Research & Conservation Committee

The Research & Conservation Committee concentrates on the surveying of properties throughout the County.  It has listed gardens of interest and importance and has surveyed many of them, with their owners’ agreement, the surveys then being deposited in the County Records Office.

Members of the Committee first select a site, then approach the owners and visit the garden to record all its features, any artefacts as well as important and unusual trees.  They follow up their visits by conducting research into the history of the site at the Local History Library and the County Records Office, both of which are in Taunton and, when necessary at The National Monuments Record Centre at Swindon, The British Library and the Public Record Office.

Examples of some of the garden projects in which the Trust has been involved:

  • The very first survey was of Weacombe House West Quantoxhead in 1990.  From this small beginning, many gardens have been surveyed including both well known gardens such as Lytes Cary and East Lambrook, and less well known (but potentially more vulnerable ones) such as Pylle Manor, Wayford Manor and Nettlecombe Court.
  • Highlights include the discovery of a greenhouse designed by Joseph Paxton at Orchardleigh (the only other example is at Heligan), and at Marsden, ornamental water gardens designed by Stephen Switzer, an early 1700s international designer who brought the style of Versailles to England.

Current projects are recently completed surveys at Barwick Park and Burton Pynsent.  Surveys in progress at Mells Manor, Yarlington House, Simonsbath (a potentially lost Richard Payne Knight garden) and Cloford Manor.