The Victorian Kitchen Garden

Coordinates: 51°25′45.38″N 1°31′26.96″W / 51.4292722°N 1.5241556°W / 51.4292722; -1.5241556

The Victorian Kitchen Garden is a 13-part British television series produced in 1987 by Keith Sheather for BBC2, based on an idea by Jennifer Davies who later became Associate Producer. It recreated a kitchen garden of the Victorian era at Leverton, Berkshire (near Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire). The presenter was the horticultural lecturer, Peter Thoday, the master gardener was Harry Dodson and the director was Keith Sheather.[1]

The Victorian Kitchen Garden
Based onan idea by Jennifer Davies
Directed byKeith Sheather
Composer(s)Paul Reade
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes13
Producer(s)Keith Sheather
Production location(s)Leverton, England
Production company(s)BBC
Original networkBBC2
Original release1987
Followed byThe Victorian Flower Garden, The Victoria Kitchen, Harry's Big Adventure, The Wartime Kitchen and Garden
Harry Dodson at the northern wall of The Victorian Kitchen Garden in 1989

The theme music and soundtrack was composed by Paul Reade and performed principally by Emma Johnson playing the clarinet. It won the 1991 Ivor Novello award for best TV theme music.


The series began in the largely derelict walled garden at Chilton Lodge, on a freezing January morning, and followed Harry and his assistant Alison as they recreated the working kitchen garden.

The work involved many repairs, from replanting the box (Buxus) edging and replacing the gravel walks, to reglazing the cold frames and repairing the magnificent Victorian wood-framed, brick-based glass-houses. The team were determined to use plants that the Victorian head gardener would have had available, so there were many hours of scouring old and modern catalogues and many disappointments. However, the required plants were found eventually. The programme displayed the various tools and techniques of Victorian gardening, and this was where Harry came into his own. He had used many of both and therefore could produce many of the tools from various cobwebbed corners of the service buildings and demonstrate how they were used.

The south wall

Sequels and later availabilityEdit

The series was successful and spawned three sequels:[2]

  • The Victorian Kitchen (with Ruth Mott), 1989
  • The Victorian Flower Garden, 1991
  • The Wartime Kitchen and Garden, 1993

Each of the series (except for The Wartime Kitchen and Garden) is commercially available on DVD, distributed by Acorn Media UK. Accompanying books of all four series were written by the associate producer, Jennifer Davies, and published by BBC Books.


Writing for The Guardian in 2009 during a repeat of the series, Lucy Mangan found that it was the "details that make the programme sing" and concluded by saying: "May it flourish somewhere in the schedules for ever."[3]


  1. ^ Leapman, Michael (9 August 2005). "Harry Dodson". Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 14 June 2008.
  2. ^ "Harry Dodson". The Independent. Independent News & Media. 20 September 2005. Retrieved 14 June 2008.
  3. ^ Mangan, Lucy (10 November 2009). "Cable Girl: The Victorian Kitchen Garden". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2013.

External linksEdit