Scope and Content

The collection includes sketch plans and elevations, letters and planting plans relating to gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll between 1890 and c.1925.

In some instances an architect would commission Jekyll to design a garden suitable for one of his houses. Jekyll's collaboration with Sir Edwin Lutyens is well known and is recorded here by documents relating to Fishers Hill, Hook Heath, Woking, 1901 (4113/7/3, 4), Lambay Castle, Eire, 1909-1910 (4113/4/9), the Philipson mausoleum at Golders Green Crematorium in 1914 (4113/2/1-3), and Sullingstead, later High Hascombe, 1924 (4113/6/1, 4; 4113/7/1, 17-19). Other architects with whom she worked included Harold Falkner of Farnham, her godson, (4113/5/1-5, and 4113/7/27-28), Walter Sarel of London (4113/7/1, 12-15) and ND Searle (4113/8/1) as well as the surveyors Amos and Dawton of Canterbury, Kent (4113/1/10, 13-16).

Commissions would also come from private individuals as a result of Jekyll's articles in 'Country Life'. Impressed by her designs for 'Small Suburban Gardens', people would ask her advice for their own gardens, often submitting sketch plans with their letters. This process can be seen in the correspondence relating to Wood Cottage, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, from William Faulkner (4113/7/1, 6, 7, 11, 28), Hillside, Penarth, Glamorgan, from J Croisdale Kirk, (4113/7/21-22) and The Woodlands, Saltburn by the Sea, Yorkshire, from C W Littleboy.

Some private clients would commission a Jekyll garden at more than one house. Sir William Chance, for whom Jekyll had designed the garden at the Lutyens-built Orchards, Godalming, in 1899, can here be seen to have commissioned another garden for his home at Leigh Manor, Cuckfield, Sussex, in 1918.

At least nine Surrey gardens are included in this collection:

28 Albany Park Road, Kingston, for Mr R Antill, 1921 (4113/4/6, 7); Fishers Hill, Hook Heath, Woking, for the Rt. Hon. Gerald Balfour, 1901 (4113/7/3, 4); Great House, Hambledon, for Mrs Readhead, 1922 (4113/1/1-2, 4113/3/1, 9, 4113/4/1, 8, 4113/5/12-13, 4113/6/1 and 4113/7/1); Halls Cottage, Frensham, for H Falkner, 1924 (4113/7/28); Mavins End, Farnham, for H Falkner, nd (4113/5/2); Munstead, for H Shearburn (4113/1/3-4); North Munstead, for H Falkner, 1920 (4113/7/1, 27); Normanswood, Farnham, for Miss Russell, 1919 (4113/3/1, 10); Sullingstead, later High Hascombe, Hascombe (4113/6/1, 4, 4113/7/1, 17-19).

Gertrude Jekyll's main collection of working papers was donated to a Red Cross sale in September 1940 and subsequently acquired by Beatrix Farrand, the American landscape architect, in 1948 through the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Boston. In 1955 Farrand donated the collection from her study centre at Reef Point Gardens, Bar Harbor, Maine, to the College of Environmental Design at the University of California. Further details of Farrand's acquisition of the Jekyll papers will be found in J B Tankard and M A Wood, Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood: Writing, Horticulture, Photography, Homebuilding (Stroud, 1996).

Some of the commissions which are included in this deposit are represented by plans and correspondence in the Reef Point Gardens Collection and in Gertrude Jekyll's notebooks which are held at Godalming Museum.

This deposit also includes papers relating to gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll for which no other references have been found, either in the Reef Point and Godalming collections or in the catalogues of Jekyll's commissions which form appendixes to the biographies of her by Francis Jekyll, in 1934, and Jane Brown, in 1982. Their survival in the present deposit is therefore of particular significance for students of Jekyll's work. The commissions are Hatch, Kingsley Green, Sussex (4113/1/7); 47 Humbold Strasse, Berlin (4113/4/1, 4); Cottage at Hydon Ridge, Hambledon, Surrey (4113/8/1); Mavins End, Farnham, Surrey (4113/5/2); Pax Holt, not identified (4113/1/12 and 4113/8/1); Sunnybays, not indentified (4113/7/1) and Wood Cottage, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire (4113/7/7, 11). Closer examination of this last suggests that Gertrude Jekyll was not commissioned by the owner of Wood Cottage to plan the garden there, but to plan the garden for a new property called the 'Wilderness' at Sevenoaks in Kent.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gertrude Jekyll was born on 29 November 1843, in Mayfair, London, and the Jekyll family moved to Bramley Park, Surrey, in 1848. As a child, she had the freedom to explore the Surrey countryside, to learn about the plants and to make friends with the local people. What she learned from these explorations had a strong influence on her approach to garden design and was also to be the source of information for several of her books on folklore and customs. Except for a brief period of residence at Wargrave, Berkshire (1868-1876), Gertrude Jekyll remained in the county for the rest of her life.

