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Waterston Manor


Waterston Manor has early-20th-century formal gardens of around two hectares. Features include a sundial, a stone-edged canal and an orchard. Early-C20 formal gardens at Waterston Manor, designed by Percy Morley Horder for Captain G V Carter.


Waterston Manor lies on level ground, with a slight slope down to the river Piddle.

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 National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Waterston Manor stands c 1km north-north-west of Puddletown. The c 3ha site is bounded to the north by the River Piddle or Trent, while the southern boundary is formed by the B3142 Waterston Lane, from which the site is separated by walls and hedges. To the east the site adjoins domestic premises in Lower Waterston, and to the west it is bounded by water meadows. The site is generally level, with a slight slope north towards the River Piddle. The gardens are generally enclosed with few outward views other than those to agricultural land to the north of the River Piddle.

Entrances and Approaches

Waterston Manor is approached from the B3142 Waterston Lane to the south, at a point c 1km west of the junction of this road and Gaddy's Lane. The entrance is marked by a pair of early-C20 brick piers (listed Grade II) with recessed panels on their south faces, and are surmounted by carved stone urns. A gravelled drive extends c 50m north-north-east from the entrance between narrow grass verges. To the east the drive is enclosed by an C18 banded flint and brick wall, while to the west an early-C20 brick wall screens the stable yard (both listed Grade II).

The drive passes through the early-C20 gatehouse (listed Grade II), a gabled archway formed by Morley Horder from the eastern end of a range of C18 farm buildings and cottages (listed Grade II) which extend along the northern side of the stable yard. The gatehouse archway is closed by early-C20 wrought-iron gates which lead to the carriage court to the west of the house. The gatehouse recalls Morley Horder's slightly later work at Radway Grange, Warwickshire (qv).

The square gravelled carriage turn is adjoined to the north by a service court, and to the south by borders of ornamental shrubs. To the west, a screen of simple, square panel trellis, similar to that shown in 1916 (Country Life) separates the carriage court from the kitchen garden. The entrance formed by Morley Horder for Captain Carter replaced an earlier entrance and drive which was situated c 20m east. A straight drive led from the road to a circular carriage turn beneath the south façade of the house. In creating the new approach, Morley Horder rationalised existing farm buildings to the south-west of the house, demolishing a range which extended parallel to the road, and a further building which extended on the site of the new drive (OS, 1901).

Principal Building

Waterston Manor (listed Grade I) stands on a level site c 40m south of the River Piddle, in the western third of the site. It is constructed in a variety of materials, including flint banding, brick, ashlar and roughcast, and comprises two storeys and an attic under tiled roofs, some of which have ornamental fish-scale patterns. The south façade, which until the early C20 was the entrance front, is built in brick with burnt headers arranged in diamond patterns; the upper sections of the walls are roughcast. A segmental central bay has a single-storey stone and flint porch ornamented with Tuscan pilasters and an entablature. The central bay is surmounted by a balustrade and is flanked by high gables.

The east or garden façade is relatively plain, with a gabled block to the north, and an off-centre gabled bay ornamented with a full-height ashlar frontispiece. Perhaps brought-in from elsewhere (List entry), this early Renaissance feature is dated 1586 and comprises a round-arched doorway flanked by niches and Tuscan columns, above which are placed further niches with statutes and Ionic columns flanking a mullioned window, the mullions of which are formed by further Ionic columns. The top stage of the frontispiece comprises a round-arched niche surmounted by a round window beneath a pediment supported by a pair of rampant lions.

The west façade, since the early C20 the entrance front, has a recessed central section flanked by gabled wings, that to the north incorporating a square bay surmounted by balustrades. The house appears to have been constructed in the late C16 by Thomas Howard, later third Lord Howard of Bindon, perhaps extending and improving an existing building. Extensive repairs and additions were made following a serious fire in 1863, and the house assumed its present form c 1911 when Percy Morley Horder was commissioned by Captain Carter to remove some of the C19 additions and enhance the surviving original elements of the house (CL, 1916; Oswald, 1959).

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

The early-C20 formal gardens are situated to the south, east and north-east of the house. A stone-flagged terrace extends below the east façade of the house, beyond which extends the principal formal garden compartment. Level lawns lead away from the house, while on axis with the late-C16 frontispiece which forms the principal feature of the east façade; a stone-edged rill extends c 50m east-south-east across the lawn. The western end of the rill, adjacent to the terrace, is framed by a pair of massive topiary yews, while to the south-east it is aligned on a mature copper beech tree which stands on a walkway approached by a flight of stone steps on the farther side of the tennis lawn. The rill comprises a narrow water channel edged with stone flags, with a similarly edged elliptical pool at its midpoint.

Early-C20 photographs and a plan published by Country Life (1916) indicate that the rill garden has been simplified during the C20: photographs indicate that as laid out, Morley Horder's rill was flanked by narrow flower borders, with further stone-flagged walks and flower borders beyond, all enclosed from the surrounding lawns by yew hedges. The tennis lawn to the east of the rill garden similarly appears to have been separated from the house and rill garden by yew hedges, allowing only a narrow through vista to the beech tree (CL, 1916). Morley Horder laid out the east lawn on the site of an area which may have been lawn in the late C19 and a small enclosed orchard (OS, 1901).

The southern end of the east terrace is terminated by an archway set in a stone wall, which leads to an enclosed formal garden to the south of the house. This approximately square enclosure is separated from the drive to the west by the C18 wall of banded brick and flint (listed Grade II), and is overlooked from the west by an arcaded loggia formed in the eastern façade of the gatehouse. To the east and south the garden is enclosed by yew hedges, while an opening to the south leads to a wide grass glade terminated to the south by early-C20 wrought-iron gates.

