The exotic garden at Great Dixter. Photo © Jonathan Buckley courtesy the Great Dixter Charitable Trust
The future of Great Dixter, famed for its garden and its Grade I listed timber framed house, has been secured after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) earmarked over £4 million towards a £7 million project to safeguard it.
The endorsement means the charitable trust that runs the house and garden can now bring the entire estate under the ownership of the trust, conserve family papers and collections, repair the historic buildings and develop the training of horticultural students.
Great Dixter contains one of the largest surviving medieval timber-framed halls in the country with the inspirational garden being established and maintained by the Lloyd family over the 20th and 21st centuries.
The 57 acre estate was most famously home of the famous 20th century gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd (Christo) who spent his long and distinguished horticultural career practising and communicating his dynamic approach to gardening, while also ensuring the estate was self-sufficient and sustainable. His articles in the Guardian and Country Life are often cited as influencing horticultural practice across the world.
“We are delighted - Dixter deserves it,” said Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener and Chief Executive of the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, “Christo left us a very special legacy and people love to come and be inspired. The HLF has given us a fantastic launch pad for our future plans. Now the hard work begins.”
The Great Hall at Dixter. © Perry Rodriques, courtesy the Great Dixter Charitable Trust
As well as the maintenance of the estate and its buildings there is a long tradition of ‘nurturing people and plants’ at Great Dixter, with gardeners, students and volunteers, all living and working together. The project will improve the educational facilities, providing opportunities for more people to experience intensive and experimental horticulture and other activities essential to maintaining a sustainable estate today.
There is also to be greater public access to the Dixter archive, which is a time capsule of the 20th century with records of lives led at Great Dixter from the arrival of the Lloyds in June 1912 (the Lloyds bought the estate in 1910).
A wealth of original drawings, journals and historic photographs are contained within the archive, which also includes correspondence between Nathaniel Lloyd, Christo’s father, and Sir Edwin Lutyens the great early 20th century British architect, who was commissioned to restore and enlarge the decaying medieval house to accommodate the needs of an Edwardian family.
Success with the Stage 1 HLF bid, submitted in September 2007, will mean the project team can draw up detailed plans for a Stage 2 submission to the HLF in Autumn 2008. A decision early in 2009 would hopefully provide funding for work to begin.