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After the sweeping parkland scenes of Lancelot “Capability” Brown came a reaction in country house gardening in favour of the domestic and the intimate. William Morris famously said that a garden “should look like a thing never to be seen except near a house”.

Arts & Crafts gardens harked back to medieval and Tudor times, courtly places in which to walk, talk, sit and study. Garden “rooms", enclosed by walls or hedges, gave privacy and variety.

The houses also looked back, inspired by the manor, college or cloister rather than Palladian grandeur. Modesty was a watchword for many of the new wealthy Victorian entrepeneurs, but their country houses were often deceptively large.

Such a house is Aber Artro Hall, rebuilt in the Arts & Crafts style in 1910 by the fashionable architect Charles Edward Bateman, who was heavily influenced by the great C. F. A. Voysey.

Several remarkable families have lived here. They include the Great War Poet Patrick Shaw-Stewart and the Gamwell sisters, Marian and Hope, who organised thousands of nurses to help on the battlefields of World War II through the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. Their mother had turned the house into an auxiliary hospital in World War I.

Paul and Carolyn Morgan (with now-retired head gardener Eddie Gough and advised by Mr Chris Bird of Sparsholt College, Hampshire) have added several new garden “rooms” in the Arts & Crafts manner, plus a Way of the Cross woodland walk. But what makes the Aber Artro gardens different is that the natural lie of the land, with banks, hills and the meeting of two rivers, creates its own special areas, barely needing the typical Arts & Crafts walls and hedges.

In both house and garden the Morgans have also echoed, 100 years later, the call of William Morris to turn away from the machine age and to favour local materials and crafts people. You will see all kinds of work in wood, metal and stone that
they have commissioned locally for the gardens in the last fifteen years.

Paul Morgan Carolyn Morgan

Read more about the history here