Following Sackville-West's death in 1962, the estate was donated to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. Anne Scott-James, the author of the first non-Nicolson history of the garden, records 13,200 visitors in 1961, the year of Sackville-West's death, 47,100 in 1967, when the castle passed to the Trust, and 91,584 by 1973. This went on to form the basis of his book Portrait of a Marriage.  Gertrude Jekyll had discussed the concept, but argued for varying the white palette with the use of blue or yellow plants, advice followed by Reiss.  She described her relationship with them in a 1939 article in the New Statesman: "between them and myself a particular form of courtesy survives, a gardener's courtesy". There were no diaries and curiously few photographs of Philippa’s family and, with an attitude that now seems unforgivably arrogant, we almost entirely overlooked her side of things. I understood why people were magnetised by her,' says Juliet. , The garden was first opened to the paying public for two days in mid-1938. Juliet started to drink when her first marriage, to financier James Macmillan-Scott, collapsed in the 90s. Could I dig him up, I asked? But for her sex, Sackville-West would have inherited Knole on the death of her father in 1928. It is important to remember that day because alcoholism is a cunning disease. Call now and book 01334441849 Quote ref: SARAH RAVEN.  A bed of Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra' is at the southern end of the Lower Courtyard, and some Magnolia grandiflora are on the walls of the Top Courtyard. It was bought by Sackville-West in 1930, and over the next thirty years, working with, and later succeeded by, a series of notable head gardeners, she and Nicolson transformed a farmstead of "squalor and slovenly disorder" into one of the world's most influential gardens. Over summer 2017 I visited my dad who lives down in St. Leonard’s on Sea, and whilst I was there he took me to Sissinghurst Castle in Cranbrook. I came home, drank the whole bottle of champagne and have not had a drink since. 'My wake-up-screaming nightmare is of a huge flood sweeping it all away, the tower carried sideways. In 1928 the castle was advertised for sale but remained unsold for two years. These two great and very different houses, both much-visited National Trust properties, are the genius loci of Juliet’s soon-to-be-published memoir A House Full of Daughters.  Several varieties are trained to climb up trees in the Orchard. There is plenty of information about Sissinghurst Castle and there is a whole building dedicated to its history and most importantly, the lives of Vita and Harold. With her husband she created the magnificent and hugely influential gardens at their home, Sissinghurst Castle. Sissinghurst Castle is famous now for its garden, created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson in the 1930's. " He drove down to Sissinghurst on the day war was declared, encountering an angry woman who shook her fist at him while declaring that the war was the fault of the rich. [ae] The azaleas were bought with the £100 Heinemann prize Sackville-West received in 1946 for her last published poem, The Land. Recovery has not only given her a new career as a writer – two much-praised works of First World War social history and a novel, Abdication – but a second chance at love. ‘He was on our team,’ as Juliet puts it. Assisted by the number of walls still standing from the Tudor manor, and constructing more of her own, Sackville-West remarked "I see we are going to have heaps of wall space for climbing things. ‘Charlie wouldn’t have had anything to do with me if he’d known me when I was drinking,’ she says. A few years after her death, a seedling appeared that seems to have been a spontaneous cross between 'Lady Sackville' and the variety 'Nellie Britton' that was growing alongside it.  This led in part to a concept of the "garden room" (distinct from the architectural concept of a garden room) as a space out of doors, in which paths, corresponding to halls in a house, lead to enclosed gardens within the garden as a whole, conceived of as rooms. In 1930, after she and Nicolson became concerned that their home Long Barn was threatened by development, Sackville-West bought Sissinghurst Castle. She arrived in the world in 1928 – a bad time to be a daughter.  The Trust is considering reinstatement of the pool.  Throughout, he maintained a detailed private diary. The grounds and property was left to the National Trust in 1970 by the last member of the Hussey family who lived there, Christopher Hussey.  Their efforts have generated some controversy, reflecting the tension between the demands of traditional agricultural practices and the requirements of a major tourism destination in the 21st century.  Planted against a new wall constructed on ancient foundations is the Purple Border, a colour palette deliberately chosen by Sackville-West in defiance of Gertrude Jekyll's dictum against massing purple flowers.  In 1976, the garden was given a distinctive specimen of Pulmonaria officinalis that, unlike the species, has large white flowers (along with the white-spotted leaves of the species). It is bad enough to have lost my Knole but they shan't take Sissinghurst from me. for the “aerial” photo; I was standing up there between the towers, under the flag, over the clock, where you can see that little person. She is an unopened flower. [x] Called up to the RAF in 1941, he had urged that the hedges be maintained, confident that everything else in the garden could be restored after the war. The garden design is based on axial walks that open onto enclosed gardens, termed "garden rooms", one of the earliest examples of this gardening style.  