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 Jekyll and Lutyens

A local introduction to their lives and work
By David Coombs


The buildings and hedgerows, streets, heaths, villages and lanes of south west Surrey engaged and affected the lives and work of Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens. Both were very familiar with Godalming and its ancient High Street.

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) spent her childhood in Bramley and returned as a young woman to Munstead where she created her own garden and remained until her death.

Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) came as a child to Thursley, studied local buildings and received his early architectural commissions from nearby friends and connections.

Each achieved international recognition, both separately and in partnership. Their work and influence can be found throughout the British Isles and in France, the United States, South Africa and India.


Godalming museum's garden is conceived as a cottage garden in the Surrey style created by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens, using her ideas of planting and his of design.  Lutyens used traditional materials and demanded the finest craftsmanship.
Gardens & Ornamental Pathway
The museum garden shows several features often found in his designs: stone paving, herringbone brick paths, old mill stones, dry stone walls and broad curving steps.

Miss Jekyll made regular use of a wide range of plants with certain favorites of her own: lavenders, bush and rambler roses, clematis, lilies, hollyhocks, stachys and pintos with clipped yew and ferns. Scent was important to her as were the massing and sweep of colours; textures and shapes were carefully considered and harmonised. All were directly related to the constraints and opportunities of the overall design and the spaces available.

When they first began to work together both would visit the site; as Lutyens's work took him further and further away from Surrey he would survey the future garden and send the details to Miss Jekyll for suggestions and later to work out the planting plan. Often the plants would be sent from her own garden's nurseries at Munstead Wood, as her meticulous notebooks, preserved in Godalming Museum, indicate. Overall, the partnership resulted in the blending of the formal and natural garden philosophies of the period.

In 1905 Lutyens designed a small house, Millmead, in Bramley as a speculation for Miss Jekyll, her own planting scheme for the garden is one of the few that remain. It is this and Lutyens's delightful Summerhouse there that provided the inspiration for the Godalming Museum garden, which has been designed by Michael and Frances Edward's with the advice of Jane Brown, and built with funds donated by the Hamamelis Trust.

If you would like to know more about Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens, then please read on...  (Five more pages)

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