Past Events

The Trust had an incredibly full calendar of events in 2018 including events commemorating the bicentenary of Humphry Repton’s death, fundraisers for the Gertrude Jekyll digitisation project, our Winter lecture series and numerous visits to historic gardens in Surrey and the surrounding counties. Highlights of the events can be found below: 


Winter Lectures 2018


Since ancient times the Persian Garden has long been associated with paradise. Katie Campbell’s beautifully illustrated lecture identified the common features of the original Persian gardens. Enclosed against the elements, watered by underground canals, planted with exotic flora from the far reaches of the continent, these spaces inspired awe and envy and also provided quiet areas of contemplation. She noted that their emphasis on colour, scent, light, shade, birdsong and space remained key features of garden designs from Persian times into Renaissance Europe and even contemporary garden designs elsewhere. Katie is a writer, garden historian, lecturer and often leads tours on architecture and gardens. Her most recent book, British Gardens in Time, accompanied the BBC television series.

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Based on her book, The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden, Kate Felus revealed the previously untold story of how landscapes were used in the 18th century. The smooth turf of the parkland provided for thrilling carriage driving in the Georgian equivalent of the Ferrari, the lake gave opportunities for fishing and boating (including mock sea battles with real canons) and eye-catchers provided places for eating and drinking, afternoon naps and illicit liaisons. Dr. Felus is a garden historian and author. She has researched and written restoration plans for a range of designed landscapes from Elizabethan water gardens to Edwardian seaside parks.

MARCH 2018

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Karen Bridgman gave an interesting presentation on her involvement in creating the American Roots exhibition at Painshill Park and discussed how plants from North America influenced British gardens in the 18th century. In 2004, Karen embarked upon recreating a Hartwell flowerbed using original sketches and plans as well as through extensive research of nursery guides available in the 1800s. Her talk focused on the selection of perennials, annuals and bulbs that were used in the project. Karen has been a professional horticulturalist for over 20 years and has been involved in numerous restoration projects in historic gardens, including Gilbert White’s home in Selborne and Horace Walpole’s garden at Strawberry Hill.

Events Celebrating Bicentenary of Humphry Repton’s Death

Breakfast and Bluebells at Hatchlands Park
Wednesday, 18 April 2018

In 1800 George Holme Sumner hired Humphry Repton to advise on improvements to the estate inherited from his father in 1791.  Repton wanted to transform 'a large red house by the side of a high road, to a Gentleman-like residence in the midst of a Park'.  In this private tour and talk with the National Trust park manager and her conservation team, we discovered Repton's vision of Hatchlands Park and the NT’s plans to conserve the park for the future.  We also had the opportunity to view a facsimile of the original Repton Red Book and admire the ancient trees that date from the Repton era.  The Trust teamed up with the National Trust to publish a Repton Trail for Hatchlands, create display boards for visitors commenting on various Repton views and print facsimile copies of the original Red Book, all with the goal of informing visitors to Hatchlands of the extraordinary vision that Humphry Repton had for this historic landscape.

repton study day at Hartsfield manor and betchworth house
Thursday, 17 May 2018

Members and guests were able to immerse themselves in the life and work of Humphry Repton and enjoy a rare visit to privately owned Betchworth House and its Repton designed landscape.  We enjoyed informative presentations from Cherrill Sands about Repton’s life and work, Martin Higgins about Betchworth and the surrounding properties during the time of Repton and Sarah Dickinson and Sheri Sticpewich on Repton's extensive proposals for Betchworth House and gardens.  After lunch on the terrace at Hartsfield Manor, we had a private tour of Betchworth House and grounds and afternoon tea with Lady Hamilton.  Lady Hamilton and her son, Robert, kindly allowed us to view the original Repton Red Book for Betchworth House as well as peruse a wonderful selection of historic documents, photographs and artwork relating to Betchworth. With their permission, we also were able to publish copies of the original Repton Red Book and these were available for sale on the day. We had glorious weather, fantastic views, interesting presentations and the kind hospitality of the Hamilton family.

Garden Visits 2018

Reel hall, shamley Green
Thursday, 21 June 2018

This is the first time that Reel Hall has been open for the Surrey Gardens Trust.  We are delighted to have been allowed access to this tranquil and elegant Arts & Crafts garden nestled in the lush, wooded landscape of the Surrey Hills.  The main part of the house dates back to the 16th century.  The house was a farm for centuries.  The garden was designed in the early 1930s by the Rooper family, who lived there throughout World War II.

