Saturday, 4 May 2013

Follow in the footsteps of the BFG at Roald Dahl's Gipsy House - open for the NGS this summer

Gipsy House, where Roald Dahl wrote his children's books, opens for the NGS every year
First sight of Roald Dahl's home, Gipsy House, gives you little insight into the man who brought James and the Giant Peach, the BFG and Fantastic Mister Fox into the lives of children the world over. It's a handsome 18th century farmhouse, with perfect doll's house proportions, set in what would once have been rolling countryside, but now sitting firmly in the heart of commuter-belt Buckinghamshire, in the village of Great Missenden. This is where the popular children's author lived and wrote for 36 years before his death in 1990.
The pleached lime walk leading to Roald Dahl's writing hut
His widow Felicity continues to maintain the one-acre garden that she and her husband created in the decade before his death and Dahl fans can make the pilgrimage to see Gipsy House on the days it opens for the NGS each year. Like all gardens in Britain, it is running a little behind schedule in terms of flowering, but at the first open day on 1st May, the weather was perfect and the garden showed the promise of what's to come later in the season at future open days. Head back in May and June and the spectacular alliums will be in flower!
The children's maze at Gipsy House
The one-acre garden surrounding the house is divided into different spaces on varying levels and includes a sundial garden, a terraced kitchen garden, a children's maze, sunken garden adjacent to the house and a pleached lime walk leading to the author's Writing Hut. At first sight it appears so manicured and charming that you'd never guess the creator of so many inspired childrens' book characters lived here, but look a little harder and you'll begin to see some more clues, like the old painted caravan (below) purchased by Dahl as a toy for his children and featured in Danny, Champion of the World, plus quotations from his books engraved into the flagstones at either end of the maze.
The old painted caravan featured by Dahl in "Danny, Champion of the World"
During his lifetime Dahl was committed to helping seriously ill children and thought nothing of dropping into hospital to read to them or making a special recording of a story for a particular child. His widow, Felicity set up Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity  just a year after his death and the charity continues to help children with serious illnesses. Gipsy House opens for the NGS several times each year, and future dates are 23 May, 19 June and 18 July (all 14.00-17.00).


  1. Doesn't look ordinary to me! Interesting to see these pictures. I've seen photos of the inside of Dahl's writing hut and him in a greenhouse (though not certain it was his!) but not the garden itself before.

    1. You're quite right Lucy - bad choice of word!! So I've altered it because the garden is really delightful!

  2. All my children enjoyed his stories! Interesting to see a little about his life in his garden.

  3. What a lovely garden. Great photos Charlotte :)

  4. I always liked Roald Dahl's books. What a lovely garden. For some reason I thought he was married to someone else....will have to read some more about Mr. Dahl. We have a giant peach here in SC...the kids first said it was like the peach in James and the Giant Peach.