Description

Smiths Hall has formal gardens associated with the country house. The older gardens feature areas enclosed by walls and yew hedging, whilst newer gardens have been added by the Norman family, first in 1950 – 1970, with a second phase during the past 20 years.

Today’s gardens, although considerably extended in recent times, also follow the axes and plan of the original gardens with the addition in the 1960s of a summer house, which appears in 18th century illustrations but was apparently never built.

There has also been extensive tree planting in the surrounding park. Approximately 5,000 trees were planted, about half of which form an American arboretum.

The gardens and grounds are open to the public twice a year through the National Garden Scheme. For information about the gardens, contact Lee at gardens@smithshall.com.

Location Information

  • Address: West Farleigh, ME15 0PE
  • Locality: Maidstone
  • Historical County: Kent
  • OS Landranger Map Sheet Number: 188
  • Grid Ref: TQ715526
  • Latitude: 51.24679
  • Longitude: 0.4558433


Key information:

  • Form of site: garden
  • Purpose of site: ornamental garden
  • Context or principal building: house
  • Site first created: 1719
  • Main period of development: Early 18th century
  • Survival: Extant

A Visit to the Gardens at Smiths Hall

"We were blessed with a beautiful afternoon on 1st June to enhance a visit to Smiths Hall, West Farleigh, a fascinating historic garden by kind permission of the owner.

The house asserts itself temptingly behind the boundary wall as you circle past the Tickled Trout to the car park. Arriving early, we dawdled down through the flower gardens to assemble for the tour with Lee Brayshaw, the Head Gardener.

With visual aids to history (Kypp's engraving of Smiths Hall and its gardens 1719 and the 1st edition of the OS map 1865) we were able to see that much of the formal gardens still demonstrate the antecedents of their design; and also how the Norman family and Lee have set about adapting those labour intensive Carolingian/Augustan/Victorian pleasure grounds and kitchen gardens into something sustainable with a much reduced gardening team. So for instance, malus and lavender now live in the bed inside the perimeter wall in the formal gardens beside of the house and a massively long peony border discrete to itself shines its glory in May/June and can then be bypassed in favour of iris borders, a rose garden (difficult in thin free-draining soil and undergoing restoration), abundant herbaceous borders colour themed and flanking an immaculately mown grass path: a sunken garden reminding us of Great Dixter is a recent addition to commemorate a family anniversary.

We further enjoyed a stroll uphill through the tulip tree avenue around the meadow area of the park - sheep grazing - such a contrast to the historic formality we saw first! There we could still see the 18C walk around the perimeter of the park.
"

Jane Streatfield, Kent Gardens Trust

From the Smiths Hall Garden Gallery

Here are some of the latest pictures from the Smiths Hall photo gallery.

Visit the garden photo gallery

20

Looking Back Towards The Borders

19

Summer House Where Teas Are Served

18

Overlooking Pool Lawn

17

Formal Rose Garden

16

Lower Lawn

 

The Garden Paths

"We often forget how important these walks through the grounds were for the owners of big houses, their families and friends. They needed walks that were clean and free from mud so they would not dirty their fine shoes and clothes. We saw this at the recent KGT outing to Smiths Hall at West Farleigh where the network of paths is a wonderful survivor of a garden layout from the 1690s and there is an 18C woodland path around the perimeter and a viewpoint over the house."

Source:

Kent Garden Trust Newsletter - August 2008