Waterperry Gardens -- Oxford




Waterperry House was first recorded in the Domesday Book and there would have always been a garden here to supply the house. When the house was extended in the 18th century, improvements were made to the gardens and these features can still be seen today, although unfortunately there are no records of the original garden plans.

In 1932 Beatrix Havergal moved her Horticultural School to Waterperry which proved to be highly successful and put the site on the gardening map. The horticultural methods and standards that she set have been maintained ever since.


In the mid-70's the ornamental gardens were opened up to the public, and gradually went through a period of huge development, spearheaded by former Ladies Horticultural School student Miss Mary Spiller.

Nowadays the gardens are a horticultural business and visitor destination.  The 8 acres (3 ha) of gardens flower from May until the first frosts. The gardens also include rose and alpine gardens which include the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG) collection of Kabschia Saxifrages, a formal knot garden, trained fruit and nursery beds and a riverside walk. The grounds also include nurseries, orchards, plant centre and teashop.  Gardening courses are still taught here.  For 40 years the grounds host the annual Art in Action festival of art and craft each July, the last of which was in 2016.

There is a very fine tea shop / restaurant, a excellent museum of agricultural tools and a much visited arts and crafts gallery.  There is also a recently completed open air theatre for use in the summer months.




There are 8-acres of landscaped gardens which include a rose garden and formal knot garden, water lily canal, riverside walk and one of the country’s finest purely herbaceous borders. 


No garden centre today can attract continued interest with gardens alone, no matter how fine, and Waterperry is very fortunate to have several other attractions.  There is a quality plant centre, garden shop, the excellent "Pear Tree" teashop, an art gallery, a free museum of rural life and a Saxon church. 

Waterperry also houses the National Collection of Kabschia and Silver Saxifrages.



The following is extracted from Thamesvalleymuseums.org

You'll be hard pushed to find a better collection of ancient tools and implements than those housed in Waterperry Gardens Museum of Rural Life.

The 18th Century granary building provides the perfect backdrop for the wide range of horticultural and agricultural tools, which give a flavour of life in times gone by.

Waterperry’s friendly Museum Curator Gordon Dempster is often on hand to provide more information and anecdotes about some of the many fascinating things you'll find, including:-

A good collection of horse brasses, terrets, swingers, horse bells, shoes and bits - including the savage types banned in the early 20th Century.
Old veterinary implements and relics from household kitchens of old
A rare collection of brass stamps used in the workhouse at Purton
Traps and alarm guns, plus a unique 19th Century clockwork crow scarer which fired blank, 12 bore cartridges
70 different brass beer barrel bushes and unusual decorative skewers from the meat trade. 
Mediaeval pottery found on the Waterperry Estate.


Gordon was recently televised on an antiques programme, so his fame is rightly spreading.



This excellent establishment has become quite famous, with a dedicated number of visitors who now just come for the food!  It managed to get into the list of 'best garden shop restaurants' as published by Delicious Magazine who had this to say:

Teashop at Waterperry Gardens
If you’re hungry the teashop is renowned for its freshly baked scones and offers a wide range of cakes, pastries and light meals. It also sells Waterperry apple juice made from apples grown on site.



The parish church of St Mary the Virgin at Waterperry is widely considered to be an architectural gem.

Nestling close to the manor house, the plain exterior - including an unusual wooden tower - belies the beauty and history inside - in fact few small churches can boast such a wonderful collection of ancient glass, brasses and monumental plaques.

Some of the many highlights include:-

The original Saxon chancel arch
Rare 12th Century floor tiles
Three lancet windows containing glass dating back to 1220
Jacobean memorial wall tablet
15th century brasses depicting ruling families of old


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Last modified: 05/05/2017