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During the Easter holidays I paid a visit to Snowshill Manor, near Broadway in the Cotswolds. The house and garden had belonged to Charles Wade who had spent his life amassing a collection of objects from around the world. He had a passion for the Arts and Crafts philosophy and enjoyed collecting items that showed individually of design and craftsmanship. To house his collection he restored this Cotswold manor house and also created an Arts and Crafts style garden on the site.

The gardens were laid out between 1920 and 1923 in collaboration with the architect M.H. Baillie Scott.

The Arts and Crafts movement, led by William Morris, was born out of a desire to rebel against mass produced objects, and in the garden, against carpet bedding, popular in the Victorian era. The style developed into gardens that had informal planting schemes mixed with formal, structured landscaping. Features and ornaments were hand-crafted and the gardens often included pergolas, buildings made from local materials and sunken gardens with pools.

At Snowshill manor, Baillie Scott and Wade created terraced levels with retaining walls, and a series of outdoor rooms in this Arts and Crafts style. Each individual ‘room’ created a different atmosphere with walls, steps and alleyways dividing them. Whilst some planting e.g. an avenue of Yews, creates structure, herbaceous beds offer colour and softness and work well against the honey-coloured Cotswold stone.

The gardens at Hidcote, also in the Cotswolds, are another example of the Arts and Crafts style.

Many of the aspects of this style have stood the test of time and can be seen in modern garden design.


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