introduction to Bradenham Hall Garden & Arboretum
manufacture and sell our own high quality garden labels
garden's layout, maps of the walks, colour photographs
information, the Arboretum's layout and a list of our trees
we're open and how to find us, with maps to print
brief history and background information
Hall (earlier known as "West Bradenham Hall") is an
early Georgian house, more in the Queen Anne style and from its
elevated position, faces almost due South.
For long periods of time, the house has been tenanted rather than
lived in by the owners and reputedly amongst these tenants was
Lady Hamilton, who is said to have entertained Lord Nelson as
a guest. Since the
house was built in about 1740, it had been owned principally by
the Smyth, Haggard (Rider's
dog 'Spice' is buried here) and
Penrose families until 1951 when Dick & Jane Allhusen bought
it, together with 1500 acres of surrounding land and woods.
In the 1940's it was occupied by various army units, one of which
left a legacy of numerous heaps of empty tins and literally thousands
of broken glass medicine bottles in many parts of the garden,
particularly on the West side. Several dozen concrete Nissen hut
foundations were an unwanted additional burden.
A number of local people thought that the house could never be
properly renovated and lived in again (the new owners had to start
by taking practically the whole roof off).
Other than the courtyard and walled garden areas (both covered
by a massive crop of long established deadly nightshade), there
was no garden worthy of the name. The area to the North East was
entirely occupied by a derelict canker-ridden apple orchard and
the (unused) front drive ran through a fenced off grass pasture
grazed by the dairy herd. There were also approximately 200 wasp
and several hornet nests which had to be dealt with during the
Plans for the garden were devised in about 1953 and continue to
The garden's development
no experience whatsoever or knowledge of gardening, the Allhusens
were none the less determined to create a setting for their future
family's home which would provide interest at all times of the
year. Perhaps riskily, they deliberately avoided garden designers.
The lay-out, for better or worse, is therefore entirely their
own creation. They of course needed, and received, excellent detailed
advice in the early days from expert plantsmen such as Frank Knight,
George Taylor of Wisbech and Geoffrey Chadbund.
prevailing wind is South West, so that, reasonably protected
by woods on the North and East sides, the owners' first task
was to plant the windbreak on the West side in 1953, which also
saw the creation of the terrace and the sheltered children's
to the wind problem, they then had to create a series of rooms,
surrounded by yew hedges, for the flower and shrub areas.
took them 4 years to accumulate enough knowledge (and confidence)
to know what they wanted initially to plant in the arboretum.
This was started in 1955 and then expanded Westwards from the
front drive in three stages until, in 1970, it occupied the
whole of the Top Park.
Naturalised Narcissi, in single variety clumps (mostly of about
200 bulbs), were planted in the grass flanking both sides of
the curving front drive.
The trees and most shrubs were (and remain) labelled, on either
path or North side, and bear the date of their planting. This
may not be to everyone's taste but it can be a convenience.