Fringe Box



What Now for Munstead Wood?

Published on: 21 Apr, 2024
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2024

Red rhododendron at Munstead Wood near Godalming.

The National Trust purchased Munstead Wood in spring 2023 with support from the government, securing it for “public enjoyment and benefit”. Previously it was a private residence for over 75 years, hosting a small number of garden tours each year.

The Trust is now exploring how best to carve a future for this remarkable home and garden which safeguards its unique character and enables public access.

An aerial view of the home of pioneering garden designer and writer, Gertrude Jekyll. Photo Peter Wright

Its ultimate goal is to provide access: physically, virtually, intellectually and emotionally, reaching beyond the site’s physical boundaries to share its magic and horticultural heart, with a local, national and international audience.

It also aims to bring contemporary relevance to the life of Gertrude Jekyll, her home, work, and incredible influence, as well as her successful partnership with Sir Edwin Lutyens.

As a local treasure, the Trust also wants to ensure Munstead Wood brings benefit to the local community and helps to shine a spotlight on the rich Arts and Crafts pedigree of West Surrey.

Work is now under way to determine the condition of the house and garden and identify any conservation and restoration work needed. Alongside this, they have begun fundraising to support future work.

A white rose in the garden that will soon be more accessible to the public.

Just as any new owner takes time to be well acquainted with a new home, they also want to ensure that they have the chance to get to know the site. As they move through their first year, each season in the garden brings with it the opportunity for the team to meet face-to-face with many of the garden’s treasures. Long-term head gardener Annabel is always on hand to oversee the introductions.

As the Trust discovers more about Munstead Wood, they also want to learn more about what it means to the wider world. They are reaching out to neighbours, the wider local community and industry experts alike to ask them how they feel about the place, what are their hopes for its future, and to share any concerns they may have.

In recent months they have welcomed a wide group of guests, including VantagePoint’s editor, to explore the question of why Munstead matters. They were delighted by the number of people who brightened their chilly winter workshops with their enthusiasm, passion for the place and insightful contributions to the discussions. Continuing an open dialogue with interested parties will be an important part of their development process.

Solid oak trusses are a prominent feature of the upstairs gallery, which was designed as a display area for Gertrude Jekyll’s artefacts.

A remarkable aspect of the property is the wealth of documentary evidence available to consult. Not only Miss Jekyll’s many books, photographs and articles, but both she, and Edwin Lutyens inspired a wealth of written material and opinion that can be accessed. The Trust is grateful too for the support of organisations such as The Lutyens Trust, Surrey History Centre and Godalming Museum in giving access to archive material.

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