Italian Garden at Westonbirt House

Westonbirt House

One of our current garden projects is to build a seating area outside the kitchen door. It’s a suntrap, which, thanks to the cottage’s thick, stone walls, retains the warmth long after the sun has set. I dream of an Italian garden with bourgainvillea and lemon trees, plus a pizza oven tucked in there somewhere. During the summer at least. Before I get to that stage, we need to dig and clear. It’s split level, so I’m busy researching features to make the most of the levels. Part of my research includes visiting other Italian gardens, and fortunately Mr TTC found one at Westonbirt House, which is not too far from us.

Westonbirt House

Westonbirt House was built as a Victorian private residence, but is now a school. It’s across the road from Westonbirt Arboretum, which is a popular destination for families. The House and garden are open on various days through the year. It’s best to check their website for more details.

The house

We weren’t expecting to go on a tour of the house, but I’m glad we did. It is still used by the school, with dorms, dining hall and offices in regular use. A separate trust raises funds to renovate the building’s and garden’s original features.

Our tour guide was a former teacher from the school and she was so knowledgeable. Lots of extra snippets of history and insights to the rooms and house.

The ceilings

(Photo credit for the ceiling photos to Middle and Youngest Teens)

The rooms we saw were amazing. The ceilings (the photos above) and walls were decorative and eye catching.

Until recently, the room in the above photo was used as a dorm. I was sent away to school (not this school), but my dorm was not even close to this one. Can you imagine falling asleep, maybe rehearsing French past participles for the next day, with a ceiling like this above you?

Bell system for big house

The bell system was a sight to see. For Downton Abbey fans, they reckon that Westonbirt house had a more extensive number of bells. I’ve no idea as I’ve not watched the series. I was intrigued by some of the labels. Obvious ones like the Blue bedroom, but also the Yeomans Lobby caught my eye. The bells were covered up until fairly recently. I can’t imagine how exciting it was to discover it.

The Italian garden

The House sits in 210 acres of parkland. There were parts we ran out of time to see, as the house tour took longer than we expected, but we did see the Italian Garden.

Entrance to Italian Garden

Walled garden Italian Garden

We chose a beautiful day to go. It’s a statement garden that I’m sure impressed the original owner’s guests too. I loved the wall and carefully clipped box hedges in the formal garden. I don’t seem to have a photo, but there were also fabulous floor mosaics too.

Camelia House in Italian Garden

Geraniums outside the Camelia House. What’s not to love?

Italian garden at Westonbirt


What ideas did I come away with? This was a research trip, after all. I’d love to incorporate a mosaic floor somewhere, but it may not work for us. Our cottage is slightly more humble (and older) than Westonbirt House, for sure, so it might be a bit over the top.

I’d love to have a water feature. The one above really caught my eye as it spans a split level. There is a glass tank so that you can peep through the balustrades and potentially see fish swimming. I don’t think there were any in there, but I love the idea. Gargoyles on one side of the pond cascade water to a lower pond. I’m sure we could include some of these elements, albeit scaled down considerably. Plus one or two interesting stone pieces.

Statue in the Italian Garden

I think this one may be leaning towards Gothic rather than Italian, but I could still find a place for him, I reckon. What do you think? What would you opt to add to your outside space?

We had a great day out and all three Teens came home inspired too. We’ll go back again and explore more of the garden next time. It’s definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in history and gardens.


  1. Magnificent design – I love old historical architecture. I’m so glad it is in use and that there is a trust to help keep it maintained. Old magnificent buildings are so costly to repair. I’m looking forward to seeing whatever you finally decide to do in your garden. Have a great week! #MMBC

    1. So many of the old places have not had the same money available or enthusiasm poured into them. It’s great to see a place that is obviously loved by many.

  2. The plans for your garden sound fantastic. It sounds like a big job but will be worth it.
    What a beautiful house, those ceilings are just stunning and the gardens are amazing. x

    1. The ceilings were stunning. The sun was on the gold ceiling and it glowed. Felt the best time of day to see it.

  3. Such amazing architecture and beautiful flowers! Sounds like a fabulous plant for your own garden. Good luck, it will look beautiful when finished!

  4. What a wonderful place to explore! I love discovering gems like this.
    The design and architecture that goes into these buildings is just phenomenal.
    It sounds like you’ve taken plenty of inspo back home with you to start your garden project.
    Looking forward to seeing how it turns out. 🙂

    1. There was more to see than I imagined. A great day out. Yes, plenty of ideas. Just need some free time to get it all in motion.

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