is formed by a 40m long brick wall surmounted by a stone balustrade, now possibly part Chilstone (personal communication). From the west end of the balustrade six, shallow, wide, stone stops descend to a walk along its length with views down to the dry pond several metres below. OS maps show that the pond was dry by 1908 and that the steps and balustrade had been built by 1938.

North of the pond is the remains of ‘a feature resembling a moat' (scheduled ancient monument description). It is probably of medieval origin and there appears to be an eastern and northern arm as well as parts of the adjoining angles, but no traces of the remaining sections. The moat arms are shown on the C18 estate map and referred to by previous owners of Sprivers as ‘The Moat'. Two arms of moat enclose the north-east sides of a wild flower meadow planted in the late C20 on the site of an C18 orchard.


Parkland to the east and north-east of the house was probably laid out on former woodland or heath by the late C18 (Hasted). It is managed as pasture, with mature trees surviving in the east parkland only (since the 1930s in separate ownership). Former parkland to the south-east is now laid out as an orchard. To the north and north-west of the house Sprivers Wood comprises sweet chestnut coppice with oak and beech trees and is managed sustainably by the National Trust. The present woodland trails are the rides and woodland walks laid out from at least the mid-C19.


A kitchen garden lies 15m to the south-west of the house and adjoining the west wall of the rose garden below which runs a brick path surviving from the C19 (1st edn OS map). The south end of the garden is bounded by a post-and-wire fence which allows views over the surrounding pasture. The garden is now laid to grass with a C20 greenhouse and cold frames and at 75m and 65m respectively south-west of the house, two, mid-C18, timber-framed and weather-boarded barns (listed grade II).

Orchards appear on maps of Sprivers from the C18, the present kitchen garden being recorded on an C18 estate map as a ‘walnut tree orchard'; it remained an orchard until at least 1938. Other orchards to its south, gone by the mid-C19 (1st edn OS map) were recorded as ‘the cherry orchard' and ‘the apple orchard'. Evidence from the C18 estate map suggests that the garden adjoining the east side of ‘walnut tree orchard' (now the lawn to the south of the forecourt) might have been a kitchen garden.

Books and articles

Richard Gough, Camden's Britannia-Kent. 1977 edn edited by G. J. Copely (1789).

Edward Hasted, ‘Parishes: Horsmonden, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5 (London, 1798), pp. 311-22.

Bagshaw's Directory for Horsmonden (1847, 1901)

Kelly's Directory for Horsmonden (1899, 1909, 1913, 1918, 1927, 1934)

John Newman, West Kent and the Weald (Pevsner's Buildings of England series, 1969), p. 334.

Judith Glover, Place Names of Kent (Batsford, 1976), p. 179.


A map of..... Mr Courthope 1705 (private collection)

A Survey and map of Sprivers lying ...undated (private collection) (C18?)

J. Andrews, W. Dury and W. Herbert, A Topographical Map of the County of Kent ...1769.

Edward Hasted map 1778

William Mudge, A New and Accurate Survey of Kent 1801.

Charles Greenwood, Map of the County of Kent 1821.

Tithe map and apportionment 1840-42. CKS ref CTR912B.

OS maps 1st edn 6" OS map 1862.

1st edn 6" OS map revised 1881

2nd edn 6" OS map 1897

3rd edn 6" OS map 1907

4th edn 6" OS map 1929

OS maps 1st edn 25" OS map 1869. Sheet 61/12

2nd edn 25" OS map 1897 Sheet 61/12

3rd edn 25" OS map 1908 Sheet 61/12

Revd edn 25" OS map 1938 Sheet 61/12

Modern Mastermap 1:10,000 2007.

Map showing listed buildings within Sprivers boundaries


Print of the layout of the gardens C18 (private collection).

Postcards of Sprivers House and Avenue 1903.

C19 photographs (private collection).

8 colour photographs 1981/2

Aerial photograph of Sprivers 2003.

Archival items

Land ownership records (1735). Danny Estate archives. East Sussex Record Office ref. U814/P16 (notes).

Land purchase records (1748). Courthope Family of Whiligh archives. East Sussex Record Office ref. SAS-CO/1/1309 (notes).

Family settlement documents of the Partheriche family 1766. Danny Estate archives. East Sussex Record Office ref. DAN/638, 637 (notes).

John Cole occupancy 1796. Campion family archive. East Sussex Record Office ref. DAN/153/155.

Correspondence from John Luxford to Curteis family 1809. Curteis family archive. East Sussex Record Office ref. AMSQ.

Court Baron 1821. CKS ref. U1006M35.

Census data 1841-1901.

Sale/ purchase of shares 1910. Chester archives ref. DDB.

