The Evolution of Parks and Gardens Over Time

With such a wealth of influences the Surrey Regional Route focuses on “The Evolution of Parks and Gardens Over Time.”

This portrays the influences on the style and development of parks and gardens in Surrey. It is looking at where the inspiration for parks and gardens came from, how they developed, how they are connected with other places and people.

This has close links with the cultural, economic, historic and social development of Surrey. It also has links to art and architecture. The Regional Route was developed to show such links and it does include selected other sites and aspects.

The five gardens in Surrey’s Regional Route have been chosen to highlight the range of influences in park and garden development in Surrey.

Painshill Park is one of the 18th century’s great landscape parks. Here history, art, and landscape design come together spectacularly to offer visitors of all ages an enlightening, breath-taking and tranquil day out.

Located near Cobham, Surrey, Painshill Park was the vision of the Hon Charles Hamilton, a young nobleman who returned from his Grand Tours of Europe inspired by all the art and architecture he had seen. Between 1738 and 1773 he enthusiastically set about transforming a strip of land near the River Mole into a ‘pleasure garden’ around which visitors could walk and be presented with a series of living pictures.

Thomas Jefferson visited Painshill in 1786 and may have been inspired in his design for Monticello. Today, with its restoration nearly complete, Painshill Park is once again what Charles Hamilton wanted it to be: a series of landscapes that enrich and delight all who visit it.

Years of painstaking research into the original tree and shrub plantings and faithful reconstruction have brought back Hamilton’s “living pictures” and rescued one of Europe’s finest 18th century landscape Parks from years of obscurity and neglect.

Polesden Lacey, a 1400 acre estate, is situated on the North Downs and commands some of the finest views in Surrey. The Edwardian Garden extends to 30 acres with 10 acres of lawns and elegant grass terraces, including a walled rose garden, summer border and winter displays.

The present house, completed in 1824, was last owned by the society hostess Mrs Greville, who hosted dinner parties for the rich and famous, including royalty. There are currently nine show rooms open to the public which have been restored to how they would have looked in Edwardian times.

Hatchlands was built by Admiral Boscowan in the mid 18th century based on designs by the architect Stiff Leadbetter. At the end of the 18th century Humphrey Repton wrote a Red Book for the site, with proposals for improving the parkland.

An area adjacent to the house was designed by Gertrude Jekyll and has been re-planted using her plans of 1914. The site contains a good example of an ice house.

Gatton Park centred on the Royal Alexandra & Albert School is the core 250 acres of a manor and park whose history can be traced to the Domesday Survey. It was a deer park in the medieval period and the great landscaper Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown replaced earlier formal gardens in the 1760’s with a more natural landscape. Gatton Park was one of Brown’s larger commissions and he enhanced the spectacular setting in the North Downs. His design incorporated views over parkland to a string of lakes and a serpentine, to a temple and the woodland beyond.

The gardens near the house were remodelled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the Japanese Garden and Rock Garden have recently been restored.

Whatever the season, RHS Garden Wisley demonstrates British gardening at its best with 97 hectares (240) acres) of glorious garden.

For 100 years the garden has been a centre of gardening excellence with visitors benefiting from the knowledge and experience of experts.

Today you will find that Wisley offers visitors countless opportunities to gather new ideas and inspiration.

Surrey is your gateway to the south east of England, and London. The county covers some 1,500 square kilometres between London to the North and the protected countryside of the Surrey Hills to the south. Home to over a million residents, it’s a place where traditional English villages meet modern centres for business and commerce.

Situated in the heart of South England in close proximity to London, Surrey has a dynamic economy and a population of 1.06 million, of which over half are economically active. The unemployment figure remains at 0.9%. The 2002 workplace based Annual Business Inquiry puts the total number of Surrey businesses at around 56,000.

