Goodnestone Park - a modern parterre and a 'borrowed landscape' in Kent

Goodnestone (pronounced 'Gunstone') is an 18th century Palladian mansion
Goodnestone Park - a fine brick-built Palladian style mansion, built at the turn of the 18th century - sits amid 14 acres of gardens in a quiet corner of Kent.  It's located at the far end of a village bearing the same name as the house (pronounced 'Gunstone') where the local pub - The Fitzwalter Arms - bears the name of the family who've lived here for the last three hundred years. It's hard to tell whether the house is still occupied, although the garden is certainly well loved.
Goodnestone's parterre was designed by Charlotte Molesworth as a millennium commemoration
The parterre at the front of the property, sits on the lower of two terraces and has a broad flight of steps leading up to the elegant house, originally built by Brook Bridges between 1700 and 1704. The parterre is a recent addition - designed by Charlotte Molesworth - and commissioned to commemorate the millennium. Part of its charm is the simplicity of the design, with its network of gravel paths between the box hedges and simple planting in the enclosures.
Brick and flint arches in the walled garden, give glimpses of what's beyond
To the rear of the house are grass terraces leading to an arboretum and gravel garden, plus a woodland garden that's exceptional early in the year because of the abundant azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons and also well-known for its spring bulb displays and fritillaries. But in high summer, the focus is on the interconnecting walled gardens to the side of the main house - a classic 'borrowed' landscape focussing on the adjacent Norman church tower as their central focal point.

The central pool was added as recently as 2009
The walled gardens are were re-created within brick walls that date in part to the 18th century. It was Margaret, Lady FitzWalter, who moved to Goodnestone as a young wife in 1955, with her husband Brook - who created all that you see here, aided by head gardener John Wellard. They gardened together for over half a century and she only handed over the running to her eldest son Julian in 2012, having added many new features during her horticultural reign, including the parterre and large rill pool at the heart of the walled garden (left). 
     The ancient walls in this part of the garden shelter three sections - each very different in tempo. The area closest to the house features a profusion of old-fashioned roses, climbing plants and spectacular spring colour; the middle garden has the long rectangular pool surrounded by lawn; and the area closest to the church features traditional borders overflowing with perennials, interspersed with vegetables, fruit and flowers for cutting (below). The charm of this garden is considerably enhanced by numerous brick and flint arches in the walls giving a glimpse of what's beyond.
Goodnestone Park is open from the end of March until the end of September - Tuesdays to Fridays, 11.00-17.00 and Sundays from noon to 17.00. Also open on Sundays in February and October from noon to 16.00. Admission is £6 for adults and £2 for children (6-16). Other notable gardens nearby include Doddington Place and Godinton House.  
                                               For more garden visit ideas click here.


  1. Wonderful, Charlotte and so interesting. Bad, that they not have opened when we come in October.


  2. Beautiful garden! The brick arch with orange blossoms in the border is so lovely. Jeannine

  3. The brick and flint archway is lovely, as is the reflecting pool. So many gardens to see, so little time! ;-)

  4. Beautiful garden and shown wonderful in your images!

  5. Lovely blog - I often visit Goodnestone and have learned a lot from it - at one point they had a lovely gravel-and-grasses garden, which made me realise that gravel and grasses, delightful as they are, are a statement in themselves, and to do grasses well, you either need to make them the theme of the whole garden, or you need a Goodnestone-sized garden. I understood why my grasses never looked as good as they should...


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