Forthampton Court, Gloucestershire: a garden spanning centuries

Looking at the characterful, rambling house surrounded by its gardens and parkland beyond you are not surprised to hear that Forthampton Court is steeped in history. It’s likely there has been some kind of dwelling on the site for 1,000 years and the present house was built in 1540 as a suitably palatial residence for the Abbots of Tewkesbury and subsequently altered in the 18th and 19th centuries The garden has evolved through centuries, wrapping itself around the house and reaching out beyond it.  The most notable influences have been from the Victorian and Edwardian eras and after the Second World War.

A Closer Look

There is still a wonderful view of the Abbey from close to the house from a double border planted with cherry trees, shrubs and perennials. The front of the house overlooks a croquet lawn with herbaceous borders on either side. Beyond the ha ha a pair of fine Wellingtonias are testament to the Victorian garden. Other characterful memories of the past are dotted around to be discovered: one gravel path terminates at a medieval tomb; elsewhere old brick walls used to house the laundry; hornbeam hedges enclose an area with an old cider press; and from the shrubbery beside the main lawn a path leads to a peaceful stretch of water close to which is a dog’s graveyard where family pets have been laid to rest since 1892.

The Victorian walled garden covers about one hectare and is quartered by tapestry hedges. One of the quarters has been divided into 16 beds (loosely following the ‘Villandry’ model) and another section is wild and full of lupins. A variety of fruit trees and ancient apple trees still bear fruit and a topiaried box dragon lurks around a wall in one corner. The glasshouse, constructed by Foster and Pearson circa 1905, was extensively restored in 2000 although further repairs are still required. The garden was first opened for the National Garden Scheme by John and Julia Yorke, now his daughter and her husband have taken over while continuity is given by Alan Gregg, their gardener of 8½ years, who maintains the balance of history and present-day development.

To find out more about the garden, click here.

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