|HCC Site ID:||1536||Parish:||Hursley|
|Access:||No general public access. See NGS||Ownership:||Private|
Location and Site
Merdon Manor is situated north west of Hursley on higher ground, with extensive vistas towards Braishfield. It lies on chalk and clay, and is surrounded by farmland and woodland.
The first reference to Merdon Manor on its present site was in the sixteenth century. However it developed as a farm rather than a landed estate and so any garden was insignificant. This changed in the 1920s when Merdon became the home of Capt. George Cooper, heir to Hursley Park. Extensive alterations were made to the house and a garden was created befitting that of a manor. Gertrude Jekyll prepared plans for a rectangular garden but they were not followed. The gardens that did develop took advantage of the fine vistas across the chalk downs. On the South side the view extended imperceptibly from lawns to fields across a ha-ha. The lines of clipped yew hedges and rose borders added emphasis. On the North side the siting of steps and tree borders enhanced the vista. This formality gave way to informal areas of woodland through which another scenic view could be seen to the West.
Developed further since 1984 the gardens are now described for the NGS Open Gardens scheme as: Large scale garden offers a good walk and chance to explore and view the Isle of Wight in the distance. Restored barn with New Dawn rose, sunken shrub walk ,many conifers now removed to improve the vistas. An ancient half walnut tree has roses growing through it. Attractive wild pond with water lilies.
Today there are still reminders that this was once a working farm. The two large barns stand behind the House and in front of them the old farmyard is now a garden where a large fishpond has been created. The designs of the early twentieth century have been well maintained. More modern features such as the swimming pool have been discreetly placed. Further tree planting has not obscured the vistas but has provided more shelter for both house and garden. A sunken garden described as an ‘enchanting secret garden’ is on the site of the former milking parlour which incorporates some of the stone walls. The visitas from a ‘shepherd’s hut over the chalk downland to Braishfield are particularly impressive.
Early working farm, developed as gardens in the 20th century with many trees, a secret walled water garden; ha-ha, herbaceous borders, panoramic views, fishpond.
HGT Research: May 2003