History of the Gardens at Fanhams Hall, an Exclusive Venue
The Gardens at Fanhams Hall were created between 1900 and 1910 by Richard and Anne Page-Croft. Nowadays they are carefully and lovingly being restored with the help and guidance of the English Heritage Board.
THE ORIGINAL ENTRANCE
The original approach to the Hall is marked by the very old Horse Chestnut tree that provides an ample supply of conkers.
The red bricked wall shows the original entrance. The two circular holes on either side, cut much later, are called Moon Gates and are of Japanese origin, set due north they follow the moon’s path east to west. On the south face of the wall grows the last remaining Fig, however you can still see the marks from the previous plantings and training.
QUEEN ANNE GARDEN
The Queen Anne Garden has seen many changes since its construction in the 18th century. The paths are very ornate, in the centre depicting the Coat of Arms of previous owners, National Westminster Bank.
The Lotus Flower fountain dominates the Formal Gardens and is a fine example of the original influence throughout the gardens. The Lotus Flower or Water Lily is of special significance to the Japanese Buddhist.
The gardens are called Koraku-en (Joy After) and the circular path is a pilgrimage. It starts at the wooden framed Wisteria Walk. On the left the Indian Bean Tree (American Indian) represents the Sun and on the right, the tall Pine trees are the sky.
So much could be written about the Japanese Gardens, which was laid out by Professor Suzuki in 1900. Mountains, waterfalls, bridges, lakes, trees and stones, each has great significance. The Maple trees provide a fantastic glow of colour from brilliant gold to scarlet red. The Japanese Tea House and the little ‘Shinto’ pavilion are genuine and purchased from Japan with the granite lanterns. The lily pond is shaped like a fox and it is crossed by Shinkyo (Spirit Bridge).
The Austrian House was purchased at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.The arched bridge spanning the Iris pond is a replica from the house of Impressionist painter Claude Monet in Giverney, Northern France, who often used his pond as a subject for paintings.
TREES AND MOUNT FUJI-YAMA
A particular feature of the garden is its unusual collection of trees.
The Dawn Redwood or Fossil tree was believed to be extinct until a plant was rediscovered in 1947 at a remote temple in China. Our tree is one of its descendant sapling and was planted by the Japanese Ambassador in 1959. The memorial plaque is at the base of the tree, labelled Metasequia glyptostaboides. The distorted tree close to the Redwood is a native Hazel and it is an excellent example of Japanese ‘Bonsia’ work.
The large mound at the extreme right represents Mount Fuji and is called Fuji-Yama (Little Fuji). It is a typical feature of this type of garden and makes an excellent viewing point.
The red barked Strawberry tree is a native to Ireland. The fruit is not very edible, but you can make jam. Lime trees (not related to citrus/lemon) earned their name from the sticky ’Honey Dew’ or ‘Bird Lime’ found on the leaves. Sometimes called Linden from the Dutch word Lindebaum, the wood is very supple and essential in the
manufacture of canal boats. This adjacent avenue is being trained in a traditional European style called ‘Pleaching’