Timeline

1273

  • Tongs held by Simon de Tonge, mentioned in ‘Hundred Rolls’ of Kent.

1512

  • Tongswood recorded as seat of Dunk family ( known as clothiers and later ironworkers)

1660

  • Oliver Cromwell stations Ironsides in Hawkhurst. Surrounding land of Tongswood House becomes known as Barrack Fields.

1718

  • Sir Thomas Dunk Kt. (Sheriff of London 1711) dies, endowing to Hawkhurst six almshouses, a school for 20 boys, and a house for a school master.

1733

  • William Richards inherits estate and according to conditions of will for himself and future heirs, changes his name to Dunk.

1741

  • William’s daughter, Anne, current owner of estate with fortune of £110,000, marries Hon. George Montagu (2nd Earl of Halifax), who adds Dunk to his name.

1753

  • Anne dies at just 28 years old.
  • George Montagu-Dunk (Lord Halifax) conveys lease on Tongswood to Jeremiah Curteis (rumoured leader of Hawkhurst Gang) for yearly rent of six pence for 1000 years.

1767

  • Curteis conveys interest to William Jenkins.

1784

  • Jenkins dies. Estate is sold to Mr. David Langton then passes through Wilson and Cole families.

1839

  • Tongswood purchased at auction by Hon. Felix Tollemarche.

1848

  • Tongswood purchased at auction by Major George Robert Stevenson of the 7th Dragoon Guards.

1861

  • Tongswood inhabited by Mr. Valentin Elwes.

1868

  • William Cotteril (tea broker) buys estate for £8750.
  • Glasshouses built by Foster & Pearson Limited of Nottingham in late 1800’s, probably during Cotteril’s ownership

1891

  • Captain John Julian Newton-Spice buys estate.

1892

  • 'Misses Goldsmid of Portman Square' buy estate – sisters of Sir Julian Goldsmid of Somerhill.

1903

  • Estate bought by Mr. Charles Gunther, High Sheriff of Kent (1926-27) and chairman of OXO

1904

  • More glasshouses were added including The Melon House. Adjustments were made to the Vinery with The Fernery added and the roofs raised. The walls of the gardens were also raised.

1910

  • Gunther’s wife, Leonie, dies of an illness.

1912

  • Gunther marries Helen Bell who encouraged development of gardens.

1914-18

  • Gunther’s sons, Charles and Norman (MC), along with 12 other men from the estate, die in WW1. Memorial is erected.

1925

  • Tongswood sub-tropical gardens are featured in Gardeners’ Chronicle Magazine.

1927

  • Tongswood Gardens considered one of top 50 in the country.

1930

  • The Rockery is featured in Country Life Magazine.

1931

  • Charles Gunther dies of a heart attack (aged 68) at The Paper Mill, his shooting lodge.

1936

  • Helen auctions outlying portions of estate.

1939-45

  • Tongswood House requisitioned by army during WW2.

1946

  • Estate sold to St Ronan’s school.
  • Walled Garden is leased to a succession of market gardeners including Jack Cripps, Roland Playford, Jim Weeks and Peter and Karen Horn.

1995

  • Peter and Karen Horn buy the garden, turn it into a plant nursery and change the name from Tongswood Gardens to The Walled Nursery.

2010

  • Monty and Emma Davies buy The Walled Nursery.
  • Shop is re-designed to incorporate locally produced crafts and gifts.
  • The Plant Sales area is re designed and all plants are raised up onto benches.
  • The Walled Kitchen Garden Network state the Walled Nursery to hold one of the most intact collection of Victorian kitchen garden glasshouses left in the UK.
  • Emma talks on BBC Radio Kent Sunday Gardening Show in what turns into annual updates about the progress of the Nursery.

2011

  • Clear overgrowth to extend car park.
  • Renovations begin on the Vinery
  • The ‘working’ greenhouse (not Victorian) is replaced with a brand new polytunnel.
  • Wealden Times use Nursery as location for fashion shoot.
  • First Bazaar at the Walled Nursery.
  • Nursery applies for Brown Tourist Sign and is refused by Kent County Council.

2012

  • Wettest year on record threatens futures of nurseries across the country.
  • Campaign for Brown Tourist Sign continues with local media support and public petition. Campaign featured in Kent & Sussex Courier.
  • Nursery grows flowers for Heather Appleton’s Russian State Garden at Hampton Court Flower Show which won Silver Gilt.
  • Online Walled Nursery Gardening Club opens.
  • Café opens.
  • First commercial filmed at the Walled Nursery – an internet advert for O2.
  • 'Memorial to a Memorial'. Installation by artist, Vivian Pedley, inspired by the men from the estate who died in the Great War. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-19206545

2013

  • Jacqui Ruthven, chief propagator at Sissinghurst Castle, joins The Walled Nursery as Head of Propagation.
  • Emma discusses the plight of nurseries on Money Box Live on BBC Radio 4
  • Inaugural Chelsea Fringe event at the Nursery.
  • Wall of Pane Sponsorship Programme introduced for restoration of glasshouses.
  • Lecture evenings and courses are introduced at the Nursery.
  • Nursery is finally given a Brown Tourist Sign by Kent County Council, increasing visitors immediately.
  • Dipingo Design creates greeting cards featuring photos of the Nursery.
  • Our conservation of the glasshouses is featured on BBC South East Today News.
  • Meridian Tonight News report on the Nursery's preparations for the autumn hurricane.
  • Christmas storms batter the Walled Nursery. 300 panes of glass lost in Vinery. Melon House damaged by flooding.
  • Request permission from Council to save Vinery using powder coated aluminium. Permission denied.

2014

  • Further storms and floods cause sinkholes and leave the glasshouses requiring extensive renovation.
  • Repeated discussions with Council regarding saving Vinery with powder coated aluminium result in more refusals.
  • The Walled Nursery welcomes the Changeling Theatre Company for the first of their annual open air performances at the Nursery.
  • Astilbe & Sorrel Florist opens at the Nursery.
  • The Walled Nursery is featured on BBC 2's gardening programme, Big Dreams, Small Spaces, with Monty Don.

2015

  • Petition started to save Vinery using powder coated aluminium.
  • Carnation House end panel falls away. Roof now resting on rotten sill. All glass removed while structure awaits renovation.
  • The shepherd's hut arrives at the Nursery.
  • First Local Makers' Fair held in conjunction with Cranbrook Iron.
  • Shortlisted to final three for The English Garden Future Fund bursary scheme.
  • Featured in the Sunday Telegraph by Francine Raymond.
  • All glass removed from Vinery for safety as condition deteriorates beyond repair. Total rebuild now necessary.