Chilworth Manor: An English Jewel

Hidden away in the Surrey Hills, this English jewel has ancient origins dating back to William the Conqueror. Its gardens were later shaped by two impressive women; Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough in the early 18th century and Daphne, Lady Heald in the 20th century.  Today, much of the garden retains reference to the Duchess who bought the manor in 1725 and immediately doubled its size by adding a glorious, Georgian wing. Learn more about Chilworth Manor and its garden as Head Gardener, John Macrae Brown takes us on a virtual visit:

More about Chilworth Manor

The Duchess of Marlborough’s legacy continues in the steeply terraced walled garden, known as the Duchess’s Garden, which skilfully links the house and garden with the rising landscape beyond. Today’s owners have planted the different levels of the terrace with box parterre, clipped box balls and luxurious borders filled with penstemons. Some old apple trees have been retained and now alternate with climbing roses and rows of quince trees. Standard white wisteria is spectacular in May and the new addition of a row of Irish yews now alternates with four Magnolia grandiflora along the far wall. The low planting and tiered symmetry ensures that the house, garden and landscape remain uncluttered and as striking as in centuries past.


The subtle planting of the formal gardens is complemented by wilder areas; the two ancient stew ponds (originally used to store live fish) are fed by the local river and now provide irrigation for the garden. Stepping stones lead you across one pond to secluded woodland and a secretive woodland walk beyond.

The history of Chilworth Manor is deeply entwined with the National Garden Scheme. The gardens were first opened in 1933 by Alfred Mildmay. From 1946 the garden owners were Lionel and Daphne Heald (Sir Lionel and Lady Daphne Heald from 1951) who opened for 58 years up until 2003. From 1951 to 1979 Lady Heald was also Chairman of the National Garden Scheme, steering the charity through its period of major growth and setting it up to become an independent charity in 1980. The current owners Mia and Graham Wrigley first opened in 2008 and so this would have been their 13th year of opening until coronavirus intervened.


You can explore this magical garden when it opens for the National Garden Scheme. For more details click here

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