History House

Location: Near Saffron Walden, Essex

Aspect: South/South West

Soil Type: Medium Loam over underlying clay.

Existing Features:

A walled swimming pool with old hay barns next to a clay pond which linked to parts of the old moat.

The House:

This is a charming house; A Georgian frontage hides a large, timber-framed ‘Moot Hall’ which was one of the most important buildings in the area for centuries.

Modern extensions complete the property and provide views out to the large surrounding garden.

The house sat somewhat isolated within the extensive, open grounds and one of my first tasks when planning the garden, was to link the house with the grounds.

A Garden That Frames The House

The front approach to the house was strengthened and framed by creating a formal, structured space immediately in front of the main house entrance. I used topiary and hedging to frame a view down the long front lawn to the specimen trees in the distance.

To the east, we created a new terrace, sheltered on two sides by old brick and flint walls. This linked through to the swimming pool area and allowed visitors access to the garden to sit and enjoy the sun.

Further to the east, we completely renovated the vegetable garden, installing a new greenhouse, raised beds, and fruit cages all linked by brick pathways.


Creating ‘Garden Rooms’

The house needed to link with the surrounding grounds and feel less isolated. I achieved this by creating rooms within the wider garden, including a vegetable garden with a selection of gorgeous seasonal produce, a new terrace to catch the sun, and a new approach to the house front door.

It was crucial to achieve the right balance between the history of the house and its architecture, together with the rural location and my clients’ requirements. I achieved this by carefully blending the structure and detail close to the house, gradually relaxing it and becoming more informal as the garden moved further away.

Why I Loved Working on this Design

My inspiration for the design was the house itself. It is a glorious eclectic house in a fantastic setting. I’m fascinated by history and it was my challenge to blend this history with a touch of modernity, creating a garden design which transitioned effortlessly from house to garden.

The house is very classical at the front and I let this speak for itself with a very minimal garden. The three peaks of the pitched roof inspired me to include the cone-shaped treas and the regularity of the windows was reflected in the square areas of grass. It’s these little nods of structure that I wanted to reflect in the garden, ensuring both house and garden were integrated impeccably.