Notes for 1981 Compendium.

Kent Compendium entry 1996.

English Heritage Listed Buildings entries: undated.

Statement of Significance of Sprivers. National Trust (private collection)

Documents relating to Sprivers 1976-present. National Trust file held at Scotney Castle.

Research by Barbara Piper

Description written by Barbara Simms

Edited by Virginia Hinze

May 2009

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01892 723722

Access contact details

The site has infrequent opening hours in June. Please see:


The site is 1 mile south-west of the village of Horsmonden, on the B2162. Please see:


The National Trust

Heelis, Kemble Drive,, SN2 2NA

The house dates from 1440 and in fact another house of about the same date used to stand on a site to the north. In 1756 Alexander Courthope extended Sprivers House and he planted scarlet oak, Armenian walnut, white popular, acacia, willow and much sweet chestnut coppice. Many of the latter trees survive today as an avenue along the approach drive, despite extensive storm damage in this area.

An 18th-century print of the layout of the gardens shows walled and sunken gardens on three sides of the house (some of the walls and hedges were built in commemoration of a win in the Grand National). An 1810 painting shows the front face of the house with young yew hedging and a horse pond. The front courtyard was altered in 1968 as a car park.

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


The parish of Horsmonden was described by the historian Edward Hasted as ‘being a surface of continued hill and dale' and ‘much interspersed with coppice woods of oaks, especially on the west and north sides of it'. ‘Fine spreading oak trees' to the west of Horsmonden are indicated on C16 maps (Saxton, Symonson) and probably formed part of Sprivers Wood, land attached to the Manor of Sprivers (sometimes known as Sprevers or Sprevors). The Manor of Sprivers is thought to have taken its name from the Sprivers family who owned it until 1447 and probably built the first house on the site (Hasted).

Over the subsequent two hundred and fifty years Sprivers changed hands a number of times and, during the C16 and probably under the ownership of a Robert Bathurst, the house was enlarged (listed building description). A Miss Anne Holman was in occupation in 1704 and she sold the estate to a John Courthope, who made a survey of his new property (1705 estate map). The survey records a house with ponds, orchards, fields, meadow and woodland (including part of the present Sprivers Woods). Two arms of a feature resembling a moat are also shown. A later (undated) map, probably also C18, confirms that the estate, including Sprivers Wood, was some 145ha in extent and was approached by drives from the north, south, east and north-west.

John Courthope died in 1718 and the property passed to his son, Alexander, who in 1756 enlarged and restyled the house in brick and built a stable block, game larder and various outbuildings (listed building description). In the 1760s he laid out the gardens and planted many new trees including larch, American walnut, scarlet oak, acacia, oaks, ash and willow (Courthope papers). An C18 print shows 'walled and sunken gardens' and an 1810 painting shows young yew hedging around a forecourt (Kent Compendium). Sprivers estate is shown on county maps from 1769 (Andrews, Dury and Herbert; Hasted; Mudge; Greenwood) and the Tithe Map records that George Courthope owned the property in 1840 although a John Duncan was in residence.

In 1861 Sprivers was occupied by George Faithfull, curate of Horsmonden, and his family. The 1st edn OS map shows ornamental gardens, probably laid out by the Courthopes, although the property continued to be tenanted until 1881 when George Courthope's son, also George, and his family were living there (Census data). A clearing in Sprivers Wood is occupied by allotment gardens in 1881 but these are not shown on maps after 1897. In 1898 the property was unoccupied (Kellys) but by 1901 it was tenanted again. The 1908 OS map shows a new walled garden and it is recorded that in the early C20 the family ‘planted hedges and built garden walls' to commemorate a win in the Grand National (National Trust).

During World War Two the house was occupied as a military command centre and Sprivers Wood used as an ammunition dump. In 1966, Robert Courthope bequeathed the estate with approximately 44ha of land to the National Trust. Since then the gardens have been administered and largely maintained on the Trust's behalf by a resident tenant. Chilstone, the makers of garden ornaments, used the gardens as a display for its wares for twenty years and the present tenants have been in residence since 1997. The property remains in single, corporate ownership and the gardens are open to the public a few days each year.


18th Century (1701 to 1800)

Features & Designations


  • Herbaceous Border
  • Walk
  • Temple
  • Description: The temple is a recent addition to replace the 18th-century original.
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The house dates from 1440 and in fact another house of about the same date used to stand on a site to the north. In 1756 Alexander Courthope extended Sprivers House.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Orchard
  • Pond
  • Description: A duck pond next to the exit road supports many different species of wildfowl.
  • Gardens
  • Temple
  • Rose Garden
  • Walk
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)





Open to the public


Civil Parish





  • Kent Gardens Trust