Barrington Court, an imposing Tudor country house in Somerset, was completed during the reign of Henry VIII and is owned by the National Trust who acquired the empty ruin in 1907 – their first large, country-house acquisition – and one which was going to require enormous investment, which the Trust did not have.  However, they found a wealthy tennant, Colonel Arthur Lyle (who later formed part of the Tate & Lyle sugar company) – who had been looking for a property in which to showcase his extensive collection of tudor artifacts – from doors to staircases. He took the Court on a 100-year lease, and proceeded to completely gut and refurbish the whole interior so that it was of the period yet imported from elsewhere. The staircase, for example is from a Scottish castle.

The Court was completed by the Daubney family in 1540 and was of the very latest style of architecture, with two forward-projecting wings forming an ‘E’ shape with the central grand porch also projecting forward, barley-twist chimneys and ornate stonework finials.  Colonel Lyle was thrilled to uncover enormous Tudor fireplaces and also a minstrels gallery behind some of the later additions and proceeded to renovate the property to his own, exacting standards.

This included the installation of an Arts and Crafts series of walled gardens in1917, for which he engaged the services of the architect J.E. Forbes working in collaboration with Gertrude Jekyll who did the planting schemes.  The white garden in mid-May was planted up on a grand scale with tulip ‘Spring Green’ emerging from a carpet of white mysotis (originally a rose and peony garden in Jekyll’s plans), white wisteria overhanging the walls, white iris and a sea of white aquilegia.  There is also a rose and iris garden, a dramatic lily garden of hot-coloured flowers in summer (afire with glowing orange/red/yellow azaleas reflected in the waters of the lily pond in late spring) and a large, walled kitchen garden with gravel paths and espaliered fruit trees against the walls.

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