Every other year the Garden Museum in London organises a one-of-a-kind literary festival. Conceived as a celebration of everything that inspires us about gardens, the festival moves from place to place, entering into a dialogue with it’s chosen hosts, and drawing out themes to explore of the course of one long summer weekend.
“Parham is a place where Time slows down”Christopher Woodward, Director of the Garden Museum
We were extremely honoured to be asked to host the ninth festival, which took place here at Parham on the hot and sunny days of 23rd and 24th June. The theme for this year was “Gardens as places of invention and illusion”. Two hundred and fifty visitors and a very distinguished group of speakers travelled to Parham and were welcomed each morning by Christopher Woodward, Lady Emma and Mr. James Barnard. After tea and coffee in Fountain Court, provided by Joanna’s Boutique Tearoom, the guests dispersed either to the Great Hall or to a beautiful marquee in the Pleasure Ground to hear from the first speakers of the day.
Over the course of the weekend, Alan Titchmarsh spoke eloquently about designing gardens for royalty; Julian and Isabel Bannerman discussed the conventions and realities of designing gardens in the first and second Elizabethan age, and Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Lady Emma Barnard, Mr James Barnard, and our Head Gardener, Andrew Humphris, reflected on the special character of the Gardens at Parham and the rich tradition which we have inherited from the generations which have preceeded us.
The many other brilliant and entertaining speakers included: Sarah Barclay, George Carter, Shane Connolly, Stephen Daniels, Ben Dark, Hazel Gardiner, Jordan Goodman, Olivia Harrison, Rosie Kinchen, Robin Lane Fox, Non Morris, Amicia de Moubray, Jeremy Musson, George Plumptre, Mathew Rice, Melissa Richardson, Charlotte de Rothschild, Robert Sackville-West, Tom and Sue Stuart-Smith, Claudia Tobin, Alice Vincent – and we are hugely grateful to them all.
From the Elizabethan Long Gallery with the Oliver Messel ceiling to the potting shed corridor emblazoned with garden team photos…WHAT a house. Another spectacularly generous literary festival, hosted by the Barnards.Anonymous, Instagram 2023
When not listening to a talk, guests were free to explore the House, which was bedecked with flowers from the Garden. They could also join special tours of the Gardens with Parham’s Garden Team or listen to live music whilst enjoying a picnic lunch from Joanna’s. On the Friday evening, the day culminated in a reception in the Long Gallery for the speakers and supporters of the Museum, followed by supper on the West Lawn as the sun sank below the horizon.
Photographer Sam Stephenson captured the day beautifully, here is a selection from the weekend:
Fantastic arrangements in the most wonderful settingAnonymous, Instagram 2023
A stunning weekend of readings, weather, and musicAnonymous, Instagram 2023
A favorite Sussex garden on top formAnonymous, Instagram 2023
The Garden Museum, situated next to Lambeth Palace, celebrates the art, history, and design of British gardens and their significance in our contemporary lives. It is home to the Archive of Garden Design, which preserves and provides access to the working records of leading British garden designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. To learn more about the Garden Museum, click here.