There are around four acres to explore, with a stream flowing through the heart of the garden.  A small stone bridge leads to a former tennis lawn, featuring a long herbaceous border and on to an enclosed topiary garden.  A gentle climb along a rising path offers views across the valley and down over the stream.  At the top of the hill there is an apple orchard, a vegetable garden, a small wildflower meadow and extensive greenhouses. 

Our Events programme for 2017 consisted of a wide variety of educational and enjoyable activities.  Events ranged from viewing the RHS Lindley Library’s impressive collection of horticultural books and objects to exploring the beautiful vistas of Albury Park during our John Evelyn Study Day.  Highlights of the events can be found below: 

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JANuary 2017

Colin Jones, a gardener, photographer and traveller, led us on a brief and pleasurable walk through the ‘secret gardens of London’ during his lecture.  Colin described London as the greenest city in the world with 6oo public parks and gardens covering 67 square miles and the world’s greatest botanic collection at Kew. His lecture covered the history of many of these gardens including The Museum of Garden History and the secret gardens within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. Colin Jones is chairman of Sanderstead Horticultural Society, a member of the Surrey Guild of Judges and lectures in horticulture and is a listed lecturer for the RHS.

Val Bott: Patent Elms, Pineapples and Pears – Nursery Gardening in West London 1650-1800
February 2017

Val Bott discussed her research into the heyday of nursery gardening in the parishes of Chiswick, Brentford and Isleworth along the River Thames.  These garden grounds were well located for river and road transport.  This community of gardeners shared their expertise and was linked by ties of business and marriage. Many of these early nurseries were passed down through the generations and developed their own expertise in particular plants. Val Bott shares her research on the subject through She has been an independent museum consultant since 2000 and has over 25 years’ experience of managing museums and archives. She supports many heritage-related charities and in June 2014 was awarded an MBE for this work.


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Beryl Saich: A Neglected Masterpiece Rediscovered: The Work of Blanche Elizabeth Edith Henrey
March 2017

Beryl, a longstanding SGT member and accomplished researcher, was shown a beautiful, magnificent three-volume work of British Botanical and Horticultural Literature before 1800 by Blanche Elizabeth Edith Henrey (1906-1983) on one of her trips to the RHS Lindley Library.  Intrigued by their quality, Beryl researched their origins.  These volumes were a 30-year labour of love by Henrey and were first published in 1975.  She was a talented photographer and, in addition to providing the photographs for Flower Portraits and Trees and Shrubs throughout the Year, she produced calendars for Country Life with a worldwide circulation.  She also wrote No ordinary Gardener: Thomas Knowlton 1691-1781 which was published after her death.  Henrey gained the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners for her 'the superb quality of her work'.

Garden Visits and Study Days 2017

John Evelyn Study Day
Tours of Albury Park and Wotton House
April 2017

In April 2017 we hosted 80 people at a study day celebrating John Evelyn’s contribution to horticulture and the landscape, including tours of Albury Park and Wotton House.  John Evelyn (1620-1706) is remembered as a diarist and author but his influence on gardens and horticulture spans the centuries. Beryl Saich gave an illustrated and informative talk on Evelyn’s life, his influences and contributions. This was followed by a private tour of the magnificent terraces and landscape at Albury Park designed by John Evelyn for Henry Howard, who later became the Duke of Norfolk.  Albury is a rare survivor and outstanding example of a mid-17th century landscape. After lunch, we focused on the history of Wotton House and its proposed conservation and development.  Wotton House was John Evelyn’s ‘most cherished place on earth’. He loved its sense of rural seclusion, the long chalk spine of the downs, the eminence of Leith Hill. Although Wotton House is now a country house hotel, the gardens are still recognisable as those from John Evelyn’s original designs.


Barnett Hill Country House Hotel, Blackheath
June 2017

Not daunted by an overnight deluge and howling gales, we visited the beautiful gardens of Barnett Hill, built for Frank Cook in 1905 and now a country house hotel. For more than two decades, Estates Manager, Della Connelly, has expertly cared for the 26 acres of parkland, woodland and formal grounds.

A show-stopping herbaceous border runs parallel to the back of the hotel, featuring silver-leaved plants and dramatic architectural specimens including cardoons and giant thistles. The romantic pond garden enchanted us with its bold plantings of a single variety of pink scented rose Comte de Chambord in full flower, forming a backdrop to so-called ‘50p’ island borders with their annual bedding.

