Chenies Manor House & Gardens
Chenies Manor is a magnificent example of Elizabethan architecture with decorative brick walls and 23 distinctive chimneys. Dating back to 1180, the Grade I listed manor house and five-acre award-winning gardens are one of Violet and Tea’s favourite places to visit; we just love this garden!
Nestled in the Chilterns, this historic manor is 23 miles northwest of London, overlooking the Chess Valley. Visitors can get up-close to unparalleled history with the 13th Century dungeon, mediaeval well and even a Priest’s Hole.
Originally the home of the Cheyne family, it eventually passed by marriage to the wealthy Russells in 1526. Sir John Russell was a loyal servant in the royal household and was well rewarded with land, titles and privileges. In 1550 he became the 1st Earl of Bedford.
In the past, Chenies Manor has had several royal guests including Henry VIII with Anne Boleyn, and later with his fifth wife, Katherine Howard. Elizabeth I was also a regular visitor as the second Earl of Bedford was one of her Chief Ministers. The 4th Earl moved the family seat to Woburn Abbey around 1627 and the manor was tenanted until 1953, when the 12th Duke of Bedford died at the Endsleigh estate in Devon. His death was due to gunshot wounds and was recorded as an accident, but the saga was surrounded by mystery.
The neglected manor was put up for sale and bought by Colonel and Mrs Macleod Matthews in 1956. It is now the home of their son Charles, and his wife Boo Macleod Matthews. It is a popular location for filming period dramas and TV series including episodes of Lewis, Midsomer Murders, Me Before You, Little Dorrit and Poirot.
CHENIES MANOR GARDENS
Chenies Manor Gardens are an excellent example of an Arts and Crafts Garden. This quintessential English garden is beautifully laid out and lovingly tended by the family and staff. Their efforts were rewarded when they received the Historic Houses Association and Christie’s Garden of the Year Award in 2009.
Immaculate lawns, vibrant herbaceous borders and garden rooms filled with old-fashioned blooms such as forget-me-knots, lavender and cosmos are a pure delight. Height and structure are provided through the use of topiary and axial shaded walkways, dividing the garden into sections including a sheltered Sunken Garden, White Garden and two mazes. These are dotted with contemporary statuary that are engulfed by the effervescent planting and add to the charm of the garden. The Physic Garden grows plants traditionally used in medicine and is one of the most famous herb gardens in England. It has 10 beds of herbs arranged around the mediaeval well along with a kitchen produce bed. There is also a bed of scented plants grown specifically for use in fragrant potpourri; a haven for butterflies and bees.
In spring, Chenies Manor is the Show Garden for Bloms Tulips, showcasing some 6,000 tulips! Blom Tulips which was established in the Netherlands in 1850, became one of the founders of the famous Keukenhof Gardens and is a frequent winner at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
As you leave, stop by the Parish Church that abuts the grounds. Known as the Bedford Chapel, it remains the private chapel of the Russell family and the mausoleum is still used for family burials.
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Images © Eliza Ford