National Trust purchase Munstead Wood

The National Trust has announced the purchase of Munstead Wood, the Surrey home and garden of influential plantswoman, designer and author Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932).

Munstead wood home of Gertrude Jekyll
Munstead wood home of Gertrude Jekyll

Munstead Wood is an 11-acre horticultural gem that surrounds an Arts and Crafts house showcasing Jekyll’s collaboration with architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. It is the place where, from the 1890s to her death in 1932, Jekyll grew her influence on national and international garden design, transformed horticultural practice, and inspired others to become gardeners through her books and more than 1,000 articles.

Jekyll, the first woman to be awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour – the highest award for British horticulturists. Her garden was a place of experimentation, particularly in the innovative use of colour in her planting. She designed areas to flower in different seasons and laid out a woodland garden which remains a fine example of her approach to artistic ‘wild gardening’. She also collected plants in Britain and Europe and introduced at least 30 new varieties into British gardens.

Some of Jekyll’s original planting survives at Munstead Wood, particularly in the woodland garden. The formal paths, walls and pond near the house, designed for Jekyll by Edwin Lutyens, remain intact, and Jekyll’s innovative rock garden was recently rediscovered buried under layers of garden debris.

The garden was simplified in the 1950s but subsequent owners restored Jekyll’s design and planting. A remarkable aspect of the garden is the wealth of documentary evidence in photographs, planting plans, paintings and written descriptions, capturing the appearance and the spirit of the garden and offering the archival basis of an authentic restoration.

Andy Jasper, Head of Gardens and Parklands at the National Trust, said ‘Munstead Wood is not only a rare surviving example of Jekyll’s work, it is also the garden where she developed and clearly expressed her ideas, and the birthplace of her rich collaboration with Sir Edwin Lutyens. It was the source of the planting experiments she described in her writing, the hub of her garden design and nursery business and had a huge influence on garden design and planting not just in Britain but internationally’.

Fundraising has started for the restoration of the house and garden.