He had first raised the possibility of giving the house and garden to the National Trust in 1954, but Sackville-West was adamantly opposed. Sparkling wine and three-course dinner at Sissinghurst.  Following his father into the diplomatic corps, he served as a junior member of the British delegation at the Paris Peace Conference at the end of the First World War, and returned to Iran as Counsellor in 1925.  They remained at Sissinghurst until 1991, their contributions, "as much, if not more than Vita's, mak[ing] it the most admired and popular 20th-century garden in England". Adam Nicolson suggests that Vass and Sackville-West disagreed about the Sissinghurst Flower Show. , This building formed the southeast corner of the courtyard enclosure buildings. Just that.  She wrote to her mother that she would like "to live alone in a tower with her books", an ambition she achieved in the tower at Sissinghurst where only her dogs were regularly admitted. Sissinghurst & Monks House – intertwined lives endure in the gardens. It is a story of secrets, a study of daughterhood, that was bound to expose her own torments as sharply as those of her predecessors – most movingly, her midlife struggle with alcoholism.  He has written of the challenges of maintaining the garden "in the manner of its creator, after they have gone".  He died at the castle on 23 September 2004. Unwilling to live in four separate structures – the Big Room, the Tower, the Priest's House, and the South Cottage – he built a substantial family home in the half of the entrance range that stood on the side of the gateway opposite from the library.  The gardening writer Tony Lord considers it "the courtyard's greatest glory". [r][s], The range is of brick and of two storeys, with attics and decorated gables and chimneys. I risked it; Nicolson's close contemporary and sometime friend. He will be in his bed minus gas-mask and with all the windows open. Date. [n] Her death devastated Nicolson and his last years were not happy. , The Moat Walk stands on the old bowling green constructed by Sir Richard Baker in the 1560s and his reconstructed moat wall provides the axis. Au grand jamais, jamais. "I mind frightfully, frightfully, frightfully. Letting myself in feels like a completion, a slowing of my heartbeat, a coming home. Sackville-West planted the noisette rose 'Madame Alfred Carrière' on the south face of the South Cottage even before the deeds to the property had been signed. " He later withdrew his objections, but Sackville-West declined the BBC's offer in order to please him. Were the accounts handed down by her parents true? Picture by NTPL/John Hammond. There is a park in ruins and a house in ten times greater ruins.  Nicolson kept meticulous gardening records of his efforts in the Lime Walk from 1947 to the late 1950s and, providing consolation after the end of his parliamentary career,[ad] he described the walk as "My Life's Work". This is really the garden that planted the seed of England in my heart; all because of this book which I read when I was twenty-four. July 19, 2015. It comes to get you when you think you’re cruising. The physical assets on the site were "four buildings of beautiful mellow brick, part of a moat [and] various fine walls".  Although the increased foot traffic has necessitated the replacement of the grass paths with York paving stones, the entry fees generate considerable income which, under the terms of the handover, can only be expended on Sissinghurst. A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of visiting Sissinghurst Castle Gardens and relished the opportunity to enjoy what is perhaps the finest example of naturalistic English gardening in the country. Rare plants mingle with traditional English cottage garden flowers. I found myself longing to discover that there had been some real happiness in those early years before her marriage. Her cousin Robert Sackville-West is its guardian. , The National Trust took over the whole of Sissinghurst – its garden, farm, and buildings – in 1967. As a woman, Vita could not inherit Knole and, by writing the book, Virginia was giving Knole back to Vita.  The great Elizabethan mansion, home of her ancestors but denied to her through agnatic primogeniture,[d] held enormous importance for her throughout her life. , The buildings scattered around the site were converted to become an unconventional home. [y], Entered through the archway in the West Range, that had been blocked for over 100 years before Sackville-West and Nicolson's arrival, the Top Courtyard is dominated by the Tower. She looks gratefully around the old beamed room with its vast fireplace and late-afternoon colours. New Users/How to Create a User Account User Login allows you to access your saved Shortlist of properties. Sarah Raven worked as a doctor at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton before becoming a broadcaster, teacher and writer. They selected the best plant, having larger flowers, and propagated it. , In 1969, a gardener in Kent bred a cultivar of dwarf bearded iris with reddish-purple flowers.  Around 1977, the gardeners purchased a collection of seedlings of Thalictrum aquilegiifolium. Our conversation started with Imogen Flora O’Rourke, and that is where it ends; the little girl who already knows her way through the secret garden at Sissinghurst, who loves to dance with her own shadow (shades of Pepita) and to dig and plant like Vita.  