In 1861 Gertrude Jekyll enrolled at the South Kensington School of Art where she studied botanical drawing and attended lectures on the scientific principles underlying the harmonies of colour. She also visited the London galleries, attending exhibitions and copying the works of Old Masters. Her circle of friends and influences at this time grew to include artists such as George Frederic Watts, William Morris and the critic John Ruskin. The English impressionist, Hercules Brabazon Brabazon, also had a profound influence on Gertrude Jekyll who later wrote 'nobody has helped me more than Mr Brabazon to understand and enjoy the beauty of colour and many matters concerning the fine arts'. Her ambition to become a professional artist was curtailed as a result of her severe myopia.

She first travelled abroad in 1863, on a tour of the Aegean with her friends, Charles and Mary Newton. From then onwards, she travelled extensively in Britain and Western Europe, particularly the Mediterranean, the Riviera, Greece and Italy, and also to Algiers. As she toured she sketched and painted constantly. At about this time she also began to amass a collection of embroidery and textiles which she added to throughout her life and which she used as an inspiration for her interior designs and embroidery patterns.

George Leslie, RA, an artist and friend of the family described Gertrude Jekyll in his book 'Our River' (1881):

'Miss Jekyll is a lady of such regular and remarkable accomplishments ... clever and witty in conversation, active and energetic in mind and body, and possessed of artistic talents of no common order, she would have at all times shone conspicuously bright amongst other ladies. The variety of her accomplishments, however is far more extensive ... - carving, modelling, house painting, carpentry, smith's work, repousse work, gilding, wood inlaying, embroidery, gardening, and all manner of herb and flower knowledge and culture; everything being carried on with perfect method and completeness. Her artistic taste is very great, and if it had not been for the extreme near-sightedness of her vision, I have little doubt that painting would have predominated over all her other talents.'

Gertrude Jekyll returned to Surrey following her father's death in 1876 to live at Munstead House, near Godalming, with her mother and brother, Herbert. Her first major project on moving was to lay out the gardens for the family home at Munstead House.

During the 1880s, Gertrude Jekyll had begun to write for 'The Garden' magazine and contributed photographs to 'The English Flower Garden', by William Robinson (editor of 'Gardening Illustrated' which merged with 'Country Life' magazine in 1897). As her fame spread, she wrote many more articles and published fourteen books on topics ranging from garden design to folk history. During this decade, she also took up photography, taking many pictures of the surrounding countryside and of her own gardens at Munstead Wood. From this period until c.1914, when she effectively gave up photography on account of her poor eyesight, she used her own photographs to illustrate her books and articles. Several albums of her photographs are now held at the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1889, when Gertrude Jekyll was in her mid-forties, she met the twenty-year-old architect, Edwin Lutyens. Their joint love of domestic architecture and garden design, and most importantly their evocation of the 'Surrey Style' of domestic architecture, led to their collaboration on some of the best examples of Arts and Crafts design. During the 1890s, in Surrey alone, Jekyll and Lutyens collaborated on the design of gardens for Orchards in Godalming, Goddards in Abinger, and Tigbourne Court in Witley, at the same time as they worked on the construction of her new home at Munstead Wood. Here, she laid out the gardens and Lutyens designed every building on the site from the main house to the thatched garden shed.

During her lifetime, Gertrude Jekyll created designs for approximately 500 gardens mainly in Britain, although she did design gardens for properties in the United States of America and Germany. Despite her failing sight, she continued to design gardens, publish articles and maintain a regular correspondence with friends and readers of her articles until her death, aged 89, on 9 December 1932. She lies buried in St John's Churchyard, Busbridge, Surrey, beneath a memorial designed by Lutyens which bears the epitaph: ARTIST, GARDENER, CRAFTSWOMAN


The documents were held in folders which had labels on the outside. The projects and clients named on these labels do not necessarily correspond with the contents of the folders. In the catalogue the folders have been arranged in chronological order according to the dates on their labels and the contents of each folder listed in the order in which they were found.

Descriptions of the documents are taken from the manuscript notes found on the documents. Information in square brackets has been obtained from further research. In the case of each folder the folder itself has been given the first sub-number.

Measurements of each document are provided in millimetres.

Access Information

There are no access restrictions. When wishing to refer to large quantities of the garden plans at once, please use the photocopies of the original records listed under 4113/9/-.

Information on visiting Surrey History Centre can be found on our website.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Surrey Record Office in September 1997. The documents were discovered in the attic of a house in Sussex which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and occupied by a niece of Gertrude Jekyll. It is possible that they were presented to the niece as a keepsake by Francis Jekyll, Gertrude's nephew, who sorted his aunt's papers out after her death in the course of preparing a biography of her.

