To the Manor born?

The grounds looking up to the Manor, dusted in snow

As those of you who have been following my adventures for a while will know I went through a bumpy patch at the end of last year. I’m not going to dwell on all that now but I’ve been keeping what I am doing pretty quiet. For me this is no mean feat! I don’t think I’ve ever kept a secret about my overshared life for so long…. Ever!

I was offered the opportunity to look around the gardens and meet the team at Hampton Manor last December and oh my god, what an amazing experience I had. I’d be the first to admit I’m unused to the ‘High Life’ and having a meal served with more than 3 courses is not something I’m familiarwith but I was about to be given a treat that I find almost indescribable in its opulence.

I was given one of the garden rooms at Grace and Savour, the newly appointed Michelin star restaurant. One of two restaurants onsite, the other being Smoke, which is very different but served by equally passionate, committed staff.

The winter garden with its grasses and prairie planting style

I’m not going to even try to describe the food as there are far more qualified foodie bloggers who have done a far better job than I could ever hope to achieve. It was absolutely stunning and a real eye opener to me, a lifelong heathen. As was the very carefully chosen decorations in this modern building that is strangely in keeping with its historic setting.

The walled garden in spring sunshine

And about that, here’s a quick potted history!

Wonderful architectural features abound!

Built by Frederick Peel on the estate he inherited from his father Robert Peel in 1850, Hampton manor is a magnificent, enormous, neogothic mansion, with Pugin tiles, huge vaulted ceilings, stained glass and stone archways. Perfect for an influential liberal MP of the 1800’s to potter about in. His gardener Godfrey, who is mentioned in Arther Markham Nesfields notes from the 1870’s is possibly Godfrey Hirst, son of a farmer from Longdon Hall in Knowle. This is of course just guesswork on my part.

A marriage of old and new sit comfortably side by side
Huge Sequoias in the woodland

Frederick seems to have taken a keen interest in how the gardens were laid out and is credited with introducing “Many different foreign trees in his 56 years of residence”. The wider estate still has many Cedars (doicus, atlantica, libani), at least 10 Sequoiadendrons, many tall Scots pines, 2 original Araucaria (monkey puzzle) and a few new ones. Not to mention countless original Rhododendrons and 2 large Magnolias (which I will be adding to as our chefs like to use the flowers!)

Richard Norman Shaws signature design was a Sunflower and can be seen everywhere throughout the village of Hampton in Arden
Magnolia soulangea in the cottage garden

He also employed Eden Nesfield and his colleague Richard Norman shaw to renovate/build many other buildings within the village/ estate including the stunning clock tower which a masterpiece of folly having no purpose other than ornament. I came across an excellent blog post about this duo and their work, well worth a read “Less Eminent Victorians”

This is of course a huge estate, 45 acres, much of which is woodland than needs gentle curation rather than a huge makeover. It is nonetheless an exciting prospect. One of the loveliest historical features is actually in the pasture lands that the estate owners family graze their horses on. Seen below clearly is the ridge and furrow marks from medieval farming.

Ridge and Furrow

For the next few months I will be concentrating all my efforts into getting the Glasshouses, walled garden, Garden rooms and Cottage garden knocked into shape. A lot of the hard work has already been done by the previous HG, sadly his health prevented him from continuing, and fine work it is. All I need to do is fine tune and bring my eye for detail into things.

The estate team who do a lot of the maintenance, tree work and grass have been turning their hands to a bit of building this last week. The lads have dug out an area ready for paving by the tomato house and they’ll be building a raised bed ready for herbs for Savours kitchens.

The Glasshouses as a winter wonderland. Tomato house foreground
Deep discussions on how to proceed!

Since I joined one of the jobs I’ve done is to take the vine house in hand, sadly a lot of the tender perennials didn’t make it


Grapes were hard pruned and everything removed off the beds, the pink Rosemary and French Lavender was planted.

Last week I tackled one of the soft fruit beds, it was slightly confusing. I put in 2 clear lines for the Raspberries and tied them in. weeded and tickled the soil where I’d walked then put down a wool mulch to retain water and supress weeds. The 2 rows either side were suplemented with runners and hopefully will make good growth in the coming year.

All around the garden is bursting into life and its so beautiful!

Apricot blossom

I’m tackling the more ornamental areas in a slightly more gentle manner as there are so many ephemeral plants I might have damaged otherwise, like these delightful snakeshead Fritillaries.

Taking the time to wait for the dainty plants to show their faces

18 Replies to “To the Manor born?”

  1. What a lovely place to work. I look forward to reading more about the garden as you settle in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Lou

    Looks absolutely fab mate we’re so pleased for you after all the crap you’ve had to endure! It does seem a bit of a dream job in a dream location, I’m sure there must be odd downsides ie not being near enough to give me grief on a regular basis 😀
    I’ve been onto the restaurant site and we will be looking to come to visit and stay towards the end of the year, the food looks fantastic.

    Take care lovely and hope to catch up at some point.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t wait to se you, hopefully Monday, and I will give you a massive hug!
      Your moral support has been instrumental to me not going under and I’m so glad I have friends like you ❤️


  3. So exciting for you after your bumpy patch. Looking forward to seeing all the changes over the seasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really enjoyed reading this thanks Lou . Am glad you have found such a lovely place it sounds amazing. Well deserved am sure after the last disappointing place. Am slightly envious of all the lovely food being cooked for you. All the best from a rubbish garden. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been thinking about where you could have gone after your difficult time. So pleased things are working out for you. Kind regards Sue McCauley.

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  5. A beautiful place to live and work. The start of a fantastic new adventure. I am so pleased for you.
    Look forward hearing and reading all about it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate how welcome you’ve made me feel, returning to the Midlands has been a wonderfully pleasant experience 🤗


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