Wednesday, July 17 , 2019


Hidden Treasures and garden ornaments at Great Comp Garden

William Kent Longleat Aged Garden Urn on PedestalAged garden ornament Longleat urn and pedestal at Great Comp by Carolyn Ripley

Great Comp Garden is a true hidden gem in the heart of Kent, located in Platt near Sevenoaks, a mere stone’s throw from Borough Green Station, the M26 and M20.  The seven-acre garden is set around an early seventeenth century manor house and features sweeping lawns with wonderful planting, encircled by meandering woodland paths and hidden follies.

17th Century Manor House at Great Comp surrounded by English country garden plantingGreat Comp’s 17th Century Manor House: Photo by Carolyn Ripley

It possesses a romantic and timeless quality that really soothes the soul.  In an increasingly frenetic world, where many of us have little outside space, it is so important to cherish these special places.  We encourage everyone to visit and take home a little magic, and definitely a little cake from the delightful tea rooms.

White Magnolia Tree in the sunshine at Great CompMagnificent Magnolias at Great Comp Garden: Photo by Carolyn Ripley

Eric and Joy Cameron: Gardening with Love 

Black and white photo of Eric and Joy Cameron

Eric and Joy Cameron

The garden, as it is now, was developed with lifelong passion by Roderick (known as Eric) and Joy Cameron, who bought the property in 1957.  One notable former owner was Mrs Frances J Heron Maxwell, who was a suffragette campaigner for women’s sports, and put Great Comp on the map as a centre for women’s cricket.

When the Camerons purchased Great Comp, it was just under five acres and bore scars from both World Wars.  Love and devotion saw the garden revived and extended, so by 1980 it was seven acres, containing well over a thousand different trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

Classic Chilstone

Significantly, Great Comp houses an impressive collection of Chilstone garden ornaments, with some dating back to the early Chilstone days, bearing the original lead identification strips.  You will find the Longleat Urn nestled in the woodland walk and the Pope’s Urn looking stunning against a backdrop of magnolias, tulips and grasses.  As well as these grand stone urns, there are a number of other Chilstone highlights at Great Comp, including many aged statues, garden ornaments, as well as an Ionic Temple.

Aged Handmade Cast Stone Temple surrounded by purple flowers and treesAged Chilstone Ionic Temple without roof at Great Comp Garden: Photo by Carolyn Ripley

Kent himself would have particularly loved the Italian garden and would have perhaps given a wry smile upon seeing the naturalistic style of planting reinvented by today’s generation of garden designers.

Lasting Legacy: A Garden for All

Having lost his beloved Joy in 1992, Eric continued to work tirelessly in the garden.  Eric passed away in 2009, but both he and Joy had already established the Great Comp Charitable Trust in 1982, ensuring the garden remains open to the public as a tranquil haven for all.

The Dyson Salvia Collection

RHS Award-Winning Garden Curator, William Dyson, has been a part of Great Comp for over twenty-five years and always thinks of Eric when making decisions about the garden today: “I often imagine him looking down upon the garden, so I am always striving to preserve the magic he and Joy created here”.

Red Salvias in focus, soft white flowers in background

Salvias at Great Comp Garden

William established Dyson’s Nurseries, adjacent to Great Comp, having honed his skills in the garden with Eric.  He is now internationally respected and famed for his salvias, which you can see burning brightly at Great Comp, alongside dahlias, fuchsias, kniphofias and an array of ornamental grasses.

So much to see…

A number of shows, plays and musical events are held throughout the year, so plan your visit if you don’t want to miss them.

We would love to see your Chilstone photos!

Aged Cast Stone Mushroom Garden Ornament with moss and lichen growing on itAged Chilstone Garden Ornament at Great Comp Garden: Photo by Carolyn Ripley

Do you know of any other gardens and venues with classic Chilstone pieces?  If so, we would love to hear from you, so send us your pictures.

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