We were warmly greeted by Emily Caröe on our visit to Vann House Garden and by her brother Oliver, an architect and the grandson of the eminent Arts and Crafts architect W.D. Caröe. Oliver gave us a very informative introductory talk about the history of the house and its occupants including some of its illustrious visitors.
The house which is Tudor in origin (c. 1540) has undergone many alterations and additions since when it was formerly a yeoman’s house built on heavy Wealden clay but later made into a comfortable house for country house parties.
W.D. Caröe originally leased Vann House in 1906, before eventually purchasing it in 1930. He and his wife, the actress Grace Rendall, proceeded to lay out the garden in 1907-1908 and in 1911 their friend Gertrude Jekyll came from her home in Munstead to design the water garden. In 1948 the property passed to the next generation of Caröes in whose ownership it has been for 5 generations.
After coffee and delicious home-made cookies we were then left to explore the wonderful 5 acre garden at our leisure. Features included the yew walk, a Bargate stone pergola, superb vegetable garden, woodland glades of cyclamen and much else. The family have always had little help in the garden with now only two part-time gardeners.
Our visit here was a most enjoyable event at a unique venue (ours was the only group visit this year), not only because of its garden but also because of the architectural interest in the house itself.
Mark and Virginia Turner