Bolham, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 7RQ.
This was one of the first gardens I visited which had yew hedges and actually is the place that interested me in topiary in the first place. The photographs are very small as they were taken on an old film camera and have been cropped over the years. Note to self. Revisit Knightshayes in 2016! I remember it as being a place which was quite magical and took you away from the cares of the everyday world and quite simply it deserves a better article than this.
The house is Gothic Revival from the Victorian period. I didn’t go in but it has a medieval inspired Great Hall and various other oddities and is now opened to the public more often by the National Trust. The house was designed by William Burges for the Heathcoat-Amory family. it is reputed that Sir John Heathcoat-Amory, 1st Baronet chose the site of Knightshayes, because he could see his factory in the Exe valley below. Started in 1869 it was completed by 1874. The garden is one of the finest in Devon according to the National Trust and I wouldn’t disagree. The fox hunting scenes grown on the top of the yew hedges may have gone now due to the present policy of the Trust on that pastime. (I shall see)
The gardens were originally designed by Edward Kemp but underwent a great deal of simplification in the 1950s and ’60s. Sir John and Lady Heathcoat-Amory took charge of the early work in the gardens and were both awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour.
All photographs by Anthony Blagg