North Thames: Winfield House and Royal College of Physicians gardens

BALI Regional Event

Winfield House
06 Aug 2024
Outer Circle, Regents Park, London, NW1 4RT
Opening times:
10:30am - 4:30pm

Join the North Thames committee for a fantastic day out visiting two glorious gardens. We will have exclusive access to the gardens of Winfield House, residence of the American Ambassador to the UK, Jane Hartley. Following lunch, we will head to the Royal College of Physicians for a guided tour of the gardens, which contain over 1,000 plants linked to the history of medicine.

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The tour of Winfield House will be led by Stephen Crisp, who has been Head of Horticulture at Winfield House since 1987. Stephen is also well known for being a long-standing RHS judge and was awarded an RHS Associate of Honour in 2017. During the tour, Stephen will cover the history of the house, provide an overview of the 12 acre garden, and share insights into how he has developed the garden during his tenure, including the management challenges he has faced.

Following lunch at The Refinery, we will head to the Royal College of Physicians garden, for a tour with Head Gardener, Jane Knowles. The garden of medicinal plants of the Royal College of Physicians has been described as ‘the most interesting garden in London’. With over 1,000 plants linked to the story of medicine over the past 3,000 years, it is both beautiful and educational. 

On the day:

10:30am: Prompt arrival at Winfield House (location details below).
We will need to pass though security, so please being photo ID (passport, driving licence). Note, the nearest tube stations are Baker Street or St Johns Wood.

10:45am: Tour of Winfield House and gardens, led by Head Gardener Stephen Crisp

1:00pm: Three course lunch at The Refinery - Peony menu

3:00pm: The Royal College of Physicians garden, led by Head Gardener Jane Knowles

4:30pm: Finish

About Winfield House

Winfield House, which stands in over 12 acres of grounds on the western side of Regents Park has the largest private gardens second in Central London after Buckingham Palace.

The house was first built for American heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton in 1936 on the former Hertford St. Dunstan Estate that had been damaged by fire. During the second world war, the estate was used for the Royal Air Force. Hutton donated it to the United States after the war, and since 1955 it has been the American ambassador’s residence. The house itself is Grade 2 listed by Historic England as an exceptional ambassador’s residence and as a notable Neo-Georgian town house.

The gardens include an American motif in the diamond-shaped ivy trained over the front gate lodge. Next to the road are shade tolerant woodland species to screen the house.

The rear terrace, guarded by two stone eagles, leads on one side to a formal garden where the Tudor Court used to be. It is now called the Parterre Garden. The centrepiece of this garden is a small bronze statue of a young Barbara Hutton, the heiress who sold the house and grounds to the American government in the 1940’s for 1 dollar. Nearby is the summer garden, which is an arid garden, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wrights use of stained glass.

Stephen Crisp - Stephen has been in the role of Head Gardner at Winfield house well over twenty years, since 1987. Prior to this he was at Leeds Castle as a horticulturist for the Leeds Castle Foundation. There he established some new gardens working with Russell Page who was the landscape consultant in the 1980’s.

His training and scholarships include Tresco Abbey and Longwood Gardens in the US as well as the Royal Horticultural Society which was a two-year program back at Wisley in 1979. During his tenure, Stephen has created some magnificent gardens which enhance the house today. 

About The Royal College of Physicians Garden

The Royal College of Physicians' garden contains over 1,100 plants, all with links to medicine. The myriad stories they tell come from diverse cultures, different countries and from every age in recorded history. The garden has been beautifully designed and is a wonderfully calm space in the centre of London.

The garden of medicinal plants of the Royal College of Physicians has been described as ‘the most interesting garden in London’. With over 1,000 plants linked to the story of medicine over the past 3,000 years, it is both beautiful and educational.

Jane Knowles - Jane has been the Head Gardener of the Royal College of Physicians since 2005, following eleven years at the Chelsea Physic Garden as head of propagation and medicinal plants. She is known for contributions to the following books and publications 'The Illustrated College Herbal: Plants from the Pharmacopoea Londinensis of 1618'; Modern medicines from plants growing in the RCP garden; A garden of medicinal plants; and, Modern medicines from plants.

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