Ulcombe Place DO NOT PUBLISH NO PERMISSION 4937

Maidstone, England, Kent, Maidstone

Brief Description

This informal, plantsman's garden was probably laid out in the Victorian period (1837-1901). The house may date back to the 13th century, but was radically altered to Georgian style. Features include a rose garden, woodland garden, walled garden, sundial, glasshouses and several specimen trees. The site was badly affected by the 1987 storm.Although not generally open to the public, there are occasional open days under the National Gardens Scheme, and arrangements may be made to view by appointment.

History

The earliest record of the garden dates to 1906, but it is likely to have been laid out some time in the 19th century.

Terrain

Southern slope

Detailed Description

There is a formal round bed as centrepiece to a circular drive to the main door of the house. It has a large decorated Florentine pot on the central plinth. All other parts of the garden are of informal design and planting.

The owner is interested in the use of what he terms ‘the adventitious weed', so honesty, Verbascum candelabrum, caper spurge and similar are allowed to spread unaided in various parts of the garden.

The late-Victorian veranda gives an interesting flavour of Regency style to the Georgian house. A flower garden laid out on the south and south-east side of the house and linked to rooms by a veranda with trellis or rustic supports supporting climbers was typical of Regency taste. Open French windows would allow the scents from the garden to waft into the drawing room or library.

The garden at Ulcombe Place has undergone much renovation and replenishment since the present owners inherited it in 1971. Many interesting trees and shrubs have been planted and parts of the garden have been converted for easier maintenance. It is a garden that gives much pleasure to both owners and visitors.

The garden was very badly hit by the storm of 1987. Many large trees were lost, especially to the north and north-east of the house. The clearance has left a sizeable area adjacent to the house and driveway as rough ground. A plan has been drawn up fro re-planting with trees and shrubs. This was under consideration at the time of the last survey (1989).

The owner stressed that the whole project was entirely a consequence of the storm, and that no re-styling was envisaged previously. The opportunity to re-develop was not entirely unwelcome, and the increased sunlight reaching the area has enhanced much of the eastern garden.

The garden to the south of the house overlooking the low weald did not suffer such serious damage. A fine copper beech and many old flowering trees survive (magnolias and lilacs). Part of the south-sloping lawn next to the house was levelled and re-turfed in 1988. Some time earlier in the century a border along the south boundary was made up to take rhododendrons, azaleas and a variety of calcifuge plants. Acidity has been maintained and the planting has been extended to maximise interest.

This is a plantsman's garden. Generally, the owners' aim in re-planting the old borders has been to heighten horticultural interest by using less usual plants and plants chosen for colour of flower and leaf. Borders are colourful and splashes of strong colour integrate with cooler grey-leaved and variegated shrubs.

Features

Style

  • Informal
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: A radical alteration was done in the 18th century so the house today is Georgian in style.
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  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: Fagus sylvatica cuprea, two Magnolia soulangeana, Cedrus atlantica, Juglans regia, Liriodendron tulipifera, two Cryptomeria japonica, Clerodendron fargesii, Salix tortuosa, two Sophora japonica, Eucryphia, Liquidamber styraciflua, Ginkgo biloba, Koelreuteria paniculata, Cercis siliquastrum, Liriodendron tulipifera aureo-marginata.
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  • Planting
  • Description: Rare plants include Fendlera wrightii, Cestrum elegans, Solanum crispum and Jasminium fruticans.
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  • Wall
  • Description: Low rock wall.
  • Planting
  • Description: Naturalised bulbs.
  • Glasshouse
  • Description: There are two glasshouses.
  • Hedge
  • Description: Beech hedges
  • Planting
  • Description: Herb garden.
  • Planting
  • Description: Old fruit garden.
  • Pool
  • Description: Swimming pool.
  • Flower Bed
  • Description: Formal circular bed at the front entrance.
  • Planting
  • Description: Woodland garden.
  • Garden Wall
  • Description: Walled garden.
  • Urn
  • Description: Florentine urn in circular flower bed.
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Herbaceous Border, Lawn, Rose Garden, Sundial, Statue
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Ulcombe
History

Detailed History

The house is thought to have been a priory connected to Ulcombe Church, set up by Archbishop Stephen Langton in the reign of King John (13th century). The date is given as 1215. It was owned by the St. Leger family through Tudor times. A radical alteration was done in the 18th century so the house today is Georgian in style. The Reverend Theodore Butler possibly added the veranda in late-Victorian or Edwardian times. The current owners have a picture dated 1906 showing the veranda and the pink chestnut.

From 1965, only basic maintenance was undertaken in the garden. From 1972, the present owners took the garden in hand, planting trees and simplifying some of the flower beds.

As a result of the 1987 storm, considerable clearing, re-development and planting was undertaken. At the time of the last survey (1989) a plan had been drawn up and was being considered for re-development to the side of the house. The plans were drawn by Mr. Green, Greenacre Landscapes, Brenchley.

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