Great DixterHastings
House and Gardens
Near Northiam
East Sussex TN31 6PH
 
 
 
Many visitors to England want to see picturesque old buildings and pretty gardens full of flowers.  Great Dixter near Northiam in south-east England completely meets both these criteria.  The history of the house and garden is fascinating and the garden continues to reflect the philosophies of its late owner, Sir Christopher Lloyd.
 
The house is really two medieval houses combined, and the garden which looks as if it has been there for centuries was actually started in 1910.  When the Lloyds moved to Dixter, there were a few trees and two mixed orchards.
 
In 1909, businessman Nathanial Lloyd (Christopher’s father) acquired an old farm with a 15th century half-timbered house at Dixter.  Nathanial moved a 16th century house of similar style from Benenden in Kent to Dixter and employed the architect Edwin Lutyens to combine the two houses into one.  The resulting larger house was christened Great  Dixter.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Lastminute here:     External Link
 
 
The House
This romantic medieval manor house contains a Great Hall, Parlour, Solar and Yeoman’s Hall. The original 15th century house was built for Richard Wakehurst who was married to Elizabeth Etchingham.  The Etchinghams were related by marriage to the Dalyringues of Bodiam Castle.  The coats of arms of these prominent local families can be seen worked into the Great Hall.
 
The Great Hall was the public entertainment area and thus quite grand.  It has a hammerbeam roof and dates from 1440-1454.  Whole oak tree branches support the beams and if you look carefully on the dais side of the hall you can see a woodpecker’s nest bored into the wood.
 
The Parlour was the private retreat of the medieval family and this cosy room became Daisy Lloyd’s writing room.  She was also an accomplished needleworker and much of the embroidery in the house is her work.  She also collected samplers, now on view in some of the rooms.
 
The Solar was the principal private apartment of the medieval house.  A Solar was usually a light filled room, ideal for activities requiring good light such as writing letters, needlework and drawing.  Nathanial Lloyd used this room with its excellent north light as a draughtsman’s studio.  A photograph on the left of the bookcase shows him at work.
 
The Yeoman’s Hall is part of the 16th century Beneden house.  Originally it served as Mr and Mrs Lloyd’s bedroom but after the Second World War it was made into a summer sitting room.
 
On the external east face of the house, on the right side of the first floor, can be seen a small window on a different level from all the others.  This is a floor level window in the Day Nursery and a typical Lutyens addition.  He called it the ‘Crawling Window’.  Few great architects would have bothered to ensure that the smallest inhabitant, unable to reach a conventional window sill, could also see out.  This house is no museum but a much-loved home.
 
The Garden
The garden, started by Nathanial, was designed by Lutyens as a perfect foil for the old house.  The farm buildings including a 19th century oast house are incorporated into the design. The house is always in view of the garden and vice a versa.  Profuse, scented plantings surround the house interspersed with the most amazing yew topiary.
 
One of the features of Great  Dixter is the absence of plantings in blocks of colour.  The most wonderful combinations of colours seem to happen haphazardly in a very natural way.  This was Christopher Lloyd’s philosophy; if something self-sown came up and looked good then he let it stay.  The garden is ever changing and many locals repeatedly visit to see what’s new.
 
In May, areas of rough grassy meadow are full of native orchids and wild daffodils.  The orchards are carpeted with crocuses and hybridised daffodils.  Such a picture.  From July to October the herbaceous borders are a riot of colour and to ensure a continuous show annuals are replaced with later flowering varieties.  The Long Border is at its exuberant best from June to mid August.
 
No matter what time of year you visit, the garden is always a rewarding experience.  The ancient house is well worth visiting not only for its history but also to admire the sympathetic genius of one of the greatest 20th century architects, Edwin Lutyens.
 
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:    External Link
 
Open
1 April – 31 October
Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays
Gardens:        11:00 – 17:00 hours
House:          14:00 – 17:00 hours
 
Admission Price
Price includes Guide Book.  Please go to official website for current prices.
 
Disabled Access
Drop off point at ticket office, Disabled Toilets.
Access to Gift Shop and refreshments.
Garden:  Level access, hardened paths, some slopes fitted with ramps.  Disabled route map available.
House: Disabled access to ground floor, Great Hall and Parlour. For other parts of the house refer to official website link below.
 
Facilities
Toilets; Gift Shop; Light refreshments.
2 wheelchairs which must be pre-booked.
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0)1797 252 878
Mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website  Great Dixter House    External Link
 
Getting There
- By Rail
The nearest train stations with connecting buses to Northiam are Rye, and Hastings.
Timetable information available at National Rail Enquiries  Web: National Rail Enquiries website    External Link
Tel:   +44 (0)8457 484 950
 
- By Car
The A28 runs through Northiam.  Great Dixter is about ¾ of a mile off the A28.  Follow the brown tourist signs.
Free parking for visitors available at the site.
 
- By Bus
Buses run directly to Northiam (Monday to Saturday) from Rye, Hastings and Tenterden.
No buses on Sundays.
Timetable information available at  Web: Traveline website    External Link
Tel: +44 (0)8712 002 233 
 

Google Maps - Great Dixter House and Gardens