|The Owl House Gardens|
|The thumbnails below are linked to larger pictures
Having made over Clandeboye the family estate in Ireland to her son Sheridan the fifth Marquess of Dufferin & Ava, Lady Dufferin was searching in 1952 for a modest property within reach of London as a weekend retreat.
She lost her heart to Owl House Cottage, named after the night smugglers or 'owlers' who traded English wool for French brandy, using hoot-calls to warn of tax inspectors.
The cottage with its crooked chimney, built in the early 1500's, needed considerable renovation and over many years both the house and the newly created extensive gardens culminated in what we find today.
Lady Dufferin created expansive lawns, woodland walks and sunken water gardens. The gardens provide the perfect setting for quiet contemplation, pleasant walks and the perfect picnic. The gardens are at their best in spring with swathes of daffodils and carpets of bluebells and primroses, but additional careful planting ensures displays to give pleasure at any season.
Lady Dufferin was so proud and delighted with the results of her hard work, that she wished to share it with other garden enthusiasts. Hence on June 19th 1960 the gardens were officially opened to the public by her friend Raine, Viscountess Lewisham, later Countess Spencer, (the late Princess of Wales' stepmother). Lady Dufferin died in May 1998 and was buried in the family cemetery at Clandeboye.
The gardens can be found off the A21 / B2169 near Lamberhurst in Kent.
Note (September 2007)
I am informed by a recent visitor, that these gardens are now closed to the Public.