Westbrook 4383

Godalming, England, Surrey, Waverley

Brief Description

The early-20th-century formal gardens at Westbrook were designed by Gertrude Jekyll in collaboration with the owner and architect of the house, Hugh Thackeray Turner.

History

The house was built between 1899 and 1900 and the gardens developed into the 20th century. The original layout included woodland paths to a boathouse and footbridge on the River Wey.

Terrain

The site occupies high ground overlooking the steep valley sides of the River Wey which runs from north-west to south-east to the north of the site.

Detailed Description

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 The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

An early 20th-century formal garden designed by H Thackeray Turner with Gertrude Jekyll, surrounding an Arts and Crafts house designed by H Thackeray Turner for himself.

DESCRIPTION

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

Westbrook is situated c 0.7km north-west of the town of Godalming, off Westbrook Road, and occupies high ground overlooking the steep valley sides of the River Wey which runs from north-west to south-east to the north of the site.

The site comprises c 5.5ha and is bounded to the south by Westbrook Road and the gardens of Shepherd's Cottage and Far Cottage (formerly Westbrook cottages), to the east by the entrance drive, to the north by the River Wey, and to the west by agricultural land. To the east the site is enclosed by fences, to the north by a fence on a low stone retaining wall with the river below, and to the west by timber fencing on a traditional hedge bank. To the south the kitchen gardens are enclosed by stone walls, hedges, and fencing. There are views from the upper parts of the site across the valley to the east and north, with the towers of Charterhouse School prominent in northerly views. To the north of the gardens is an area of mixed woodland on the steep slope down to the river.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

The site is approached from a gently curving drive leading north from Westbrook Road, which rises steeply to the house situated some 200m to the north-north-west. The southern section of the drive is sunken and bounded on both sides by terraced stone retaining walls with planting shelves and pockets. After c 50m, at a bend in the drive there is a quarry cut into the hillside to the west; this is believed to have been the source of building stone for the house and gardens. A further c 20m beyond, stone steps lead west up to the 'Twitten' or path to the kitchen garden. The retaining walls of the drive give way to a planted bank which conceals the house; some mature yews on the bank appear to predate the house. Towards the top of the hill, the eastern verge broadens to give views between mature trees north across the valley of the River Wey, with the stone wall of the garden to the west. After c 160m the drive sweeps round to the west to reach a forecourt to the north of the house. The stable yard and stable block are to the east of the forecourt yard and there is a view south along the north/south axis through the eastern kitchen garden. There is a mid or late C20 garage to the north. The west side of the forecourt is bounded by a c 2.5m high stone wall with a tiled coping running north to south, with a hipped tiled roof to the south, below which is the gate leading to the garden and a verandah or loggia on the west side adjoining the north-west corner of the house.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING

Westbrook (listed grade II*) is a large two-storey plus attic Bargate rubble-stone house with steep plain tile roofs designed by and built for H Thackeray Turner in 1899¿1900 in the Arts and Crafts style. There is an adjoining range of single-storey stone and tile outbuildings around the stable yard to the east. In the later C20 the house was divided into flats but is now (2003) being restored as a single family house. Thackeray Turner was an important architectural theorist and Westbrook is his major built work.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

The formal gardens lie to the south and west of the house and are arranged around strong north/south and east/west axes. The gardens are entered by the door in the garden wall running north from the north-west corner of the house. This leads onto a west-facing terrace walk overlooking a grass sunk garden c 10m x 20m, with low stone retaining wall, stone steps, and planting beds.

Some 35m to the west of the house an arched opening through a circular yew hedge c 2-2.5m high and c 40m diameter leads down three flights of stone steps into the Sunk Garden. The Sunk Garden is arranged in concentric, gently sloping stone-edged terraces with a raised octagonal stone lily tank in the centre. There are grass paths leading from the central tank to similar openings through the yew hedge to east, south, and west. These paths are flanked by clipped Irish yew and golden juniper. Planting beds on the top terrace and the lower part of the middle terrace remain. The Sunk Garden was laid out to a scheme by Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) and was illustrated in Gardens for Small Country Houses (1913).

To the north-east of the Sunk Garden there is a lawned area, formerly the rose garden, of which nothing remains above ground. Some banks may mark the line of the former east to west grass path. In the north-east corner of the garden is a stone and tiled shelter for a seat facing south-west. Immediately to the west of the shelter is a path leading down to a terrace walk along the northern boundary of the garden, bounded by a low retaining wall and fence to the south and with views over woodland on the steep sides of the Wey valley to the north. In the centre of the retaining wall is a south-facing stone and brick covered seat structure, of at least two phases of C20 construction. These areas are part of Thackeray Turner's design.

The western entrance to the Sunk Garden leads to a narrow sunken path, edged in drystone retaining walls, which leads west and then north c 10m, widening into a roughly semicircular space before two semicircular-headed brick and stone arches which lead into the sunken Winter Garden. This is an irregular octagonal walled enclosure c 10m x 10m, some 1m below ground level. The lower part of the wall is in unpointed drystone construction. The paving, originally brick, is random stone with perimeter planting beds. On the south-facing wall is a recess for a seat, with a brick arch and tiled roof. The Winter Garden was also laid out to a scheme by Jekyll and illustrated in Gardens for Small Country Houses.

