Ashley Court


The gardens and grounds of Ashley court are open to visitors on a number of days each year (please see events page for dates.)

You can book group visits with lunch or tea or evening drinks, please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Teas are available at the house on the open days.

Your lovely well behaved dogs are welcome if kept on a lead.

We do not know who first designed the gardens at Ashley Court but a lithograph from the 1820s shows a ‘Repton-esque’ layout with rolling fields and parkland running from the front door down to the river Exe in the style of the 18th century.

It was later re-modelled by Thomas Burnett and further changes were probably forced by the lack of manpower following the two world wars. Nonetheless the garden was maintained into the 1960’s and perhaps well beyond that, until the owner became very elderly. It then fell into disuse and nature quickly reclaimed it. Our task is now to uncover from the jungle of laurel, ground elder and hogweed what was once a productive and beautiful garden and pleasure grounds. It is, indeed, like a miniature version of the lost gardens of Heligan,

ashley court gardens

List of known gardeners at Ashley Court:

1851 Thomas Burnett – re-designed the garden
(Thomas Burnett, gardener to Sir Sydney W H Waterlow, Fairside House, Highgate, died on 15 January aged 46.  He left school at 13 and spent some time with Veitch, then was at Ashley Court, Tiverton for 2 years where he remodelled the placed ‘showing his ability as a landscape gardener and an artist’.  From there he went to Lord Boston and Lady Molyneux near Sloth, then 6-7 years at Bayard’s Park, Surrey.  He worked at Devonshire House for 3 ½ years, Peterborough House, Fulham (W Terry Esq) – orchids.  Then to Fairside House.  Suffered ill health for two years prior to his death)

1881-1906 Henry Solman, Head Gardener

1881 Thomas Northcote, under gardener

1908-1915 George Banting, Head Gardener later moved to Shobrooke Park

1923 – 1939 Fred Lake

Link above takes you to 3 second clip of drone shot of walled garden and immediate surroundings during the pandemic lockdown.

Restoration of greenhouses and cold frames

At one point the garden had no less than 4 greenhouses and a set of ‘English Lights’ cold frames. These was  1) an orchid house (tiny heated house on the north wall of the garden), 2) a vine house on the south side of the north wall slips, 3) a lean-to house on the south wall and 4) a span house close to the south side of Ashley Court.

This largest greenhouse is visible from the Drawing room and master bedroom of the house and was obviously intended as a show house for exotics and prized specimen plants rather than the day to day raising of vegetable seedlings which would have been done in utility greenhouses elsewhere. It may have been part of the garden re-design executed by Thomas Burnett or pre-date that as there is clearly a glasshouse in a lithograph dated around 1825-30. 

What remains of this glass house is the suspended terracotta floor, a slate dipping tank, heating pipes and the walls on which the glass frame sat. An adjacent Head Gardener’s office is completely dilapidated but still has its door, floor and remains of walls and chimney.

We have over 300 panes of Victorian beaver-tail glass in good condition but no remaining ironwork. We wonder if the people who dismantled the original house took it away with them, it is unusual as almost everything else here remained on site.

We are now looking for a suitable period glasshouse to replace the original. There are glimpses of the original house in 3 photographs dating from the 1960s and the lithograph circa 1825.