Hemingford Grey Manor (Green Knowe)

Now, this one is close to my heart.

It wouldn’t have mattered how many gardens I have worked in by the time I hang my boots up… this one will always be my favourite.

I have known about this house and garden all my life, like I said in my first blog, my Grandad ,this garden and the previous owner a Lucy Boston are the very reasons why I am gardening today. I also was very lucky to work there on work experience whilst still at school, then for a short while after I left school.

As a kid I always loved going to visit my Nan and Grandad who both worked there for many years, my Nan as a cleaner and my Grandad as a gardener. When Mrs Boston was not busy she would also spend time telling me the odd ghost story and, giving me a tour of the house and garden… I had many a tour as a child.

Wooden Mouse

The Manor.

The Manor was built-in the 1130’s, and is one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Britain. It has had many changes over the years, but the original part of the house is virtually as it was over 900 years ago.

Lucy Boston wrote a series of children’s books called Green Knowe that where based on the house and garden, my two personal favourites being the ‘The Children of Green Knowe’ and ‘The Chimney’s of Green Knowe’. To this very day you can still see many of the items mentioned in the books, in and around both the house and garden, one of the items being a small wooden mouse.

I last visited the house in July 2008 and on that visit I still got the same magical feeling when I entered the Children’s Attic as I did as a child. Full of wonderful goodies for children both young and old, including a rocking horse and a set of very old marbles.

Children’s Attic

During the Second World war, Lucy Boston held classical music evenings for the local RAF men in the Music room. The gramophone is still working to this day.

Music Room

The Garden.

Loved the house… love the garden even more. For me it has always been a magical place even to this day. Even though I spent a lot of my time working alone, the one thing you never felt and that was, alone… but it never was uncomfortable.

The garden itself is approximately four acres in size and is surrounded by a moat. The main feature of the garden are the Yew topiary chess pieces laid out over the garden, some of them standing over six feet in height. I was given the wonderful job of clipping the chess pieces when I was only sixteen, I can assure you that the nerves were jangling away when I was doing this job.

Yew chess pieces

There are also over  two hundred old roses in the garden, along with a collection of Irises containing many Dykes medal winners. It has large herbaceous borders that contain many scented plants, this garden is a great garden to go exploring in; as you will never know what you will find next.

Herbaceous border

Lucy Boston died on the 25th May 1990 after suffering a stroke two months earlier aged 97. A wonderful spirited lady for whom I have a lot thank her for, she still managed to garden for many hours a day well into her nineties.

The house and garden today is owned by Lucy’s daughter in law Diana Boston. The garden itself is open everyday no appointment needed, but the house is by appointment only; I do strongly recommend that you see both house and garden.

If you do ever visit, the one thing I would recommend if you haven’t done already, is read ‘The Children of Green Knowe’ before visiting.

The Children of Green Knowe, written in 1954


One of many quilts that Lucy Boston made.

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alison
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 20:14:04

    The Children of the Green Knowe is a superb book – I must visit this house/garden one day.


  2. Ben Ranyard
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 20:14:26

    Next time you go can you steal me the mouse? 😉


  3. Harriet Rycroft
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 20:33:39

    Lovely! I didn’t know (or had forgotten) that ‘Green Knowe’ really existed. I read The Children of Green Knowe to my boys ages ago, it really conjured a special atmosphere and even made me cry. Will have to re-read and visit.


  4. thetattooedgardener
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 20:05:45

    Reblogged this on thetattooedgardener.


  5. Chloris
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 22:49:15

    A great post. I have visited the house and garden and read the books to my children. A magical place and wonderful stories. You are so lucky to have worked there and spent time there.


  6. Julie
    Jun 07, 2014 @ 07:25:35

    Gosh, this is about 30 miles from us and I had no idea, we visit Godmanchester nature reserve. Such a wonderful place to share with us. A great connection with your family and this garden, house and family too. Just looked this up and the garden is open daily from 11 – 5. I would love to visit.


  7. sueturner31
    Jun 07, 2014 @ 10:58:08

    Such an emotional post and you were so privileged as a child then as an adult to return to such wonderful memories…..


  8. flahertylandscape
    Jun 12, 2014 @ 10:57:48

    If I knew one landscape architect who speaks about a garden as you do…essence of stewardship–a pleasure to read.


  9. Trackback: Hemingford Grey Manor (Green Knowe) | flahertylandscape

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