Iford Manor

Iford Manor (grid reference ST802589) is a manor house in Wiltshire, England. It is a Grade II* listed building sitting on the steep, south-facing slope of the Frome valley, in Westwood parish, about 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of the town of Bradford-on-Avon.[1] Its Grade I registered gardens are open to the public from April to September each year.

Iford Manor with statue on the River Frome


There has been a dwelling here since the Domesday Book and the origins of the present house are as early as the late 15th century. At that time the buildings were a wool factory and the seat of the Horton family who went on to become a successful wool family dynasty. Thereafter the Hungerford family of nearby Farleigh Hungerford Castle and Corsham Court lived here. Following a change in ownership the classical façade was added around 1730.

Three generations of the Gaisford family lived here in the Georgian period, notably Dean Gaisford of Christ Church, Oxford. The Gaisfords were responsible for planting the hanging woodlands above the garden and several of the notable trees in the garden and surrounding landscape. The Rooke family lived here until Harold Peto purchased the property in 1899.


The Peto Gardens

Iford is best known for its beautiful gardens, which are designated Grade I in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England.[2] They were designed during the early part of the 20th century by the garden architect Harold Peto. He lived at Iford from 1899 until his death in 1933 during which time he built up an extensive collection of antiquities and artefacts, brought back from his travels abroad.[2] His great love of the Italian garden style is plainly evident at Iford, where flowers occupy a subordinate place amongst the more structural elements of cypress, statuary, broad walks and pools.[3]

A number of plants of particular interest can be found at Iford: standard Wisteria sinensis blossoms across much of the front of the house and up flights of steps linking the terraces (particularly good in late May); Phillyrea latifolia; Buxus sempervirens grows in wild tree form in the woods above the house and is extensively used in the gardens as a structural plant; Cupressus sempervirens; Hemerocallis citrina, the scented daylily; the naturalised Martagon lily.[citation needed]

In addition to his planting and structural work, Peto created a number of architectural garden features, which remain well preserved.[3] Behind the manor house, to which he added a loggia, terraces lead up to the main lawn. Alongside the lawn he built a lily pool, a colonnade-lined Great Terrace, and the Cloisters, a Grade II* listed[4] Italianate courtyard surrounded by an arcade,[2] which was his "Haunt of Ancient Peace" where he displayed many of his treasures.[citation needed] Higher up the hillside, he built more terraces with retaining walls, and a pavilion called the Casita.[2]

Thought lost after the war, the present owners since 1965, the Cartwright-Hignett family, have restored the garden and the various structures therein, initially assisted by Lanning Roper. John Hignett has extended the garden, including the creation of a Japanese Garden. The current owners, William and Marianne Cartwright-Hignett, appointed Troy Scott Smith, previously Head Gardener of Sissinghurst, Bodnant and The Courts, to help replant and expand the garden further.

Iford Manor was the recipient of the Historic Houses Association/Christie's Garden of the Year Award in 1998 and the Little Treasure of Britain Award in the 2017 Group Travel Awards.[5]

Arts and filmingEdit

Iford Manor has been used for filming on a number of occasions. Most recently it was used as a key location for The Secret Garden (2020 film) and in Sanditon (ITV 2019). In 2008 the gardens and the Cloisters were used as the venue for the wedding sequence in Episode 1 of the second series of Mistresses.[6]

Regular concerts take place at weekends in the garden at no extra charge for garden visitors and from 2021 a new season of arts events will take place.

From 1983 until 2018, the Iford Arts Festival has held a three-month season of opera, jazz and other concerts in the gardens, making use of the Cloisters[7] and the Casita as performance spaces.[8] With urgent repair work needed to the Cloisters following subsidence, and the festival having outgrown the relatively small venue, the festival was moved to nearby Belcombe Court from 2019.

Iford Manor SSSIEdit

Iford Manor
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Area of SearchAvon
Grid referenceST802589
Area0.39 hectares (1.0 acre)
Location mapEnglish Nature

The roof spaces of Iford Mill Barn are used as a summer breeding roost by Greater Horseshoe Bats, one of only 14 known roosts for this species in England. This is in fact the second largest of the known English breeding roosts, with over 250 individual Greater Horseshoes recorded each summer. Because of this, the buildings and a small area of land surrounding them, 0.39 hectares (1.0 acre), were notified as a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1996. Although the manor itself is in Wiltshire, both bat breeding sites are in Bath and Northeast Somerset, and so fall within English Nature's Avon Area of Search. The SSSI includes an orchard, where Daubenton's Bat and Noctule Bat roost.[9]



  1. ^ Historic England, "Iford Manor (1158288)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 February 2016
  2. ^ a b c d Historic England, "Iford Manor (1000438)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 February 2016
  3. ^ a b Garmey, Jane (1 March 2008). "Architect of a Lovely Garden". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  4. ^ Historic England. "The Cloisters, Iford Manor (1021878)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  5. ^ "The Peto Garden at Iford Manor". Historic Houses Association. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Episode #2.1".
  7. ^ White, Anna (May 2013). "Making Music in Paradise". Bath Magazine. p. 22. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  8. ^ White, Anna (20 February 2013). "First Night Jazz – Iford Festival Prom". Bath Chronicle. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  9. ^ English Nature SSSI citation sheet (accessed on 30 July 2006)

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°19′44″N 2°17′08″W / 51.32885°N 2.28556°W / 51.32885; -2.28556