the historic grace and favour residence of the Chancellor of Exchequer
Dorneywood was bequeathed to the National Trust by Lord Courtauld-Thomson in 1954. The estate is today managed by the Dorneywood Trust. The Gardens Trust have been fortunate to secure a visit to the house which only opens for two weeks a year, we shall enjoy a guided tour of the ground floor rooms. Dr Sarah Rutherford will tell us about the gardens long history and Sean Walter will explain the challenge of retaining the character of the garden using modern planting schemes whilst focusing on environmental sustainability and keeping maintenance costs down.
Dorneywood (Grade II) is a “lived-in” house and not a museum piece. One of the main attractions for visitors is the warm, welcoming atmosphere that this creates. Lord Courtauld-Thomson's furniture, books and works of art are carefully preserved and many are used on a daily basis in the house. The collection has been enhanced over the years as the house has been adapted to modern lifestyles. Look out for the mural by Rex Whistler in the hallway. All of the important works of art are available to view at artuk.org, search for Dorneywood under venues.
The garden is at the heart of the estate, forming the ornamental setting for the important core buildings. It is based on the modest area laid out in the 1890s and extended for Sir Courtauld Thomson in the 1920s-30s which incorporated both the areas of the C19 farmhouse garden to the south and east running down the hillside and included two pits and the former farmyard. The layout has been little altered by the National Trust since his death in 1954, but it has extended the area considerably since the 1980s, to increase privacy from Dorneywood Road to the west, and by adding features to the north and east. New features include lawns, a glasshouse yard, the pond garden and conservatory, and the Rose Garden.
The gardens were recorded in 1950-51 towards the end of Lord Courtauld-Thomson’s life in photographs for Country Life, including the forecourt, North Lawn, drive, south lawn, and Dell Garden. These offer a detailed record of the appearance of the garden at the end of his life when the planting had matured and before management passed to the National Trust.
Dorneywood is one of the architect Sir Robert Lorimer’s minor commissions, he designed the surviving service wing, and also contributed to the landscape design, including the forecourt enclosure. He was a skilled designer of gardens of various types and collaborated on gardens with Gertrude Jekyll but there was no major garden design involved in his work for Sir Courtauld Thomson.
Sue Saville, Secretary to the Dorneywood Trust, will give a short introduction. We will then split into two groups for tours of the house and garden.
Guided tour of the house by experienced guides, a background to the garden history, by Dr Sarah Rutherford who wrote the Conservation Statement in 2023 and a guided tour of the garden by Sean Walter of the Plant Specialist, Great Missenden who works alongside the garden team. We shall then enjoy tea in the garden.
There are limited places available for this visit, and booking is essential (includes entry, coffee/tea, homemade cake and guidebook). Tickets £55, for members of the Gardens Trust, non-member places may be available if space allows.
Ticket sales close 3 June.
Due to a recent Apple decision to charge a 30% fee for paid online events unfortunately you may no longer be able to purchase this ticket from the Eventbrite iOS app. Please use a web browser on desktop or mobile to purchase or follow the link here.
Image: courtesy of The Dorneywood Trust
Also check out other Arts Events in Slough.
Tickets for Garden Visit - Dorneywood can be booked here.
|Gardens Trust Member Ticket – Dorneywood