Gardens & Grounds
Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the hilltop site of the Museum’s home, Claverton Manor, takes full advantage of the spectacular views over the Limpley Stoke Valley and River Avon.
The grounds total some 125 acres, of which 35 are open to visitors. The parkland, with its majestic old cedars, provides a circular walk through ancient meadows, while above the manor a path has been created through woodland.
Remnants of the old Italianate style manorial pleasure gardens and parkland, dating from the 1820s, can be seen within the grounds, including period features such as the grotto, the balustrade and curtain walling, as well as ornamental stone work. This work is attributed to George Vivian, son of the original owner of Claverton Manor, John Vivian.
A highlight of the gardens is the Mount Vernon Garden. In 1785, when George Washington was enlarging the garden of Mount Vernon his home on the Potomac River, Virginia, the Fairfaxes of Writhlington, near Bath, sent him plants, seeds and a farmer.
The flower garden at the American Museum, is similar in size to its American counterpart. It includes the white picket fence, box hedges, rose bushes and seed house – in which George Washington taught his stepchildren.
We have recently engaged the services of Eric Groft, a partner in the well-known Oehme van Sweden landscape architectural firm located in Washington DC. We have asked Eric to expand the American elements in our landscape, primarily by building on the success of the Mount Vernon Garden as he considers other iconic elements that might be added to the grounds. These may include a children’s (learning) garden, a walled garden for the propagation of colonial plants, new access routes to and around the Museum, the creation of a new cherry orchard, perhaps even a small garden centre. Eric’s firm is best known for its pioneering role in introducing the ‘new American garden’, which includes natural vistas and an investment in the traditional prairie grasses to soften prospects. It will be most interesting to see how this approach can be introduced here at Claverton.