Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy

Garden Visit - Chawton Open Gardens

June is a busy month here for garden designers. I have been madly finishing drawings for clients who are looking forward to their holidays and sending out quotes for projects to start in the autumn. 

There is something about the lure of an Open Garden Day for which I will drop work; the idea of being able to wander through other peoples gardens taking photos of their triumphs and successes is wonderful.  And there was tea and cakes. Morris Dancers. And the sun was shining. So off we went.

Chawton Open GArdens

I drive through Chawton in Hampshire a lot but I have always felt a bit reticent about simply parking in the village and wandering around snapping photos of houses that I like the look of. And there are many lovely houses to see in Chawton. So the chance to get out of the car and have a proper wander through this village and its gardens armed with my camera was irresistable. 

Morris Dancers

Yes, there were Morris Dancers outside the pub and stalls selling plants. There was also the chance to buy cake in either the Village Hall or the church. But for me the lure was the gardens. There were about 10 gardens open in the village, with lots of roses, clipped box and herbaceous borders with nothing to scare the traditionalists. 

Chawton Lodge

I would say that the above house is my favourite in the village. It is a good classic symetrical house completed in 1760, perhaps on the site of an earlier house. The lattice and lead porch in the front is lovely. 

Chawton Lodge

I sent the above photo of the porch at the rear of the house to my friend, architect Ian Adam-Smith, who replied with 'Very John Fowler'.  Well, as it would seem, John Fowler (of THE Colfax & Fowler, read more on him in this article from Architectural Digest) had been asked in the 1970's by the then-resident, a Miss Lowenthal (perhaps Miss Julia Lowenthal whose collections were sold in London at Christie's in 2005), for some help with the garden. John Fowler was at that point living in nearby Odiham, in a house now lived in by interior designer Nicky Haslam. (are you keeping up with this?) In any event, the garden, which is long and narrow, is divided into a series of spaces which are very clean lined and spare.

Chawton Lodge

There are lovely places to sit along the length of this garden. Benches hide under swathes of roses. Tea can be taken in this metal gazebo. 

Metal gazebo

I would love to find someone who could recreate this seat for me and my clients. 

rear garden view

We wandered up the road to Chawton House which is Elizabethan and now home to the Chawton House Library

Chawton House

The Knight family is the link between this village and it's most famous resident, Jane Austen. In 1789, Thomas Knight inherited the Chawton House but he and his wife were childless. They were cousins of the Austen family and adopted Jane's brother Edward. In 1809 he brought his mother and two sisters a home in the baliff's cottage (now Jane Austen's House Museum) and they settled in Chawton. 

graves of Jane Austen's mother and sister

Jane's mother and sister, both called Cassandra Austen, are both buried in the graveyard at Chawton church.

On the side of the hill above the house, going past the Library Terrace which was designed by Edwin Lutyens, is the Walled Garden. The first section is the rose garden which was planted in 2009. 

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Past the rose garden and through these rather gorgeous gates is the fruit and vegetable garden.





The original greenhouses of the Walled Garden no longer exist but their footprint can still be seen. 

Glass house bases

There is much grown on site, in beds edged with box hedging. And it is all guarded over by this scarecrow.


walled agrden

Looking out

I do love a walled garden...

Walled Garden

Tomorrow I have to be in Petworth for a morning appointment and I plan to go to Arundel Castle afterwards to see the garden there. I am looking forward to my day in Sussex and will report back.

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