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The Manor Hemingford Grey

Historic Site

High Street
Hemingford Grey
PE28 9BN

Tel: 01480 463134

Add The Manor Hemingford Grey to your Itinerary

The Manor Hemingford Grey

Built about 1130 The Manor is one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses in the country.  It was the home of Lucy Boston from 1939 until her death in 1990 and the setting for her Green Knowe children’s books so going round the house and garden visitors feel that they are walking into the books as many of the toys and other features mentioned in the books exist.  The house, particularly, is a magical place for children to visit.  In the winter Lucy Boston sewed exquisite patchworks.   They form the only collection of this calibre worldwide which can be seen in the house where they were made.  During the second world war, Lucy Boston gave gramophone recitals in the Music Room (which is virtually unchanged from when the house was built).  The recitals were for airmen based locally and the old EMG gramophone is played during the tour.


When she bought the property the land in front of the house was a field.  In the Autumn of 1939 she planted over two hundred trees and shrubs plus, beside the towpath along the River Great Ouse which borders the garden, she planted a further one hundred sweet briar plants.  Many of these were washed away in the 1947 flood.


During the war years gardening took a back seat although she did plant eight yew bushes on either side of the path to the house, with the idea of creating topiary shapes – inspired by Levens Hall which she knew well as a child.


After the war Lucy seriously applied herself to gardening, planting old roses at a time when these were out of fashion, irises and herbaceous perennials.  She was advised in her choice of roses and irises by Graham Stuart Thomas who was at the Cambridge Botanic garden at the time.  In his first book on shrub roses he had a photograph of “La Reine Victoria” at The Manor.


The eight yew bushes bordering the path to the house were made into crowns, orbs and the dove of peace to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation.  In the early 1950s another twelve bushes were planted with the intention of making them into chess pieces.  These now stand in squares of purple leaved ajuga and grey leaved stachys to represent the black and white squares of the chess board.


Bordered by a moat on three sides and the River Great Ouse on the other, the garden is four acres with one acre deliberately left wilderness as a haven for wildlife.  It is divided into different sections, including the hidden garden with splendid mature yews.


There are large herbaceous borders full of scented plants with plenty of self-sown annuals intermingled.  The atmosphere is of carefree tranquility which means there are weeds as well as planned plantings.  It is not a manicured garden.  Lucy Boston’s philosophy was that it would be a pity if one won against the forest and wild flowers waiting to take over.


It is a perfect garden for accompanied children to explore both because of the books and because of the different spaces with many paths to follow.

Opening Times

Gardens (1 Jan 2020 - 31 Dec 2020)
House (by appointment only) (1 Jan 2020 - 31 Dec 2020)

* House open throughout the year but strictly by appointment only. Guided tours of the house available in May at 2pm (booking advisable)

Dates and times marked with a '*' are provisional and may be subject to change


Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Garden only - Adult£5.00 per ticket
Garden only - ChildFree
Garden only - Concession£4.50 per ticket
House & Garden - Adult£8.00 per ticket
House & Garden - Child£3.00 per ticket
House & Garden - Concession£7.00 per ticket
House & Garden -Family£22.00 per ticket

Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.

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