History in the Making

I have recently received some great news; somewhat unrelated to Harefield Barn, but nonetheless a personal joy which I wanted to share.

I have recently received some great news; somewhat unrelated to Harefield Barn, but nonetheless a personal joy which I wanted to share.

I have talked before about how much my brother, sister and I have been influenced by both our Mother and Grandmother as far as gardens and gardening are concerned, and my early memories are filled with our own garden as children, and regular visits to our Granny’s garden in West Sussex.

Due to a huge amount of work and dedication by Gwendolyn van Paasschen, its current ‘custodian’, that same Sussex garden – Denmans – has now been listed on the Historic England site as a Grade II Heritage garden.  This beautiful garden was originally created by my Granny when she and her family bought it in 1946, and she remained there for the rest of her life continually developing and extending the area; bringing in new ideas and inspiration from her travels.  As she grew older, she had the amazing sense and foresight and perhaps a little good luck to find the perfect way for Denmans to evolve by entering into an agreement with international garden designer John Brookes.  Granny remained living in the central cottage, surrounded by her beloved garden, and John developed the stables and clock house into his home and garden design school; and yes, you guessed it, that is where the inspiration for the name of our own Clock House came from.  Of course, ours is absolutely nothing like the beautiful old brick buildings at Denmans, but the name does stem from that childhood memory.

Denmans Garden has been through many phases over the years, and I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say that for a little while, it had ‘lost it’s way’, but I am absolutely thrilled that it is now back to its former glory and looking absolutely spectacular!

Gwendolyn and Mike  have an amazing respect and indeed love for the history of Denmans, and it’s creators, and along with their team have worked tirelessly over recent years bringing it back to life.  Every season, regenerated areas bring rediscoveries of plants that have been lying dormant or hidden beneath the overgrowth for years, and even some of my old family snaps are being used to recreate original John Brookes plantings.

It gives me enormous pride that Denmans Garden has been awarded this historical recognition, as it means it will now be protected into the future, along with a piece of our own family history.  And almost the greatest slice of good fortune in the whole thing, is that Gwendolyn came to Denmans and fell in love with the place.  Under her guidance and stewardship, the garden will remain a truly beautiful place and peaceful corner of an every changing world.  I hope too, that Gwendolyn will, in time, be able to make her mark on Denmans – a garden, after all, is an ever changing canvass and should bear witness to all those who have been a part in its creation.  We owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

If you’re ever in West Sussex, do go and visit https://www.denmans.org – we hope to be back before too long.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1468114  (Denmans Historic England Listing which gives more history about the garden)

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