2. Somerset

Tuesday 1 June 2021

The Garden of the American Museum, Claverton Manor, Bath
Elegant, Neo-classical Claverton Manor, which stands on a spectacular hilltop site overlooking the Limpley Stoke valley and the distant River Avon is home to the American Museum which was established in the late 1950s and opened in 1961. The house was designed in 1818 by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, who also remodelled Windsor Castle for George IV and Endsleigh Cottage for the Duke of Bedford. Traces of the original Italianate garden still remain today, but in 2018 the garden was redesigned by American Landscape Architects, Oehme, van Sweden, who created the New American Garden, inspired by American meadow and prairie planting of massed perennials and swathes of grasses. This garden is the only example of their work in Europe. The garden slopes gently from the house amongst borders generously filled with native American bulbs, perennials and shrubs in lavish profusion. These lead to the contrasting simplicity of a grass amphitheatre. Below lies a recreation of part of George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon.

Hanham Court, Hanham Abbots
Mr and Mrs Richard Boissevain

Hanham House Tour 2

Hanham House Tour 2


The garden at Hanham Court, was created by Isabel and Julian Bannerman, who in 1993 moved into a ruinous house surrounded by Leylandii. The house is a glorious mish-mash of every architectural period from Norman to Arts and Crafts and even has its own adjoining church. Passing through the great Tudor wooden doors is to enter a magical world with the garden hanging above the rolling limestone landscape on enormous bastion walls. There are the characteristic Bannerman architectural features of gateways, obelisks and topiaried yews, softened by billowing masses of perennials that have somehow thrived in the thin, unforgiving soil. Euphorbia wulfenii, paired with Iris pallida, paths lined with Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’, borders filled with Alliums, Eremurus , lupins, Salvias, peonies  and, everywhere, roses in abundant profusion. The house itself is swathed in Wisteria and great swags of Rosa banksia ‘Lutea’. Almost inexplicably, in 2012 the Bannermans were seduced away to create another garden at Trematon Castle in Cornwall and Hanham is now owned by Richard and Julia Boissevain, who have achieved the seemingly impossible; taking on the Bannerman’s garden and not only maintaining it quite beautifully, but adding further delights of their own.

Iford Manor, Bradford-on-Avon
Mr and Mrs Willliam Cartwright-Hignett

The first sight of Iford Manor is quintessentially English, the early 15th century bridge across the River Frome, decorated with a statue of Britannia, with the serene 1720s facade of the house in the background.  Harold Peto, an architect and garden designer, who designed the water garden at Buscot and the Irish garden at Ilnacullin, bought the house 1899 and began to develop the highly architectural garden.  Because of the slope of the hill, the garden is ideally suited to an Italianate treatment and Peto created a series of richly-planted terraces, ornamented with buildings and his fine collection of sculpture acquired during his travels in Europe. He was an admirer of William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll and their influence is felt on the planting of the garden, which has been beautifully maintained and augmented over many years by the Cartwright-Hignett family.

Ilford Manor Tour 2

Ilford Manor Tour 2

Meet at The American Museum. Lunch at Hanham Court.