Topiary at Levens Hall

Carefully trained trees, shrubs and hedges have graced Levens Hall and Gardens’ Topiary Garden since it was designed in the late 17th century, by Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, a former head gardener to James II, creator of the Wilderness Garden at Hampton Court Palace, and a student of Andre Le Notre, who designed the gardens at Versailles for Louis XIV.   There have been just ten head gardeners charged with tending the topiary garden since, including current head gardener, Chris Crowder.

Beaumont was commissioned by Levens Hall's owner, Colonel James Grahme, Keeper of the Privy Purse and Master of the Buckhounds of King James II.  When the garden was originally laid out, formal topiary and parterre gardens were the height of fashion and Levens Hall’s were designed so as to allow Colonel Grahme to take pleasure from looking out at them from the property’s first-floor windows.

Topiary in Context

Whilst the fashion changed over the centuries and many formal gardens were destroyed, particularly due to the Romantic Poets’ preference for wilder gardens that did not obscure views of the landscape, the gardens at Levens Hall survived.  This may have been down to fate, as a series of females inherited the property and were highly sympathetic to the topiary.

Guillaume Beaumont was influenced by the 17th Dutch garden style of formal, yet intimate, spaces nestling amidst more expansive gardens.  Another 10 acres of gardens can be explored at Levens Hall where visitors move from one environment to another, from topiary to Rose Garden,  Orchard, Willow Labyrinth and the 1994 Fountain Garden, created with pleached lime borders, to celebrate the garden’s 300th birthday.