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Wargrave Manor
and the Connection to Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll (1843 – 1932) lived at Wargrave Hill from 1868 to 1876 – from age 25 to 33. 

Gertrude originally trained as an artist, enrolling in the South Kensington School of Art at aged 18, although she had been interested in gardens from an early age.  When Gertrude was five, her family moved to Bramley House in Surrey and the “large garden was paradise for a small girl; her vivid childhood memories never faded and were the foundation of her later achievements”.(1) She and her sister had a long strip of ground each where they could grow what they wanted.

In 1868, Gertrude’s father inherited Wargrave Hill and moved the family there. Gertrude described ‘to my great grief’ having to leave her beloved Surrey and never grew to like Wargrave.(2) But the article also quotes Gertrude Jekyll as saying that the new garden at Wargrave “yielded rich opportunities for experiment” and in July 1871, she wrote that she was “much interested in gardens plants – always collecting”.(3)

During her time at Wargrave, Gertrude concentrated on her art, producing a steady output of paintings and drawings. She made friends with a variety of artists, including the painter George Leslie who describes the garden at Wargrave Hill:


“Her garden at Wargrave was a perfect wilderness of sweets, and old-fashioned flowers bloomed there in the greatest profusion; there were lavender hedges of marvellous growth, and the generous way she, with a lavender sickle of her own construction, reaped me an armful, I shall long remember with grateful admiration.” (4)

However, Gertrude was extremely near-sighted and because of her poor eyesight, found painting difficult so turned to designing gardens to satisfy her artistic talents. She and her mother moved to Munstead, Surrey in 1876 when her father died. It was here that Gertrude first designed and created a garden from scratch. There are diary entries about moving a ‘waggon of fruit trees from Wargrave.’(5) 

Unfortunately, the historic Ordnance Survey maps do not give much detail about the garden at Wargrave itself.  It appears from these maps that Wargrave Hill changed its name to Wargrave Manor sometime between 1910 and 1932.  

Note the house is Grade II listed (Entry no. 1155057).  It describes the house as late C18 with alterations in C19 and C20.  The garden is not listed in Desmond’s Bibliography of British Gardens.

Based on the above online research, it appears that Gertrude Jekyll did not design Wargrave Manor/Hill.  During the eight years she lived there with her family, she concentrated on her painting and also travelled a great deal.  However, it is clear that she would have planted flowers in great profusion and started to develop her signature style of mixing colours through the selection and placement of plants.  Unfortunately, as she did not grow to like Wargrave Hill, she waited until moving back to Surrey before developing her horticultural practice.

Janet Fuller

[1] From the website: [accessed on 04/01/23].

[2] From Beyond the Boots, summary for the internet at [Accessed on 04/01/23].  Gertrude kept diaries for this period although they no longer exist.

[3] Ibid, p. 7.

[4] Ibid, p. 7.

[5] Ibid, p. 11.

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