Iford Manor

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Iford Manor with statue on the River Frome

Iford Manor (grid reference ST802589) is a manor house near Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. It is a Grade II* listed building sitting on the steep, south-facing slope of the Frome valley.[1] It is known for its Peto Gardens and as the venue of the annual Iford Arts Festival.

The origins of the house may be as early as late 15th century. The classical façade was added around 1730, and the hanging woodlands above the garden were planted later in the 18th century.


The Peto Gardens

Iford is best known for its Peto Gardens, which are designated Grade I in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England.[2] They were designed during the early part of the 20th century by the garden architect Harold Peto. He lived at Iford from 1899 until his death in 1933 during which time he built up an extensive collection of artefacts, brought back from his travels abroad.[2] His great love of the Italian garden style is plainly evident at Iford, where flowers occupy a subordinate place amongst the more structural elements of cypress, statuary, broad walks and pools.[3]

A number of plants of particular interest can be found at Iford: standard Wisteria sinensis blossoms across much of the front of the house and up flights of steps linking the terraces (particularly good in late May); Phillyrea latifolia; Buxus sempervirens grows in wild tree form in the woods above the house and is extensively used in the gardens as a structural plant; Cupressus sempervirens; Hemerocallis citrina, the scented daylily; the naturalised Martagon lily.[citation needed]

In addition to his planting and structural work, Peto created a number of architectural garden features, which remain well preserved.[3] Behind the manor house, to which he added a loggia, terraces lead up to the main lawn. Alongside the lawn he built a lily pool, a colonnade-lined Great Terrace, and the Cloisters, a Grade II* listed[4] Italianate courtyard surrounded by an arcade,[2] which was his "Haunt of Ancient Peace" where he displayed many of his treasures.[citation needed] Higher up the hillside, he built more terraces with retaining walls, and a pavilion called the Casita.[2]

Iford Manor was the recipient of the Historic Houses Association/Christie's Garden of the Year Award in 1998.[5]

Arts and Filming[edit]

Each summer the Iford Arts Festival has a three-month season of opera, jazz and other concerts in the gardens, making use of the Cloisters[6] and the Casita as performance spaces.[7]

Iford Manor has been used for filming on a number of occasions. In 2008 the gardens and the Cloisters were used as the venue for the wedding sequence in Episode 1 of the second series of Mistresses.[8]

Iford Manor SSSI[edit]

Iford Manor
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Area of SearchAvon
Grid referenceST802589
Area0.39 hectares (1.0 acre)
Location mapEnglish Nature

The roof spaces of Iford Mill Barn are used as a summer breeding roost by Greater Horseshoe Bats, one of only 14 known roosts for this species in England. This is in fact the second largest of the known English breeding roosts, with over 250 individual Greater Horseshoes recorded each summer. Because of this, the buildings and a small area of land surrounding them, 0.39 hectares (1.0 acre), were notified as a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1996. Although the manor itself is in Wiltshire, both bat breeding sites are in Bath and Northeast Somerset, and so fall within English Nature's Avon Area of Search. The SSSI includes an orchard, where Daubenton's Bat and Noctule Bat roost.[9]

Gallery of images[edit]


  1. ^ Historic England, "Iford Manor (1158288)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 February 2016
  2. ^ a b c d Historic England, "Iford Manor (1000438)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 February 2016
  3. ^ a b Garmey, Jane (1 March 2008). "Architect of a Lovely Garden". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  4. ^ Historic England. "The Cloisters, Iford Manor (1021878)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  5. ^ "The Peto Garden at Iford Manor". Historic Houses Association. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  6. ^ White, Anna (May 2013). "Making Music in Paradise". Bath Magazine. p. 22. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  7. ^ White, Anna (20 February 2013). "First Night Jazz – Iford Festival Prom". Bath Chronicle. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Episode #2.1".
  9. ^ English Nature SSSI citation sheet (accessed on 30 July 2006)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°19′44″N 2°17′08″W / 51.32885°N 2.28556°W / 51.32885; -2.28556