The magnificent stately homes that decorate our country’s landscape represent a world of decadence, luxury and nobility that many of us will never know. Predominantly built between the mid- sixteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, they were the ultimate status symbol for the great families of Britain and and provided the perfect setting to entertain aristocratic, noble and esteemed guests.
The phrase stately home is a quotation from the poem The Homes of England by Felicia Hemans, which was originally published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1827.
Dreaming up inspiration at Chenies Manor Gardens
“Beautifully mellow under the trees by the church, and archaeologically a fascinating puzzle,” said architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner, of Chenies Manor House. This Grade I listed building in Buckinghamshire was built in 1480, and has records dating back to as early as 1180.
|Chenies Sunken Garden|
Beautifully mellow would be a good way to describe the gardens here, too, although they are a much more modern addition. The estate came into the possession of the MacLeod Matthews family in 1950, and they are overseeing the on-going restoration of the manor house, and the glorious re-creation of its gardens.
Much of the garden’s charm today can be attributed to the hard work of Elizabeth MacLeod Matthews, famous for her unique pairings and groupings of flowers. If you visit in mid spring, you will find a carpet of 7,000 tulips, arranged by colour: white and palest yellow in the White Garden; red, oranges and yellows in the South Border; and a single striking block colour in the Rose Garden.
In summer, there are tranquil white and silver flowers in the White Garden, a mass of scented flowering shrubs in the Rose Gardens, and an intricate yew maze in the Parterre. Such variety and thematic organization makes it clear why Chenies Manor won the Historic Houses Association and Christie’s Garden of the Year 2009 Award.
|Chenies’ Inner Garden|
It’s also why we find it such an inspiring place to visit. The imaginative colour themes and gorgeous plant associations make this a wonderfully peaceful place to relax and dream up new horticultural ideas.
The Plant and Garden Fair on 17 July might be of particular interest if you are looking to get your own garden looking just as good. Here you’ll find gardening and plant advice, pottery, sculpture, tools and accessories.
Visit the website www.cheniesmanorhouse.co.uk to find out more about this 12th-century gem.