A spectacular example of a Regency garden created in the picturesque style.
Sprinkled with follies, serpentine paths, lakes, wrought-iron bridges and a Rockery, it was described by The Guardian as: ‘A miniature world…as absurdly pretty as illustrations to a fairy tale’. As you wander around the garden, there are glimpses of the thatched Swiss Cottage, now a wedding venue.
Don’t miss the Pulhamite-lined Grotto and Fernery!
The gardens are open for most of the year and are a magical place for children to visit.
The garden has undergone a recent restoration project and is managed by the Shuttleworth Trust.
Shuttleworth Swiss Garden is an RHS partner garden.
The Ongley family bought the Old Warden estate in the late 17th century.
The Swiss Garden was created by Robert, 3rd Lord Ongley between 1824 and 1832. Ongly was obsessed with Switzerland – he even ordered the village girls to dress up in Swiss dress. It was probably inspired by J B Papworth’s Hints on Ornamental Gardening – a visitor in 1839 commented that it was ‘the most extraordinary garden in the world made out of a bog’. The Swiss Cottage was designed by PF Robinson c1825.
With no heirs, Lord Ongley sold the estate to Joseph Shuttleworth in 1872. Shuttleworth made some changes to the garden and commissioned Henry Clutton to rebuild the main house. It was designed to imitate Gawthorpe Hall.
The estate was transferred to the Shuttleworth Trust during World War II and has since been leased by Bedfordshire County Council.