Outing to Chenies – 7th May 2014

Gardeners’ Association First Outing of 2014

On 7th May thirty three members visited Chenies Manor – a beautiful Tudor Manor House with delightful award winning gardens overlooking the Chess Valley in Buckinghamshire. We were lucky with the weather – no umbrellas needed and lucky with the tulips. The gardens are renowned for their tulip displays in the spring but with everything so advanced this year it was with some trepidation that we eagerly entered the gardens – much to our delight the tulips were not all over – a fair number were still on show. The plus side was that there were many other lovely plants that would not have been in bloom earlier in the season – including the splendid wisteria which was at its peak.

A guided tour of the house was included in our visit. The original building, formerly known as Chenies Palace, was owned by the Cheyne family who were granted manorial rights in 1180. The brick manor house which forms the core of the house was built by Sir John Cheyne around 1460 and the estate was visited by Henry V111 and Queen Elizabeth 1. In the 16th century the house was extended by John Russell, later the 1st Earl of Bedford, to whom the property had passed through marriage. However, in 1627 the 4th Earl of Bedford relocated to Woburn Abbey and Chenies Manor became a secondary home for relatives of the Russell family. In the 1950s the estate was bought by the MacLeod Matthews family and a restoration programme began.

The gardens are the creation of Alistair and Elizabeth MacLeod Matthews and as you can see from the photos are divided into a series of compartments with a variety of structural forms, colour themes and lovely plant associations. The garden is clearly well worth a visit at any time of the year but preparations are already underway for the spectacular dahlia display in the late summer – so who knows maybe another visit on a future occasion?

Linda Truscott

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