Hidcote Manor Gardens

One of the most delightful gardens of the Cotswolds region

Hidcote Manor Gardens

Hidcote Manor Gardens is known as an 'Arts and Crafts' garden. The arts and crafts movement was a reaction against mass production and industrialization. The group helped revitalize traditional craftsmanship and the appreciation of things created by hand. 

Hidcote is a dynamic place with imaginative planting and living architectural structures. It is a warren of pathways with many horticultural surprises. 

The gardens are in the heart of the Cotswolds' and an easy hop to Chipping Campden, Broadway and Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace.

A brief history of Hidcote Manor Gardens
The garden started to take shape over one hundred years ago. Major Lawrence Johnston (1871-1958) created the horticultural work of art with hedges forming rooms, corridors and vistas. 

He was from a family of wealthy American stockbrokers from the east coast. He was born in Paris, educated at home and from his early 20s moved to Britain and entered Trinity College, Cambridge. He became a naturalized British subject and joined the armed forces in 1900. Johnston fought in the Boer War, a conflict between the British Empire and the independent Boer states of South Africa. Here he became interested in local species of plants. Johnston also fought in the Great War (1914-18) and became one of the many who received terrible injuries.

In 1907 Lawrence's mother bought the 300 acres Hidcote Manor Estate, where Johnston began his life long passion for gardening and design. He was an extremely knowledgeable plantsman and was elected a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. 

Along with the development of Hidcote, Lawrence also created the gardens at Serre de la Madonne in the South of France. He designed small intimate spaces for tender plants. His knowledge expanded with his plant-hunting trips to South Africa and China. Johnston began to hybridize plants successfully. Some of which now bears his name or garden, such as the beautiful lavender 'hypericum Hidcote'. 

Lawrence remained a private man with a small circle of friends with similar interests. He kept his distance from the Royal Horticultural Society, and the garden never won any awards. Johnston handed Hidcote over to the National Trust in 1948, and he retired to the South of France to tend his garden there. 

In 1958, Major Lawrence Johnston died. He is buried next to his mother in Mickleton Churchyard, not far from Hidcote Manor Gardens. 

The elements of the garden
Much of the Yew hedging is punctuated with topiary; this is an old English style of garden design, admired in the late Victorian period. Lawrence certainly knew his plants and created a vast range of effects with a diverse range of species. 

Lawrence mixed the dividing Yew trees with stone walls, gates, and doors. Winding paving weaves towards water aspects and eye-catching features. Gertrude Jeykll's ideas influenced the planting scheme at Hidcote, with tightly packed herbaceous borders, resembling the English cottage style, but, with more order. Jekyll was probably the most influential horticulturalists of the 19th and early 20th Century. She designed more than 400 gardens in Britain, Europe and the United States. She also wrote hundreds of articles in various magazines including Country Life. 

The Theatre Lawn is relaxing on the eye, after seeing the explosion of colour in the borders. The surrounding large trees offer shade to the would-be audience. The Old garden features a huge Cedar of Lebanon, which Johnston probably planted now sits at the end of the garden's main axis. Other elements of the estate radiate off this main avenue of hedge, tree and gates.

The bisecting axis is The Long Walk planted with hornbeam. Sections of the hedge have secret portals into wilder parts of the garden. Each element links seamlessly to another; The Circle leads to the Red Borders and the Stilt Garden.

There are twenty-eight sections of garden 'rooms' to discover, all inspirational, all imaginative. Parts of the design connect to the surrounding Cotswolds Hills. Giving you wonderful vistas of the timeless English countryside, Hidcote is a real dream. 

Touring and accommodation
Stay in Lygon Arms Hotel in Broadway, Hidcote, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Warwick is a short drive away. Visit Hidcote Manor Gardens on a day trip from London. Our Cotswolds Countryside day tour from London can include the garden.

If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of your Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands. Merging Wales with England makes for a dynamic experience of mountains, stately homes and cosy country pubs.

A Cotswold Gem

Explore the delightful garden rooms

  • A National Trust Garden
  • VIP tours available
  • 28 garden rooms
  • Easy day tour from London
  • Many hotel options nearby