From the path to the Winter Garden, four stone steps lead up to a lawn running along the western boundary of the gardens. Slight changes in level suggest the location of previous paths in this area. Further south is a tennis court, now (2003) grassed over, on the site of the former orchard. To the east of this is part of the shrubbery which once enclosed a circular lawn. There are mature trees including a holm oak and mulberry.

To the south of the lawn, tennis court, and shrubbery, a substantial stone wall runs east to west forming the northern boundary of one range of kitchen gardens. The wall is over 2m high and is punctuated with square piers set at 45 degrees to the wall. In the south-west corner steps lead up to a small viewing platform. Some 35m further east along this wall, in line with the main north/south axis through the Sunk Garden, is a covered seat recess set between angled piers with a single pitched tiled roof.

The south front of the house overlooks a stone terrace running the length of the building. The terrace, part paved and part grass, is on two levels linked by stone steps and is enclosed by stone walls and stone planting beds. A walk extends east from the terrace, terminating in a small raised stone terrace. South of the house and terrace is a lawn, bordered on the west side by a pleached lime walk with a stone-flagged path. The view south along the lime walk extends through a later C20 metal gate to a long grass walk enclosed with beech hedges, previously planted with China roses. A stone wall runs along the eastern boundary of the south lawn and at its centre is a stone-built summerhouse, with openings to east and west elevations and a steep tiled roof. At the southern end of this wall is a wide brick and stone arch leading to the eastern range of kitchen gardens. The gardens to south and south-west of the house appear to have been laid out to the design of Thackeray Turner between 1900 and 1916.

KITCHEN GARDENS

There are two areas of kitchen gardens which are part of the original layout, one to the south of the formal gardens and lawn and one to the east of the main south lawn.

A gate in the wall in the south-west corner of the pleasure gardens leads to the southern kitchen garden. The northern section is a walled enclosure, with an archway in the centre of the south side leading to an avenue of fruit trees. The kitchen garden is now largely grass and is used (2003) as a garden to one of the cottages on Westbrook Road.

The wide stone arch in the wall bounding the east side of the main south lawn leads to the eastern kitchen garden. There are walls and stone-edged and retained borders to the south and west of the garden. The western part of the garden is (2003) a tennis court, the eastern part a lawn. The central path forming an axis running north to the stable yard and its entrance from the approach drive remains, with stone edging and a stone-edged border on its western side. South of this kitchen garden is the orchard with standard fruit trees and the 'toy cottage', a small summerhouse on Westbrook Road. There is a timber barn enclosing the garden yard to the north of the kitchen garden and east of the house.

OTHER LAND

To the north of the gardens is an area of mixed woodland on the steep slope down to the River Wey; the woodland is managed as coppice. There are paths through the woodland which formerly led to a boathouse and a footbridge over the river. These features formed part of Thackeray Turner's early C20 scheme. Further to the east is a lime avenue planted by Thackeray Turner before 1916 to obscure the view of the tannery at Westbrook Mill, east of the site. The avenue runs along a field boundary north from Westbrook Road, c 200m east of the drive to Westbrook house.

REFERENCES

Country Life, 31 (20 January 1912), pp 92-6; 38 (24 July 1915), pp 119-21

G Jekyll and L Weaver, Gardens for Small Country Houses (1913), pp 27-35

I Nairn and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Surrey (2nd edition 1970), pp 259-60

Historic Building Appraisal of Westbrook, (Conservation Architecture and Planning 2002) [copy on EH file]

Maps

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1870, published 1872; 2nd edition revised 1895, published 1897; 1912 special edition; 3rd edition revised 1913, published 1916; 1934 edition

Archival items

G Jekyll, Notebooks (Godalming Museum)

Description written: April 2003

Amended: May 2003

Edited: January 2005

Features

Style

  • Arts And Crafts
  • Tree Feature
  • Description: Lime avenue planted by H. Thackeray Turner.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • River
  • Description: River Wey.
  • Boundary Fence
  • Description: To the east the site is enclosed by fences.
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The kitchen gardens are enclosed by stone walls, hedges, and fencing.
  • Country House (featured building)
  • Description: The house replaced an earlier building which had been the Meath Home for Epileptic Women and Girls between 1872 and 1897.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
History

Detailed History

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 The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

The site of Westbrook was arable land until the construction of the house. The 1st (1872) and 2nd (1897) editions of the OS 25" map show a single field north of Westbrook Road, probably part of the Westbrook estate. The original house of Westbrook, some 340 metres east of the site, became the Meath Home for Epileptic Women and Girls between 1872 and 1897. Other pre-existing features were the quarry south of the site, and the woodland to the north between the field and the River Wey, with a track running parallel to the river about half way up the valley side. Thackeray Turner's house of Westbrook was built on this field in 1899-1900 and the gardens continued to be developed into the 20th century. The house was first shown on the OS map of 1912 but with no indication of garden layout. The 1916 edition shows the garden layout and also a boathouse and footbridge on the river to the north-east. By 1934 a tennis court had been made on the site of the orchard. The site has passed through several hands during the 20th century; the house was subdivided in the mid-20th century but has since returned to single family use and remains in private ownership today (2003), with the site being in divided private ownership.

Period

  • Early 20th Century (1901-1932)
Associated People

People associated to Westbrook

Contact
References

References