The Walled Garden is divided into several ornamental gardens.
It was recreated in 1990s in memory of the present Lord Cholmondeley’s grandmother. The gardens were designed by Isabel and Julian Bannerman.
Look out for the double-herbaceous border, an Italian garden, a formal rose parterre, fruit and vegetable gardens, a glasshouse, temple, statues, fountains and modern sculptures.
To the west side of the house, sculptures merge with the landscape. Some created specially for Houghton, they include works by James Turrell, Richard Long, Anya Gallaccio, Stephen Cox, Rachel Whiteread and Henry Moore.
The gardens are open on selected days only from May until September – check the website for details.
Historic Houses members visit for free at certain times – see website for details.
Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, inherited the estate in 1700. In 1721, Walpole commissioned James Gibbs to draw up plans for the house – these were later revised by Colen Campbell. William Kent designed the interiors which were filled with one of the greatest collections of European art in Britain.
Sir Robert was made 1st Earl of Orford in 1742. On his death, the estate passed to his son who inherited debts of £40,000. As the family fortune decreased, so did the estate. In 1791, Houghton passed to Horace Walpole, Robert’s younger son who was succeeded by 4th Earl Cholmondeley, grandson of Robert’s daughter.
Spending most of the time at their estate in Cheshire, with little interest in Houghton, Houghton was described in 1841 as ‘a melancholy instance of premature decay’.
After repeated unsuccessful attempts to sell Houghton, the estate was let to tenants. It was rescued just after the First World War by the future 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley and his wife, Sybil.
Houghton is currently the home of 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley and his family.