The Gatton estate, Reigate is approximately 600 acres in size and split between National Trust managed land and the home of Royal Alexandra and Albert School managed by the Gatton Trust. The last owner of the Gatton estate was Sir Jeremiah Colman (owner between 1888 - 1942) developed and amended work previously undertaken by Lancelot Brown. Additions included a Japanese and a Rock Garden, the Pleasure Gardens and the Parterre.
In 1762 the owner of Gatton Park, Sir George Colebrooke, employed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to design the surrounding parkland at Gatton. Brown swept away the formal landscape that had been there before and replaced it with informal naturalistic plantings which accentuated the rolling landscape of the park. The main lake at Gatton Park was greatly expanded and the tributary lakes reshaped to include one of his trademark serpentine canals. The work at Gatton Park was completed in 1768 at a total cost of £3,055, this commission was within the top 25% of Brown’s commissions in terms of value.
The key elements of Brown’s design at Gatton Park have been worked on since 1996 by Gatton Trust volunteers who have both restored and maintained the parkland here. This is an ongoing project but the stunning features of Gatton Park can be enjoyed today as a result of their hard work. We were delighted when back in June we received the news that our joint Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid with the National Trust for a new project ‘Capability’ Brown’s Vision for Gatton was successful. On the practical side, this project will reinstate some of Brown’s lost designed viewpoints and tree plantings across the estate and see the installation of new parkland railings to replace broken fencing. It will also include new family learning and community engagement activities that hopefully will inspire people to learn more about their local heritage and the designed landscape.
At Gatton Park we run a wide selection of events and activities throughout the year for both adults and children. Our open days are the first Sunday of the month (February to October) and are the perfect way to explore the park. For more information please visit our website: www.gattonpark.com
About the Author: Emily Clark, Gatton Park.