Other Finding Aids

An item level list is available on the Surrey History Centre online catalogue

Conditions Governing Use

All literary and artistic works created by Gertrude Jekyll in the possession of Surrey History Centre are in copyright and may not be reproduced before 31 Dec 2039 without the written permission of the Trustees of the Jekyll Estate.

Related Material

Surrey History Centre holds the manuscript of Gertrude Jekyll's 'Old West Surrey' (London, 1904) together with her photographs, annotated publishers' proofs, related correspondence, and contemporary press reviews. It also holds two of the three albums of her watercolours listed in the sale catalogue of 1946. The two albums comprise views sketched during her tours of England, Wales, Scotland, Algeria, the South of France and Italy as well as designs for inn signs and other undertakings. For these items see 6521/-.

Further material held at Surrey History Centre includes:

Copy of the catalogue of the sale of contents of Munstead Wood, 1948, ref. Z/321/-.

Signed first edition presentation copy of 'Gertrude Jekyll, A Memoir', by Francis Jekyll, her nephew, and letters from Gertrude Jekyll, and Francis Jekyll, 1923-1934, ref. 6582/-.

Catalogue of books at Munstead House to be sold at auction by the Jekyll Family of Munstead, Godalming, 1953, ref. 6625/-

Copies of letters to American correspondents and articles for the 'Bulletin of the Garden Club of America', [1919 x 1932], ref. Z/309/-.

Copies of Gertrude Jekyll's correspondence concerning garden design at St Fagan's, Cardiff, 1925 – 1928, ref. Z/329/-.

Photocopies and transcripts of Gertrude Jekyll's letters, newscuttings etc, 1913-2001; and a copy of the book by CW Earle, 'Pot-Pourri From A Surrey Garden', 1902, ref. Z/351/-.

Transparencies of Gertrude Jekyll's photograph album of views of flowers, gardens and rural scenes, c.1883-1886, ref. Z/360/-.

Copies of letters from Gertrude Jekyll to her niece, Pamela McKenna (nee Jekyll, 1889-1943), nd [1926?], ref. Z/384/-.

Copies of letters from Gertrude Jekyll and FA Judges [?of Guildford], 1890, ref. Z/401/-.

Copies of papers relating to Gertrude Jekyll's garden design for the home of Sir Henry Wood, conductor, at Appletree Farm, Chorleywood Common, Hertfordshire, 1924, ref. Z/404/-.

Copies of letter from, bibliography about and list of works by Harold Falkner, architect of Farnham (1875-1963), c.1951-1967, ref. Zs/318.

Copies of architectural drawings by Edwin Lutyens of Sullingstead (now High Hascombe), Hascombe, nd [1896 x 1897], ref. Z/381/-.

Sale particulars of the Albany Park Estate, Kingston upon Thames, ref. SP9/31/2, and sale particulars of North Munstead Cottage, ref. CC99/61/1.

A summary list and index to the Reef Point Gardens Collection of Jekyll plans and correspondence at the University of California, is held at Surrey History Centre as part of Z312/- along with microfilm copies of the Reef Point Collection and of Gertrude Jekyll's six albums of photographs taken between c.1885 and 1914. Both collections of original material are currently held by the Centre for Environmental Design, University of California at Berkeley.

A set of 41 booklets relating to commissions undertaken by Gertrude Jekyll and including extensive plant lists is held at Godalming Museum. These notebooks include references to and plant lists for Jekyll commissions for which plans or references will be found in this deposit.

An album of drawings and photographs by Gertrude Jekyll, together with a workbook of interior designs by Jekyll and 61 letters to Mrs Amy Barnes-Brand of Woodhouse Copse, Holmbury St Mary, are held at the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Twelve letters from Gertrude Jekyll to successive Directors of the Royal Botanical Society are held by the Library of the Society at Kew Gardens.

Correspondence between Gertrude Jekyll and Lady Frances Wolvesey, founder of the Glynde School for Lady Gardeners, is held at Hove Central Library.

Letters written by Gertrude Jekyll to Dr A W Rowe between 1904 and 1910 are held in the Sherborne Bequest at the British Library, Additional MS 45926.


  • Jane Brown, Gardens of a Golden Afternoon (Harmondsworth, 1982).
  • Jane Brown, Eminent Gardeners (Harmondsworth, 1990).
  • Sally Festing, Gertrude Jekyll (Harmondsworth, 1991).
  • Francis Jekyll, Gertrude Jekyll. A Memoir (London, 1934).
  • Museum of Garden History, Gertrude Jekyll, 1843-1932. A Celebration (London, 1993).
  • Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, Ian Nairn and Bridget Cherry, The Buildings of England: Surrey (Harmondsworth, 1971).
  • Colin Wheeler, 'Potpourri of a Surrey Eccentric': article relating to Harold Falkner in 'The Independent', June 1990