The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Friday, May 30, 2014

Vann, an Arts and Crafts Garden in Surrey

We were fortunate to visit an Arts and Crafts style garden called Vann during the Best of English Garden Tour. Vann, a house dating back to the early 16th century and the gardens which surround it, are in Hambledon, Surrey.

The current owner and gardener is Mary Caroe, the widow of Martin Caroe, whose family has owned the house since 1907. She gave us a tour of the garden and a short lecture on the house and garden’s history.

The garden is probably best known because part of the garden was designed by Gertrude Jekyll, a friend of the original owner W.D. Caroe. W.D. Caroe was an exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement who nearly doubled the size of the house and added or renovated the outbuildings.

W.D. Caroe designed and created a pergola constructed of Bargate stone and oak beams which Mrs. Caroe believes rivals the work of the much more famous architect and Jekyll collaborator, Edwin Lutyens. The Pergola Garden is planted with a variety of euphorbias, kniphofia, hellebores and bergenias.

The Yew Walk is my favorite part of the garden. Although there is no evidence that Jekyll actually designed this section of the garden, Mrs. Caroe is certain that Jekyll gave W.D. Caroe guidance for the garden, as well as supplying the plants from her nursery in 1909. A pair of yew hedges flank a rill planted in the Jekyll style. Huge boxwood spheres add structure to the picture.

This path, made of Bargate stone, leads to the Jekyll Water Garden, a series of four pools with paths and bridges that criss-cross the stream. It is planted with woodland plants, many of which were supplied and introduced by Jekyll. Vann is a National Garden Scheme Garden (NGS Yellow Book) and is open to the public by appointment or on open days.


  1. Lovely. Another one to add to my list. We have many wonderful gardens further north in Yorkshire. Perhaps an idea for another visit?

  2. L,
    That sounds like a great idea--so may gardens so little time!

  3. I love the atmosphere of these old gardens, slightly frayed around the edges, with layers of history and striving, and the imprint of the people who made and keep them.

  4. That is exactly what this garden feels like, James.The house, garden and the talk Mrs.Caroe gives echoes from a prior age.

  5. So glad you got to Vann - it's one of my favourite English gardens.

  6. Hi Charlotte!
    It is such a excellent example of what we Americans think of an "English" garden. I use your blog as a resource for information of possible gardens to visit. You do such a wonderful job. I noticed you went to Chiffchaffs, a future post coming soon. Maybe we will cross paths in a garden one day. All the best, M

  7. The piers in the pergola are very reminiscent of those at Hestercombe. I like the look of Vann -- another name to add to a possible up-coming tour of gardens in southern England. Next year I'm taking a group to Yorkshire and southern Scotland. And as you say, too many gardens, too little time.

    1. I suggested to Michael that a trip to see the gardens of Yorkshire would be sure to please.

  8. Pat, I'm not surprised about the similarities although Mrs. Caroe believes these have just a little nicer detailing then the ones Lutyens designed. I hope you will do posts your trip! This garden is worth making an effort to see if you can. I nice human scale and feel to it.



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