The Old Vicarage is situated on the edge of the South Downs, in the village of Washington, West Sussex. The garden is open under the National Garden Scheme by arrangement from March to October. We visited on 8th March 2022 and were blessed with a cold but glorious sunny day.
We were met by Lady Meryl Walters who lead us to the conservatory furnished with very comfortable chairs and sofas, where we had delicious cakes, tea and coffee.
Sir Peter and Lady Meryl Walters bought the Old Vicarage, an 18th Century Regency House in 1993. The 4.5 acre garden was almost in total neglect. The noisy A24 runs very close to the bottom of the garden and in an endeavour to reduce the traffic noise over 1,000 trees, mostly oak, ash, yew and blackthorn, were planted as well as poplar trees which now stand very tall and swayed beautifully in the wind yesterday against an amazing blue sky.
To the rear of the house, is a steep sloping garden with amazing views of the North Downs. There is a large expanse of lawn, a water garden, and a Japanese garden with a waterfall. We were too early for the tulips but the time was right for the snow drops and crocus. The garden and woodland are full of the most interesting sculptures and metal work designs including two handsome deer and interesting large metal rocking chairs where you can sit looking out over, the vista.
The poplars provide a wonderfully shady woodland garden to explore, a treasure for children, with a stream, a stumpery and an amazing tree house. The ‘tree’ inside the house had the prettiest twinkling green fairy lights, all sorts of art on the walls and tucked around a corner was a skeleton!
Throughout the garden there was always something new and unusual to find from a fern bridge with metal fronds crossing the stream to enormous walnut sculptures.
Comments from the group included “So much to see packed into a mixture of carefully tendered and naturalised beds, borders and wooded walkways”; “Such an interesting garden …achieved in quite a challenging setting on such a slope”; and “a lovely interesting place, it was very worthwhile”.
This will definitely be a garden to be revisited.