The attractive gardens at Heale House were restored at the beginning of the twentieth century by Harold Peto.
Explore the partly walled vegetable garden with its stunning apple and pear tunnels.
Wander through the woodland garden with its authentic Japanese tea-house and red Nikko bridge.
Enjoy the terrace in front of the house as well as beautiful spring bulbs, magnolia collection and colour-themed borders.
And in February don’t miss the north side of the garden with its carpet of snowdrops and aconites.
Heale House is owned by the Rasch family.
Historic Houses members visit for free.
There are several versions of the history of Heale House and with little documentary evidence, there are gaps and contradictions in its ownership. In October 1533, Sir John Cope granted the manor of Heale to William Green for an annual fee of £22. Green held various positions and became MP in 1547 probably because he owned a property in the borough. It is thought he built a house at Heale called ‘Le Court Place’. Green died c.1554, and his widow was still living at Heale in 1576. After her death, their daughter Margaret, wife of Gerard Errington, inherited the property.
By 1589, Lawrence Hyde was called to the Bar and gave his address as Heale House; he had seventeen children. On Hyde’s death, the property was inherited by Alexander, Lawrence’s fourth son who later became the Bishop of Salisbury. As a Royalist, Charles II took refuge here after the Battle of Worcester and was allegedly shown to a secret chamber by Mrs. Hyde. He stayed until a boat was ready to take him to France. Hyde’s son, Robert inherited the family estates in 1667 and it is thought he rebuilt Heale House. On his death in 1722, the house was inherited by a cousin who had no children.
The next owner was William Bowles and his wife Dinah. Bowles was made Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1782 and in 1784 was asked by Samuel Johnson to become a member of the Essex Head Club. [The Club was founded the year before and was dedicated
to the extension of knowledge. Members met three times a week at Essex Head in Essex Street; attendance was obligatory.] William and Dinah were friends with Fanny Burney and stayed with her in February 1785. Their son, also William, became Admiral of the Fleet and married Hon. Frances Temple; they had no children.
In 1894 Heale House was bought by Louis Greville. He employed Detmar Blow and Harold Peto as architect and landscape gardener respectively. Louis Greville was Secretary at the British Embassy in Tokyo and was inspired by an article Gardens in Japan written by Mrs Hugh Fraser and published in Country Life. Greville paid for four Japanese gardeners to visit Heale and build a replica of the Nikko Bridge, a Tea House of wood and thatch and a Tea Garden.
The Tunnel Garden lies to the North of the Japanese Garden and is a raised rectangular garden divided into four quarters by a grass and paved walk. The south side of the garden is lined with a wooden pergola and when I visited in June, it was covered in roses, sweet peas and clematis. The apple and pear tree tunnels were planted in 1965.
Past the Stables, at last the main stage comes into view, with the house as the backdrop and the stage paved in York stone with box beds and the Croquet Lawn to the South. To the east of the house, there are steps down to the River with a balustraded boat Terrace designed by Peto and a seat to sit and watch the river.