Thursday, June 30, 2011


It has been several years since I visited England (I try to go every other year, but this year has been too busy), so instead of a real life visit, I am contenting myself with virtual visits through books and the internet.

One place that has always intrigued me is Highgrove House, the family home of the Prince of Wales since 1980.  The house was built in 1798, and over the years passed through ownership of various families.  

This is the earliest picture of Highgrove that I could find from the 'Prince Charles era'.  When Prince Charles purchased the house in 1980, it increased speculation that he was preparing to settle down (and indeed, his marriage to Diana took place in February of 1981). Based on the aerial photograph of Highgrove, it appears that only one side has a driveway entrance - note the design of the facade of the house, with its limestone portico.  (image source)

According to Wikipedia, Prince Charles embellished the plain exterior of the building in the late 1980s by adding a new balustrade, pediment, and classical pilasters of Prince Charles' own design. I am guessing that this image (showing Prince William and Prince Harry at least a decade older) was after the front of the house was transformed.  The new pediment makes the three levels of the house relate to one another, and the front door seems more approachable and friendly.  The addition of the greenery also softens the look of the house.  (image source)

Another view from the same vantage point.  I really like the design of the double front doors and the overlight with an interesting pattern.  I wonder why the one window above the front door has shutters, when the other windows do not?

Prince Charles is an avid gardener, and the grounds of Highgrove have provided endless inspiration for him (it is reputed that he has spent more than £500,000 on the gardens).  Several books have been written on the gardens of Highgrove (which include a wild garden, a formal garden, and a kitchen garden), including the Gardens of Highgrove (click here) and Organic Gardening (click here).  There is also a book on the Highgrove Estate.  

The wild garden area changes appearance all year long. Image source

Oak pavilion in the gardens.  Note the chimney pots and urns on the balustrade. (image source)

The flickr account for the British Monarchy has some beautiful informal pictures from Highgrove.

An allee of trees leads to the side view of the house. Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy

A better view of the gate at the end of the vista. Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy

An interesting dovecote or gardening shed.  Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy

When researching this post, I came across an intricate chocolate replica of Highgrove.  Click here to read article.

For more English country house inspiration, I highly recommend the book The English Country House, by Mary Miers.  The book is my favorite coffee table book at the moment (taking a place of honor in the living room), but it is also a wonderful read full of the stories of quite a few remarkable houses in England.  Click here to view or order on Amazon.

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  1. If that does not fit the "idyllic country home" description to a tee, don't know what does. Absolutely magnificent in the most understated way, the gardens, the lush natural looking foliage, the symmetry are all just incredible and such a treat for the eyes and then seeing Dianas beautiful face just made it perfect.

  2. The home and gardens are magnificent. The allee of trees, moss coverd columns and garden gate are so beautiful. Such deatil put into the grounds of the property. We need Prince Charles' landscape budget. Good call on making the changes to the front elevation...giving a very classic look.

  3. I would never have guessed such recent improvements had been done, Charles did a great job of making his renovations appear to be a permanent part of the house!

  4. Wow... thank you for the virtual trip! :-)

    This one really made me want to get the 1st plane to England.... what a magical place!

    Have a wonderful day, Holly!


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  5. I had just been reading a book on Highgrove and this post is just perfect! Well done!

  6. WOW - I learn something every time I read one of your posts. I did not know that Prince Charles altered the front view of High Grove. He improved it. Do you know the original architect?

  7. Wow, this is such a great post! A virtual trip is a great idea, thanks for sharing! :)
    -Jessica & Holly

  8. Gardening organizations can visit the gardens by appointment, which are hard to get as numbers are limited. But I would love to visit.

    Exterior louvered shutters are uncommon on houses such as this in England. But this pair offers just the perfect aesthetic punctuation! All is beautifully done.

  9. wonderful post heather

    one of my favorite british garden styles is shown here to perfection; the wild aspect of the meadow backed by the severely sheared yews......great contrast isn't it?

    i studied landscape in england and annually take small groups to english gardens and homes, mostly private. i am in line for a 2012 visit to highgrove. never guaranteed but promising. want to come?

  10. thanks for the virtual trip to england! it really is spectacular isn't it? I haven't been in 20 years and I think it's time I start planning a trip!
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  11. Beautiful tour! I imagine one could spend weeks there and never truly see it all. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Thank you for the tour. I would love to go in person but am grateful for this opportunity to see and enjoy.

  13. Oh I just love the English houses!! I had this book since a year and I love to look at the pictures over and over!!

  14. Such a stunning home...I have been meaning to order this book so thank you for the prompt...xv

  15. I've always wanted to go to Highgrove - to see the gardens as well. I love their products - the biscuits are addictive. I own this book - it's fabulous!!

  16. I have just returned from a visit to Highgrove. It took a lot of string pulling for our group to get a time slot. No cameras or cell phones allowed. The field of wildflowers is awesome. It is a very personal garden which makes it so special.

  17. my favorite!I just wish there were more pictures of the inside. very very few that i have ever found. even in the books - it's always aobut the gardens!!!
    are you still selling the intaglios? i need some for a client.

  18. my favorite!I just wish there were more pictures of the inside. very very few that i have ever found. even in the books - it's always aobut the gardens!!!
    are you still selling the intaglios? i need some for a client.

  19. I visited Highgrove in 2011 with my English boyfriend.....I live in the US. It was quite beautiful and the staff are very gracious. We toured the gardens and then had tea. However some of Englands' National Trust Properties are just as beautiful and you can go inside the estates owned by National Trust. Part of Highgrove is near a noisy highway. In fact Prince Charles has a private spot where he goes to meditate and it is right next to the noisy highway....one would think that he would have chosen a quieter residence.....but it was quite and interesting experience. Chatsworth in the Peak District of England is also worth seeing....go and spend the day....it is the ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.


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