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Mastel Family History

Mastel Family History

Great Dixter - home of garden designer Christopher Lloyd

This is probably the most beautiful house and gardens I have ever visited, and I make no apology for overwhelming you with photos.  Sadly, we were not permitted to take any photos inside the house, but you can view some on the Great Dixter website and learn more about the history of how this corner of paradise came into being.

 

The Visitor's Guide explains: "Built in the middle of the 15th century and then restored and enlarged by Sir Edwin Lutyens, Great Dixter is both a historic house and a family home.  Christopher Lloyd's father Nathaniel commissioned Lutyens in 1910 to clear the fifteenth-century house of later alterations, revealing the medieval splendour of the Great Hall, the largest surviving timber-framed hall in the country.  At the same time Lutyens added the domestic quarters necessary to accommodate an Edwardian household and a further wing, comprising a hall house of circa 1500, originally built in nearby Benenden, but saved from destruction, being dismantled piece by piece and re-erected at Great Dixter."

 

Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006), Nathaniel's youngest child, was passionate about the passing on of knowledge to the gardeners of the future.  He instigated a lecture programme which continues today with Head Gardener Fergus Garrett and his team.

As you first approach the house, there are no clues as to the sheer variety of small enclosed gardens spreading all around - each featuring a different type of planting to suit the conditions, but everywhere an abundance of flowers that all seem to be in bloom simultaneously.  How do they do that?

The further you move away from the house, the more natural the gardens become (though they are never formal) - with many wildflower meadows and water features - linked by mown paths.

The enormous compost heaps serve as plots for marrows and gourds.

As you leave, there is the Great Barn and Oast House, demonstrating how the hops were dried before being brewed.  This building is also used by the trainees to learn woodcraft skills, building hurdles with green wood cut from the estate.

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