The garden below the south façade of the house is adjoined to the east and west by slightly raised grass terraces, each approached by a flight of stone steps flanked by mature Irish yews. The garden itself is now (early C21) laid to grass with a central baluster sundial. This represents a considerable simplification of Morley Horder's original scheme which was illustrated by Country Life (1916), and which comprised a formal rose garden with geometrical beds separated by crazy-paved stone walks. The present sundial does not appear to correspond to the one shown in 1916 (CL). Morley Horder's rose garden was constructed on the site of the C19 carriage turn, while the glade to the south follows the line of the C19 drive (OS, 1901).

The northern side of the east lawn is enclosed by the lime walk, a gravel walk flanked on each side by pleached limes. The yew hedge indicated to the south of the lime walk on the early-C20 garden plan (CL, 1916) does not survive. Beyond the lime walk is a further formal flower garden, with geometrical borders separated by crazy-paved stone walks. A central circular border has as its focal point a simple stone shaft supporting a sundial. Although not illustrated by Country Life, this garden corresponds to an enclosure marked on the 1916 garden plan, and clearly formed part of Morley Horder's garden scheme for Captain Carter.

Kitchen Garden

The early-C20 kitchen garden is situated to the west of the house, immediately beyond the carriage court. Irregular-shaped on plan, the garden is partly enclosed to the north and west by roughcast walls, while to the south it is enclosed by further walls and the north façade of the cottage to the north of the stable court. A wide grass walk extends west from the carriage court, flanked on each side by espalier fruit trees. Today (early C21) the garden retains some standard fruit trees and late-C20 ornamental shrubs and herbaceous planting.

A late-C20 kitchen garden has been constructed to the north of the house and the River Piddle. This garden is enclosed by roughcast walls with tile coping. Entered through simple timber doors, the garden has a central crazy-paved stone walk flanked by large planting beds. An area of orchard comprising standard fruit trees set in grass extends to the east of the belt of shrubbery which forms the eastern side of the tennis lawn. The orchard was retained by Morley Horder from the domestic landscape associated with the late-C19 tenanted farm (OS, 1901).

Reasons for Designation

Waterston Manor is included on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

  • Representative example: it is a good and mostly intact example of formal Edwardian gardens and a detached kitchen garden;
  • Documentation and influence: the site is well documented and, as evident from contemporary articles, the qualities of its design and planting scheme were well respected.


  • OS 6" to 1 mile: second edition - Date: 1902
  • OS 25" to 1 mile: second edition - Date: 1902

Additional References

  • Early-C20 garden plan, published in Country Life (12 February 1916), pp 209
  • Early-C20 photographs of Morley Horder's formal gardens, published in Country Life (12 February 1916)
Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

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 National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

14th - 16th Century

Lower Waterston, a manor and hamlet in the village of Puddletown, belonged to the Martyn family until 1377, when they made Athelhampton, Dorset (qv) their principal residence. Waterston subsequently passed to the Govis family, and thence to the Newburghs and the Marneys. Sir John Marney, of Layer Marney, Essex (qv), who acquired Waterston by marriage with the Newburghs' heiress, died in 1526 leaving two daughters, one of whom inherited Waterston and was married to Thomas Howard, second son of the third Duke of Norfolk (created Viscount Howard of Bindon in 1559). Lord Howard of Bindon began to build Lulworth Castle, Dorset (qv) in 1588, and Waterston appears to have been given to his second son, Thomas, who enlarged and improved an existing house (Oswald, 1959).

In 1590, Thomas Howard's elder brother died, and he succeeded to the Lulworth estate as third Lord Howard of Bindon.

17th Century

In 1602, Lord Howard sold his Dorset estates to his kinsman, the Earl of Suffolk, who in 1641 sold Waterston to Sir John Strangways of Melbury, Dorset (qv).

18th - 19th Century

The Strangways and Fox Strangways family (created Earls of IIchester, 1756) had their principal residences elsewhere, but when Waterston was seriously damaged by fire in 1863, the fifth Earl of IIchester repaired and extended the manor house.

20th Century

The property continued to belong to the Earls of IIchester until it was sold c 1911 to Captain Gerald V Carter. Captain Carter commissioned the architect Percy Morley Horder (1870-1944) to undertake a thorough restoration of the house which had been used as a tenanted farm, and to lay out gardens alongside. This work was completed by 1916 when the house and gardens were described and illustrated in Country Life. Waterston was sold by Captain Carter in 1936 to Colonel H W Woodall.

21st Century

The property has subsequently changed hands several times, and remains in private ownership in the early C21. Waterston Manor was known to Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), who used it as the model for Weatherbury in 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (1874).


  • 20th Century (1901 to 1932)
  • Early 20th Century (1901 to 1932)
Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD1716
  • Grade: II


  • Sundial
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: Four mature Irish yews.
  • Lawn
  • Description: An extensive lawn.
  • Canal
  • Description: A stone-edged pool or canal aligned on the east front of the house.
  • Steps
  • Description: The axis from the canal leads to a flight of steps.
  • Walk
  • Description: Lime walk.
  • River
  • Description: The river Piddle flows west-east along the northern side of the gardens.
  • Orchard
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Manor House (featured building)
  • Description: Waterston Manor was built in the early 17th century, and largely rebuilt in 1864 for the 5th Earl of Ilchester after a fire in 1863.
  • Topiary
  • Gatehouse
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Stable Block
  • Description: Stables of late 18th/early 19th century date lie 50 metres south-west of the house.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Gate Piers
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Drive
  • Description: An approach drive flanked by garden walls leading north to the gatehouse.
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


20th Century (1901 to 1932)





Open to the public


Civil Parish