The Manor, Hemingford Grey

Type:Historic House / Palace

High Street, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 9BN

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The Manor, Hemingford Grey

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Hemingford Manor, built circa 1130 and one of the oldest continuously inhabited houses in England, was the home of the author Lucy Boston from 1939 until her death in 1990.

When she bought the property the land in front of the house was a field.  In the Autumn of 1939 she planted over two hundred trees and shrubs plus, beside the towpath along the River Great Ouse which borders the garden, she planted a further one hundred sweet briar plants.  Many of these were washed away in the 1947 flood.

During the war years Lucy gave gramophone record recitals twice a week to airmen from the local RAF bases so gardening took a back seat although she did plant eight yew bushes on either side of the path to the house, with the idea of creating topiary shapes – inspired by Levens Hall which she knew well as a child.

After the war Lucy seriously applied herself to gardening, planting old roses at a time when these were out of fashion, irises and herbaceous perennials.  She was advised in her choice of roses and irises by Graham Stuart Thomas who was at the Cambridge Botanic garden at the time.  In his first book on shrub roses he had a photograph of “La Reine Victoria” at The Manor.

The eight yew bushes bordering the path to the house were made into crowns, orbs and the dove of peace to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation.  In the early 1950s another twelve bushes were planted with the intention of making them into chess pieces.  These now stand in squares of purple leaved ajuga and grey leaved stachys to represent the black and white squares of the chess board.

Bordered by a moat on three sides and the River Great Ouse on the other, the garden is four acres with one acre deliberately left wilderness as a haven for wildlife.  It is divided into different sections, including the hidden garden with splendid mature yews and cherry trees.

There are large herbaceous borders full of scented plants with plenty of self-sown annuals intermingled.  The atmosphere is of carefree tranquility which means there are weeds as well as planned plantings.  It is not a manicured garden.  Lucy Boston’s philosophy was that it would be a pity if one won against the forest and wild flowers waiting to take over.

During the winters Lucy Boston wrote her books basing her Green Knowe series, now regarded as classics, on the house and garden.  Many of the toys and other features mentioned in the books exist in the house and garden so going round The Manor visitors feel that they are walking into the books.  The house, particularly, is a magical place for children to visit.

In the winter Lucy Boston sewed exquisite patchworks, one of which is amongst the top ten best known patchworks worldwide.  Lucy’s patchworks form the only collection of this calibre in the world which can be seen in the house where they were made.  People come from all over the world to see the them and they have been loaned to exhibitions both in the UK and Japan.

An old EMG gramophone, similar to the one used duirng the war for the receitals Lucy Boston put on twice weekly for the RAF, is played during the tour.

The Manor house and garden is a perfect place to visit for children of all ages both because of Lucy Boston’s Green Knowe books and because of the different spaces in the garden with many paths to follow.

Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Garden Only - Adult/Senior£6.00 per ticket
Garden Only - ChildFree
House & Garden - Adult£10.00 per ticket
House & Garden - Child£3.00 per ticket
House & Garden - Senior£9.00 per ticket

Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.


Establishment Features

  • Accept coach parties
  • Dogs on Lead Only
  • Gift shop
  • Public toilets

Key Features

  • Non smoking establishment

Parking & Transport

  • Parking (free)

Tours and Demonstrations

  • Guided Tours Available for Groups


Opening Times

Season (1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024)
Monday - Sunday11:00 - 17:00

* House visits are strictly by pre-booked appointment only

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