Appeal Update - February 2020

Following the very generous support for our Walled Garden Appeal, we are now able to take the first step in our long-term plans for the gardens at West Horsley Place. Using the funds raised so far, we will begin with restoring the rose parterre.

The existing rose parterre, with its central dovecote framed by 4 large box shapes with four pathways leading from the centre in a cruciform shape, was built in the 1930s by Lord and Lady Crewe, 

Mary Roxburghe’s parents. They purchased the house in 1931 and set about creating wonderful additions to the garden with sumptuous herbaceous borders and an army of gardeners to maintain them. From the descriptions of the gardens in a 1939 Country Life article, free growing hybrid polyantha roses and bush hybrid teas filled this area. After Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe inherited West Horsley Place, the gardens were gradually pared down to reduce the upkeep, making them more manageable, both financially and physically. However, the Duchess was still as passionate about the gardens, as is evidenced in her many letters to RHS Wisley and the exchange of plant information with her friends. To this end, we plan to re-name this area The Mary Roxburghe Rose Garden.

The low stone walling retaining the rose beds has collapsed and will be rebuilt. The roses in two of the quarters are diseased and poorly and will be replaced with a pale pink rose with an old rose style feel, but we will retain the white iceberg roses which were planted at a later date (presumably in the Duchess’ time). The formal shape of the beds has grown out of alignment and these will be re-adjusted.  Finally, a lavender hedge will be re-instated as part of the original plan.

Sponsor a Rose

So far, the Walled Garden Appeal has raised an incredible £4,200. However, we still need to raise an additional £1,800 to complete the project and we would like to ask for your help. We are looking for 50 people to donate £50 to sponsor a Heritage Rose to be planted in the parterre. Your name will be listed on our website and you will have an exclusive opportunity to meet our Head Gardener, Nicky Webber and see The Mary Roxburghe Rose Garden once it is finished. 

Become part of the garden journey by supporting us and see this exciting project come to life. SPONSOR A ROSE


The 18th century Grade II listed walled gardens at West Horsley Place are woven into the history of the estate, landscape and the lives of local people. Sadly, the gardens have fallen into disrepair and many of these stories have been lost. 

Built in the early 1700s, the gardens were once full of lavish flower borders and were famous for their glasshouse fruits but gradually went into decline after World War II. Today, the walls are in a state of disrepair: several are propped up with scaffolding to prevent their collapse, many areas need repointing and rebuilding. Remnants of the once grand gardens remain, with lawns framed by old topiary, roses and flowering fruit trees. Unfortunately, many were overwhelmed with tree ivy, nettles and brambles.

In addition to starting the restoration of the rose parterre, work has continued throughout the garden with our Head Gardener Nicky and her team of dedicated volunteers working hard clearing the undergrowth to reveal the basic structure of the garden. Much more work is needed to return the gardens to their former glory, but we have made a tremendous start.

Alongside essential clearing and maintenance, we need to research the hidden history of the gardens before making plans for their future restoration. We know that the estate has been occupied for over 1,000 years and that King Henry VIII once had a Tudor knot garden here. What other hidden gardens might lie beneath the surface? We have already made some exciting discoveries such as finding out that our serpentine wall is the oldest in the country and that the wooded area behind the serpentine wall, which is now being cleared, was once a meadow.

Understanding the history of the gardens will enable us to plan their restoration, allowing us to begin to open them to visitors. The gardens will provide opportunities for local people to volunteer, learn and enjoy by providing space for our future programme of arts, crafts, history and natural heritage activities.