Surrey Arts and Crafts Garden Design
Surrey has a wide array of spectacular garden designs dating back centuries, right up to present day. The Arts and Crafts movement was responsible for a number of these, with local designers, artists and architects all working together bringing garden and home as one magnificent entity. Creative duo, Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll were renowned for their architectural landscape garden designs, notably those designed in Surrey itself.
The Arts and Crafts movement emerged in the 1870s, borne as a reaction against the industrial age. Simplicity and honest design were fundamental, taking inspiration from nature and using natural local materials wherever possible. The movement offered a fresh take on the heavy furnishings, dark sumptuous interiors of the Victorian age. Interiors welcomed in light with a blend of soft pleasing colours with artistic interiors and textiles, the concept of ‘house beautiful’ was born.
Gardens designed by Arts and Crafts designers harmonised home and garden as one. Similar to the interior, soft gentle colour schemes were used throughout. Emulating the rural countryside, multitudes of magnificent scented lilies, roses and orchards were planted with manicured topiary being an essential part of Arts and Crafts garden design. Keen to use local materials of the region reflecting the crafty passion of the era, architectural features, such as garden houses, dovecotes, and pergolas were constructed.
William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, commissioned, created and lived in ‘The Red House’ in Bexleyheath, Kent. Partnering with friend and architect Philip Webb, the house was aptly named after the exposed red brick and tiled exterior. Morris very much considered the garden inseparable from the house, therefore laying out the garden whilst the house was being built. Drawing inspiration from medieval and Tudor gardens, he gave the garden an informal homely design rather than one of Victorian display. The garden was filled with scented roses, honeysuckle and lavender and an ornamental trellis divided parts of the garden. This trellis inspired Morris to create his very first wallpaper pattern, ‘Trellis’ in 1862.
Here in Surrey, architect Edwin Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll formed a creative partnership. Lutyens, well known for many Surrey houses built from local bargate stone gave new definition to the concept of vernacular, whilst Jekyll’s artistic stunning garden design brought radiance and ingenious colour techniques to gardens. Gertrude Jekyll owned the gardens at Munstead Woods and asked friend and architect Lutyens to help build a home to unite garden and home as one. Construction began in 1895. It was very much a joint project with Lutyens using his technical knowledge and Jekyll ensuring character and proportions were equally applied to both home and garden. Lutyens clever geometry of brickwork and stonework combined with Jekyll’s vast gradations of colour, fully embraced the Arts and Crafts movement. Jekyll’s main border at Munstead Wood, including some of her other garden designs and planting schemes, were designed to create a sequence from blood-red in the centre, to golden yellow, to lemon yellow, to the white of the moon and to the pale blue of the sky.
A few years later in 1898, Edwin Lutyens collaborated with Gertrude Jekyll once more creating another Arts and Crafts masterpiece at Goddards in Abinger Common, Surrey. Designed in Lutyens traditional style, it showcased his mastery of local Surrey materials and is considered one of his most important early designs. The influence of Gertrude Jekyll and her enthusiasm for the local vernacular architecture, which she shared with Lutyens, can be strongly felt at Goddards where she planted the courtyard garden.
Great Tangley Manor near Guildford was redesigned and extended by Arts and Crafts architect Philip Webb in 1886. Webb’s designs evoked the old in detailing, innovative in planning whilst reflecting his passion for traditional building and local materials. Eight years later, he returned to add a stone library wing, the garden architecture included a timber roofed bridge over the moat and a rustic pergola. The flower borders within the ancient enclosure were filled with a beautiful mixture of lilies, irises and larkspur. His improvements were highly admired by local resident Gertrude Jekyll, who had known the house in its former overgrown and dilapidated state. Webb’s architectural builds went on to have a huge influence on country house designs in the UK.
One of the finest Arts and Crafts gardens in Europe can be found at Great Fosters Hotel Garden in Egham. Nestled within fifty acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and parkland, originally designed by WH Romaine Walker and Gilbert Jenkins, the garden design reflects the intricate beauty of a Persian rug. Framed on three sides by a Saxon moat, the main formal gardens were laid out in the 1920s with a knot garden adorning fragrant beds of flowers and herbs bordered by manicured hedges and topiary. A Drake Sundial dating back to 1589 is located at the centre of the gardens, owned by the descendants of Sir Francis Drake. The garden has since been extended, restored and enhanced with stunning features including a turf amphitheatre cut into the hill side, rose garden with sunken lily pond, lake, glasshouse, lawns and secret gardens. It is well worth a visit to get a true feeling for this wondrous Arts and Crafts movement which we have to thank today for some stunning garden designs.