During the period 17631780, the house’s formal gardens were swept away to be replaced by parkland in the English Landscape style popularised by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. This involved surrounding a house with seemingly natural lawns grazed by animals discreetly held back from the house by a ‘haha’ or ditch that was invisible from a distance. The South Lawn, and the views to and from the house, have been reinstated in this style.
In Jane Austen’s time, the kitchen garden was located opposite the current entrance to the house. Austen mentioned her brother’s plan to build a new walled kitchen
garden in her letters, but it wasn’t built until 18181822 after her death in 1817.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the kitchen garden was converted into an
ornamental flower garden. Around 1905, the inner wall was added, with a pair of
ornamental iron gates, and formed the larger opening in the outer wall where the
garden is now entered. Later, the garden was turned into an orchard.
With the exception of the wider entrance, Edward Austen’s original walls are still intact. A variety of fruit and vegetables are grown in the garden using organic
methods certified by the Soil Assocation. The garden also features ‘Pride and
Prejudice’ roses, which were bred especially by the Harkness Rose Nursery in 2013 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the novel.
Located in Walled Garden is the Elizabeth Blackwell Herb Garden, inspired by A Curious Herbal, one of many fascinating books in Chawton’s library collection. A guide to different plants and their medical uses, Blackwell undertook this ambitious project to free her husband from debtors’ prison. It was published in 1737-1739 to great acclaim enabling his release.