Gross Value Added (GVA) measures the contribution to the economy of each individual producer, industry or sector in the UK and is used in the calculation of GDP. In 2002 Surrey’s GVA had grown to £16.5bn, equivalent to an annual growth rate of 3.8% since 1982. Output has grown steadily above the UK annual trend growth rate of 2.5%. In 2003, the single largest sector in output terms was business services, including activities such as professional services, IT services, and consultancy. The sector contributed £400m to output in Surrey, almost twice as much as the second largest producer in Surrey, the retail sector.

Surrey is served by two of the world’s largest international airports, Gatwick and Heathrow. Most major towns in Surrey have connections by rail to central London with a frequency of half an hour or less. Surrey also benefits from a comprehensive road network including the M25, M3 and M23. Proximity to Europe is also clearly a factor in the decision of a number of international companies to locate in the county.

The county is rated highly for its industrial structure and there is a strong focus on knowledge based industries. There is also good representation from sectors such as ICT, biotechnology and advanced engineering and a number of business clusters have developed around certain sectors.

The skills and occupational attributes of Surrey’s local workforce are strong. There are high levels of entrepreneurship and above average percentages of the resident workforce are employed as managers and senior officials. The percentage of the population with degrees is high and education within the county is also highly rated, both the schools and the universities. Of particular importance to the business community is the varied graduate labour market, a significant amount of which has come from highly rated research departments within the county’s universities.

The main employment is concentrated in the central towns of Guildford and Woking, to the west in Camberley and Staines and to the East in Leatherhead, Dorking and Reigate. Employment levels are very high, although the county’s commercial premises have varying levels of occupancy.

The county also rates highly in environmental terms. Surrey is England’s most wooded county and over 70% of its land lies within the greenbelt.

Look one way and you’ll find quintessential English countryside. Look the other and there sits London, one of the greatest cities in the world, just up the road, yet a million miles away. The experiences that beckon are wide and varied.

Discover a landscape rich in history – from the grand palace of Hampton Court to the Saxon churches and many idyllic villages. You’ll find gardens beyond compare – from the ornate wonders of Kew to the horticultural marvels of RHS Wisley – you’re sure to find your own version of paradise. And don’t be too surprised if you come face to face with one of the many deer in one of our vast parks. But even Eden could benefit from a traditional pub and a hearty lunch by the Thames.

Looking for human drama? Join in the infectious excitement at the Derby or international tennis. Feel the adrenalin at an adventure park or relax and play a round on one of the many golf courses. And for those more cerebral diversions, there’s a fine choice of West End calibre theatres to be found in the many towns.

There’s no end to the ways in which you can indulge yourself – from up-market shopping in smart historic towns to hunting out a bargain at an antique fair. And to rediscover your equilibrium, you’ll find quite a few relaxing spas.

Surrey is a unique county with bustling market towns perfectly balanced by beautiful open spaces, country peace and calming waters. Where ancient and modern sit together to create towns of distinctly English charm.

In Surrey, you’re certain to find your own way to feel at home.

Surrey contains a wealth of historic parks and gardens. The earliest were the gardens attached to the religious houses such as Chertsey Abbey, of which nothing now remains, and medieval deer parks such as Priory Park in Reigate.

Henry VIII built Nonsuch Palace as a showplace and the equally famous gardens were further developed during the reign of his daughter Elizabeth. The palace was demolished in the 17th century and nothing now remains of the gardens.

John Evelyn, the diarist, introduced Italian garden influences to his family home at Wotton near Dorking, and advised on the laying out of the gardens at Albury Park near Guildford. Both gardens survive in private ownership.

Surrey abounds in 18th century landscaped gardens, including Busbridge, Clandon, Claremont, Oatlands and Painshill, some of which are open to the public.

The splendour of the gardens at Denbies and the Deepdene near Dorking were famous in Victorian times. By the turn of the century, the range of garden designs was enormous. They varied from plant collections to the formality of Tudor revival, as found at Great Fosters near Egham. The herbaceous borders and woodland gardens made famous by Gertrude Jekyll are internationally known.

In recent years, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe has designed the gardens at Sutton Place near Guildford. At Wisley the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society are a source of encouragement for today’s garden lovers.


Cultural Landscape