For one day this year, people will get to experience the hidden beauty of Urchfont Manor, near Devizes.

The house and gardens, described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as 'one of the best houses of its type in Wiltshire', was used between 1947 and 2013 as both a residential college for adult education and as a conference centre.

It was purchased for a six-figure sum in 2013 by Londoners Chris Legg and Eleanor Jones, pictured, who completed a major restoration of its somewhat neglected grounds.



Now, on June 19, the manor’s outdoor space will be showcased as part of the National Garden Scheme.

And after the cancellation of the Urchfont Scarecrow Festival due to Covid, the day will double as a charity fundraiser.

Local artisans and stallholders will be scattered through the 13-acre grounds.

Eleanor personally oversaw and mucked in throughout the restoration process, including creating a kitchen garden which now provides fresh fruit and vegetables for the house.

She said: “We’re thrilled that the garden is now at a point where it has been accepted as part of the National Garden Scheme and will open to the public for the very first time. We can’t wait to welcome the local community – and wider world into the gardens – on June 19.”

The Leggs commissioned RHS Gold medal winning landscape designers del Buono Gazerwitz to design their contemporary garden.


Wiltshire Council leader Philip Whitehead, who lives in Urchfont, told the Gazette

: “It will raise money for the charities that have lost out due to the unfortunate cancellation of the Urchfont Scarecrow Festival again this year. It will also showcase food and goods from local suppliers, and it sounds like it will be a brilliant day.”

People can experience the gardens on June 19 between 11am and 5.30pm. Adults cost £10 and children go free.

There will be free parking. Tickets can be pre-booked via the National Garden Scheme website here.

All proceeds from garden tickets sales will go to support the nursing and health charities supported by the National Garden Scheme while all proceeds from the refreshment tent will support Urchfont village charities.

Photos by Jeremy Freedman

Urchfont Manor

Urchfont Manor

Urchfont Manor:

An earlier building sat to the west of Urchfont during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, and it was rebuilt between 1678 and 1700 by Sir William Pynsent, who was MP for Devizes.

In 1765, his son died without an heir and left his estates in Somerset and Wiltshire to William Pitt the Elder, a thanks for Pitt’s opposition to a new tax of ten shillings on each hogshead of cider.

Pitt sold his newly aquired Urchfont property to the third Duke of Queensberry, and the house was later bought by another Devizes MP - Simon Watson Taylor. Around 1843, the name of the property changed from Urchfont House to Urchfont Manor.

In 1928, the MP’s heirs sold the house to Hamilton Rivers Pollock, a barrister who lived there until his death in 1941.

For the remainder of the Second World War - Urchfont Manor was used a home for children evacuated from London.

At the end of the war, in 1945, the Manor and surrounding land was then picked up by Wiltshire Council.

It was given its Grade 2 listing in 1962.

While Urchfont Manor was an educational facility, it offered courses in subjects such as performing arts and media, either as day courses, short residential stays or summer schools.

It was sold to the Leggs in 2013 for £2.7 million.