Scott-James notes however that herbaceous borders, "Jekyll's speciality", were much disliked by Sackville-West. Somehow I felt drawn to the people who created this space.  Beneath the arbour is sited a Ming dynasty vase bought in Cairo. The gardens contain an internationally respected plant collection, particularly the assemblage of old garden roses.  Nicolson recorded her death in his diary: "Ursula[m] is with Vita. ‘I owe everything I treasure to my sobriety,’ she says. The sitting room is lovely ... My bedroom, w.c. and bathroom are divine". To pre-order a copy for £11.99 until 3 April, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0808 272 0808; p&p is free on orders over £12.  Such roses appealed not only for their lavish appearance, but also for their history. This course takes place at Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2AB.  There are numerous plants that have been given trade names based on the gardens, including Tanacetum parthenium 'Rowallane' which has often been mislabelled as 'Sissinghurst', but there are several that are grown at or were discovered at Sissinghurst and were named to reflect the association. Girouard notes Horace Walpole's observation of 1752, "perfect and very beautiful". I would go to bed with vodka in my hot-water bottle. And he has one project to tackle: Sissinghurst’s White Garden. [i] Their offer on Sissinghurst was accepted on 6 May and the castle and the farm around it were bought for £12,375, using only Sackville-West's money rather than Nicolson's.  From a planting of Penstemon 'Evelyn', which is a selection of Penstemon barbatus, a specimen was named 'Sissinghurst Pink', although Lord does not consider it to be distinct from 'Evelyn'. People come from all over the world to see the Garden which is administered by the National Trust. ... so long as I live no National Trust ... shall have my darling.  The two arms of the moat that remain from the medieval house are populated by goldfish, carp, and golden orfe. Sissinghurst Castle garden was created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson who transformed the ruins of this Elizabethan mansion and gardens in the 1930s. Over the next thirty years, working with her head gardeners, she cultivated some two hundred varieties of roses and large numbers of other flowers and shrubs. He had hoped to ‘mould’ Philippa, but within weeks was bored by her. I shan't care.". , In 2014, Troy Scott Smith, previously head gardener at Bodnant, was appointed – the first male head gardener since the 1950s. This is an edited extract from A House Full of Daughters: Seven Generations, One Family by Juliet Nicolson, to be published by Chatto & Windus on Thursday, price £14.99.  During the 1970s, a pink-flowered specimen of Glandularia (Verbena) was given to the garden and named 'Sissinghurst'.  The room as a whole is a recreation of Knole, "Vita's record of her disinheritance". Nigel Nicolson always felt that the memorial failed to acknowledge his father's contribution.  Originally laid out in the 1930s, the garden was revitalised by John Vass in the years immediately after the Second World War. I can make the perfect bloody mary.’. The coat of arms of the Carnocks above the entrance archway was brought to Sissinghurst by Nicolson. ‘She behaved outrageously to Harold, my father and his brother [Nigel and Ben Nicolson] by threatening to leave them, but she was also magnificent and funny and seductive. Sissinghurst Castle was the backdrop for a diverse history, from the astonishing time as a prison in the 1700s to being a home to the women’s land army. [u] Her writing room is maintained largely as it was at the time of her death. , –Sackville-West's reflections on Sissinghurst towards the end of her life, The focal point of the garden was originally four almond trees, encased in a canopy of the white rose, Rosa mulliganii. ‘When I was 21, my mother gave me the option of a party or a nose job. [t] The West Range has a Grade I listing.  In addition to using established suppliers and receiving plants as gifts from friends, Sackville-West sometimes sourced specimens herself. Sackville-West intensely disliked the result. Of red brick and two storeys, Historic England suggests that the building may originally have been attached to Sir Richard Baker's 1560s house but Newman disagrees. On 8 April 1953 Nigel wrote to his mother. The incident happened on the A262 Sissinghurst Road at 4.45pm, leading officers to close the road in both directions. And they gave it, but with reservations, joining in the family conspiracy that she would have to be taught how to be a satisfactory Nicolson wife.  Anne Scott-James sets out the principles of the design: "a garden of formal structure, of a private and secret nature, truly English in character, and plant[ed] with romantic profusion". Instead, following primogeniture, the house and the title passed to her uncle, a loss she felt deeply. 4 Days. ‘Can she open a bazaar well?’ Harold had asked Nigel. " She was especially fond of the bourbon roses 'Madame Isaac Péreire' and 'Madame Pierre Oger'. , Sackville-West's planting philosophy is summed up in the advice from one of her gardening columns in the Observer: "Cram, cram, cram, every chink and cranny". ‘She was very selfish,’ Juliet says. Adam Nicolson remembers growing up at Sissinghurst . But by public transportation, it was a full-day out from London, and still cost close to $100 per person. [b] In 1554 Sir John's daughter Cecily married Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, creating the earliest connection between the Sackville family and the house. Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden ©2014, St. Martin’s Press. 'If I had not been her granddaughter and been her contemporary, I wonder if I might have been one of them.’, Vita with her husband Harold in their garden at Sissinghurst, 1960. Vita and Harold were the last private owners of Sissinghurst Castle.  The village is situated in Cranbrook was for centuries a meeting and resting place for people travelling towards the south coast, it's nearest railway station is at Staplehurst .  Anne Scott-James notes their "planting inheritance" as "a grove of nut-trees, some apple trees, a quince [and] a tangle of old roses".  The Priest's House was home to their sons Ben and Nigel, and held the family dining room, while the South Cottage housed their bedrooms and Nicolson's writing room. At this point, the plan was to construct the White Garden on the site of the recently drained Lion Pond.  During the Second World War, Sissinghurst saw much of the Battle of Britain, which was mainly fought over the Weald and the English Channel.  Similarly, the Nuttery consisted entirely of filberts that appear to have been planted around 1900. National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, "Long lost art of first major global war discovered in Kent", "Vita Sackville-West and Sissinghurst Castle", "Great British Gardens: Sissinghurst Castle Garden – The Most Visited Garden in England", "Vita Sackville-West: her gardening legacy", "National Trust prepares to celebrate its gay history", "South Cottage opens at Sissinghurst Castle Garden", "Opening Times – Sissinghurst Castle Garden", "Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook (Grade I) (1000181)", "West Range At Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook (Grade I) (1346285)", "Sir Arthur Nicholson, 1st Baron Carnock: Papers", "Tower and Walls 30 yards East of the West Range at Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook (Grade I) (1084163)", "The Priest's House at Sissinghurst Castle, Cranbrook (Grade II*) (1346286)", "The South Cottage, Cranbrook (Grade II*) (1084164)", "From Sissinghurst to Chartwell – the best gardens to visit in Kent", "Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West's lavish approach to gardening", "RHS honours champions of organic gardening, orchids and community horticulture", "Just the man for the greatest job in gardening", "Troy Scott Smith to be new Sissinghurst head gardener", "Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst review – a wealth of inspiration for gardeners", "A moonlit masterpiece at Sissinghurst Castle Garden", "The White Garden Rose (Rosa mulliganii)", "The Historic Development of the Gardens at Lanhydrock, Cornwall", "Rosmarinus officinalis 'Sissinghurst Blue, Sissinghurst Castle Garden information at the National Trust, Blog written by the current gardeners at Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West reads from her poem The Land, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sissinghurst_Castle_Garden&oldid=989816646, Buildings and structures in the Borough of Tunbridge Wells, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing potentially dated statements from 2019, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Pages using multiple image with auto scaled images, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Tower and Walls 30 yards East of the West Range at Sissinghurst Castle, The Priest's House at Sissinghurst Castle, This page was last edited on 21 November 2020, at 05:39.  The gardening writer and landscape critic Tim Richardson, writing in 2015, described Scott Smith's re-making of the garden: "Sissinghurst, more than any other garden I know, inspires extremes of emotion. Miserable in her second marriage (to Robin McAlpine) and unable to find a purpose in life, she took to drink.  Some Malus and Prunus in the Rose Garden died out, as have Robinia pseudoacacia, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, and Koelreuteria paniculata in the Cottage Garden. We are no longer accepting comments on this article. I do need him.  Powys provided most of the architectural input into the conversion of the buildings at Sissinghurst, including the Priest's House and the South Cottage, as well as occasionally advising on elements of the design of the gardens. At the time of her unenthusiastic marriage to Harold, Vita was in love with another woman and, throughout their odd, companionable life together, continued to take female lovers, the most celebrated being the novelist Virginia Woolf.  In 1953, John Vass counted 194 rose varieties on the property. ‘I adored him.’. 'I find Knole intimidating, not just in its size but in its massive history.’ (It is a former archbishop’s palace and passed through royal hands to the Sackville family 450 years ago.). [k] Thereafter, the opening hours were gradually increased.  For 2019,[update] the gardens are open to the public daily from 7 March to 31 October. " In 1955, in recognition of her achievement at Sissinghurst, "bending some stubborn acres to my will", she was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Veitch Medal. Paths were laid from concrete cast on-site, rather than by using the. 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