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Trent Park, North London

Trent Park, owned by the multi-millionaire Sir Philip Sassoon, was one of the grandest inter-war country houses. A large garden-of-rooms with borders designed by Noah Lindsay lay close to the mansion. The eighteenth-century park, redesigned by Lewis Kennedy in 1815, contained statues brought from Stowe and Wrest Park. An immaculate pleached lime avenue connected the garden-of-rooms with the lake and wild garden. The site is now being developed for residential use. acta prepared a history of the landscape which informed the design and restoration proposals, followed by a heritage impact assessment.

Since the grant of planning permission, we have worked on the reinstatement of the landscape. This has included a version of Kennedy’s American Garden and Norah Lindsay’s herbaceous borders. It is impossible to re-create her borders exactly - many of the varieties have disappeared from cultivation - but working for Murdoch Wickham landscape architects, we are replanting in Norah Lindsay’s style. Some of her classic plants are being used, but generally we have chosen the best modern varieties to get a good blend of tones of the same colour, which was the key feature of her designs. All of the planting takes account of the fact that there are not now 36 gardeners available, as there were in Sir Philip Sassoon’s time.

  1. The gardens were extensively recorded by Sir Philip Sassoon and his many famous guests and in Country Life articles
  2. Norah Lindsay called her style ton-sur-ton, or blending tones of the same colour. Sky blue delphiniums were one of the key plants, as they were for many of the leading inter-war gardeners
  3. The garden style depended on having plants of the range of colour so that ordinary plants like valerian had a role to play
  4. Churchill and the royal family were frequent guests. The pergola, made of mock-medieval columns, is still present and is being replanted with climbing plants identified on historical photographs
  5. Most of the hedges that formed the framework of the garden-of-rooms survive, and there is a five-year programme to bring them back to good condition
  6. Some of the statues collected by Sir Philip such as this one of Hippolyta, the Amazon Queen, by the seventeenth-century craftsman John Cheere have been lost. But there are excellent photographic records