West Green House

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Coordinates: 51°18′04″N 0°55′55″W / 51.301°N 0.932°W / 51.301; -0.932

West Green House

West Green House is an 18th-century country house at West Green in Hartley Wintney in the English county of Hampshire. The house is listed Grade II*.[1] It is well known for its gardens and for its summer season of opera.


The house was built in the early 18th century,[2] by General Henry Hawley, who led the cavalry charge at the Battle of Culloden.[3]

At the beginning of the 20th century the Playfair family employed the architect Robert Weir Schulz to remodel the north front of the house and to design new gardens.[4] After the Playfairs left West Green House five years later, the new owner, Evelyn, Duchess of Wellington continued to improve the gardens.[4] The Duchess and her friend Yvonne Fitzroy occupied the house and garden for many years. Victor Sassoon bought the house and allowed the Duchess and her friend to live in house until the Duchess's death in 1939 and Fitzroy’s death in 1971.[4]

The National Trust has owned the house since 1971, after being left the property by Victor Sassoon in 1957. Alistair McAlpine acquired the lease in 1976 and restored the gardens and added monuments designed by the classical architect Quinlan Terry.[5]

The Moongate circling the Nymphaeum in the gardens

In the 1970s McAlpine and Terry constructed various follies in the grounds of the house.[6] One of these, a 50 feet high column topped by an elaborately carved design bears a Latin inscription declaring that "this monument was built with a great deal of money which otherwise someday would have been given into the hands of the public revenue".[7] McAlpine also constructed a classical triumphal arch topped with an obelisk that bears a plaque dedicating the arch to the "first lady Prime Minister of Great Britain".[7] Other features placed by McAlpine and Terry in the folly garden include a trompe l'oeil Nymphaeum, a smoke house, an "eye catcher", Chinese cow sheds and an island gazebo.[7]

The house was damaged by an IRA bomb attack in 1990.[8] McAlpine had left the house three weeks previously, at the expiration of his lease.[8]

Marylyn Abbott bought the lease from the National Trust in 1993.[9] She had previously developed her well-known Kennerton Green garden in Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia.[10]


Abbott is the former marketing and tourism manager of Sydney Opera House,[9] and instituted an opera season at West Green House which is held annually in July and August.[11] Operas are staged on the Theatre Lawn,[12] with seating, a stage and an orchestra pit which take advantage of the contours of the garden.[9]

There is a strong association with the Opera Project touring opera company. In 2012, West Green House hosted a production by the Garsington Opera Emerging Artists programme.[13]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "West Green House". English Heritage. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  2. ^ Historic England. "West Green House (1242807)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  3. ^ Patrick Keiller (1999). Robinson in Space: And a Conversation With Patrick Wright. Reaktion Books. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-1-86189-028-3. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "English gardens - West Green Houses". Sisley Garden Tours. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  5. ^ Patrick Taylor (1 May 2008). Gardens of Britain and Ireland. Dorling Kindersley. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-1-4053-2854-8. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  6. ^ Headley and Meulenkamp 1986, p. 78.
  7. ^ a b c Headley and Meulenkamp 1986, p. 79.
  8. ^ a b "IRA Claims Blame in Wave of Blasts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c Kirwan-Taylor, Helen (1 July 2011). "Music Inhabits Summer Gardens". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  10. ^ Pavord, Anna (4 December 1999). "Country & garden: The colour of two continents". The Independent. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  11. ^ Kimberley, Nick (19 May 2010). "Best garden operas in London". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  12. ^ Raymond, Francine (19 July 2011). "The perfect setting for outdoor opera". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  13. ^ White, Michael (1 August 2012). "A country-house academy for opera singers". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 July 2013.


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