“A strong first impression is created by the magnificent driveway through atmospheric parkland leading up to the hotel. You get a sense of the spirit of the garden as it will have been originally conceived, with formal gardens and extensive lawns divided by neatly clipped yews near the house, and winding paths at the outer edges enticing you downhill into informal woodland full of camellias and foxgloves.”
— Anna Cade

2 Chinthurst Lodge, Wonersh
June 2017

This delightful one-acre garden has been open through the National Garden Scheme for over 20 years and lovingly expanded and maintained by its owners.  The tranquil setting, surrounded by fields and nestled close to wooded hills, belies the excitement of what is to be seen within the garden’s boundaries. The house dates back to the 1700s, but the garden has been artfully divided into individual ‘rooms’ each packed with innovative planting. Original features, such as two old wells and ancient espaliered apple trees in the kitchen garden are preserved with new ideas, many inspired by other well-known gardens, woven throughout. The new Millennium garden is peaceful with a central formal pond. By the kitchen garden, cleverly concealing the greenhouse, were two stunning blue borders filled with a combination of delphiniums, campanulas and aconitum.

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Loseley Park, Compton
July 2017

After weeks of hot temperatures, visitors relished the cooler weather while exploring the beautifully maintained gardens and house at Loseley Park through guided tours. The More-Molyneux family has owned Loseley Park since the beginning of the 16th century and our guide pointed out the fine portraits, furniture, textiles and other works of art including the magnificent panelling from Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace.  The walled garden of 2.5 acres has been divided into a number of rooms including the Rose Garden with over 1,000 rose bushes, a Flower Garden with mainly hot-coloured planting and the White Garden with its beautiful spires of foxgloves, bountiful hydrangeas and silver-foliaged plants. The Herb and Organic Vegetable Garden were delightfully arranged with interesting varieties and companion plants. Our garden guide talked about the extensive and necessary renovations to the moat and the continuing improvements to the meadowlands. From the Tithe Barn and the front of the house one was also able to appreciate the magnificent landscape of the lakes and the Surrey countryside.

RHS Lindley Library Tour, London
July 2017

The Lindley Library holds collections on art, garden design and garden history.  We saw a range of precious books including a Humphry Repton Red Book. We viewed old garden catalogues and were amazed at the range of flowers and vegetables available to gardeners in Victorian and Edwardian times.  We saw a collection of sepia photographs of pre-war gardeners and nurserymen and postcards depicting the parks, public gardens and seaside esplanades in the 1950s and 1960s, most of which no longer exist.  Finally we visited the botanical art department and saw a Florilegium from the 1700s with large paintings (similar in size to A3) of the lily family – everything from Narcissi to Hippeastrum and some of the latest botanical art added to the collection – a full size painting of Giant Hogweed – to include its roots, seeds and leaves in incredible detail.

West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, West Sussex
July 2017

Members were treated to a lovely two hour walk around the gardens exploring all the interesting and quirky features of the 90 acres of gardens and 240 acres of parkland, which have been restored and developed under the current stewardship of Jim Buckland, Sarah Wain and their gardening team.

“The highlight of a most enjoyable visit to West Dean was the Walled Garden with its magnificent flower borders, great variety of fruit and vegetables and a quite astonishing array of Victorian glasshouses, including some sunken ones of a kind not seen before.”
— David Hanson
“A garden with something for everyone; glasshouses, kitchen gardens, Victorian pleasure gardens, ancient cedars and rolling parkland that leads to the distant arboretum.”
— Jacky Metuik

The Garden Museum, Lambeth, London
July 2017

Members and their guests were delighted to have the opportunity to visit the recently refurbished Garden Museum.  Our guide discussed John Tradescent and his eclectic collection of objects, how they came to be at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, the establishment of the Garden Museum and its future aspirations for recording current day garden designers and their achievements.  We also admired the selection of watercolours on display in honour of ‘The Tradescent’s Orchard’, a 17th century volume of 66 watercolours of various fruit varieties.  This volume is one of the Bodleian Library’s most treasured possessions and had never been on loan outside Oxford before – a rare treat! 

Englefield House, Englefield, Berkshire
August 2017

The inscription on a stone staircase in the garden that reads, “If you help towards Englefield garden either in flowers or invention you shall be welcome thither”, written in a letter of 1601, demonstrates that the garden was being planned 400 years ago.  The house has remained in the Paulet family since 1635, is listed at Grade II* and the superb gardens are Grade II on the Historic Parks & Gardens Register. Head Gardener, Sue Broughton, led us on an informative tour around the immediate 9 acre garden surrounding the house. Highlights were the stone terracing with a rose swag and carefully selected planting in the front beds, the yellow and blue garden with a long stone bench seat, the white garden and some wonderful specimen trees, which included a Giant Sequoia. The views out to the countryside from the elevated gardens cut into the hillside were nothing if not spectacular.