Artington: Braboeuf Manor and Gardens

Braboeuf Manor, formerly part of the Manor of Artington and the Manor of Godalming, was the property of the same family for over 700 years, a rare occurrence. The first mention of the manor is c.900 AD, when the manor was a possession of King Alfred the Great. In 1171, the Crown granted the Manor to Master David of London for his services as envoy to the Pope in Rome in the negotiations that followed the murder of Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury.  In 1559, the Manor was held by Agnes, daughter of Joan and Robert Kemp, who married John Wight of London. The Manor remained in the the hands of the Wight family from 1559 to 1914. Samuel Pepys called on his uncle and aunt, the Wights, on August 8th 1668. The manor was purchased by The College of Law in 1964, which still own it today.

St Catherine's chapel and Braboeuf manor house, seat of J Wright Esqr Artist John Hassell (1767 - 1825) (Surrey History Centre Ref 4348/3/68/1)

St Catherine’s chapel and Braboeuf manor house, seat of J Wright Esqr
Artist John Hassell (1767 – 1825)
(Surrey History Centre Ref 4348/3/68/1)

The present house dates from 1586 when the previous house was remodelled and rebuilt, largely in timber. The house was restored in about the middle of the 19th Century; the east front having stone walls built in front of the original timber ones. The house had three storeys, the top one being in the roof. The house faced east, over extensive parkland. A single story north wing, added towards the end of the 17th Century, has since been pulled down, but it is not known when. A stained glass window by the main stairway is thought to have been added in the 1950s and contains a representation of the arms of the Wight family. A floor plan of the first and ground floors of the house from 1945 shows a dining room, billiard room, a hall, library, three bedrooms, dressing rooms, a conservatory and a flat roof. The dining room (and the flat roof over this), the conservatory, the dressing rooms and the back rooms are all marked as modern on the plan.

Photos of the Manor show extensive grounds, in total about 23 acres, according to the sales particulars from 1947. The house and grounds are surrounded by woodland, which was intersected by winding pathways “providing pleasant and sheltered walks”.

The grounds included a large area of parkland to the front of the house (to the east) and the matured pleasure gardens mainly to the south/south-west side. These contained, among other things, a rose garden, the sunken garden, two summer houses, the terraced garden, terraced lawns, the rock garden, the formal gardens, the kitchen and fruit gardens, the herb garden and the orchard and paddock. The rose garden was flanked by a pergola with brick piers (on the west side) and had a paved walk. The sunken garden contained a central lily pond, with stone paved surround and terraces. One of the summerhouses is in the corner of this garden.

The terraced garden adjoined the herb garden, and both of these led upwards to the southern boundary of the property and a thatched summerhouse. Attached to the Terraced lawns (on the south-west/west side) was a small formal garden with a sundial, flanked by tall yew hedges. The rock garden contained a water feature with water flowing down from the high woodland through a number of pools and waterfalls. A path wound through the garden and a stone bridge crossed the water feature.
The formal garden is described as having stone flagged paths and clipped box edgings and the kitchen and fruit gardens as being extensive and stocked with vegetables and soft fruit. In 1947 there were also three Heated Greenhouses in these gardens.

Among the many separate buildings in the grounds were Squash Racquets Court, which measured 32 ft. by 21 ft. with a gallery and a changing room, Pound Cottage where an employee lived rent free, the Chauffeurs Flat, three garages, a workshop, two stores, and wood and apple stores, as well as many other buildings. A small pond is also shown on the very first Ordnance Survey maps (1871 and 1913) and in some photos, but is not mentioned on the sales particulars of 1947 (when the house was purchased by Felix Fenston Esq. after Lt. Col J.A.C Youngers death). The gardens may have been partially designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1907, but this idea is unfounded.

Further information

Search for records related to Braboeuf on this website

View the HER record for Braboeuf Manor and Gardens

3 thoughts on “Artington: Braboeuf Manor and Gardens”

  1. My father was gardener here in the early 1930s. I wonder what state the gardens are now in?

  2. Barbara hudspeth says:

    Wanting to know about the house that was in the grounds where now the library stands in ewell

  3. Melissa Walker-Scott says:

    Apparently I’m related to Agnes Kemp and John Wight (like 11th cousin) so the heritage website sent me the info and I wanted to see more of where my ancestry is from. So cool! Wish I could get there to see the family coat of arms. Maybe someday.

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