GREAT Dixter at Northiam has been transformed by a £8 million conservation project.
The completion of the four year project coincides with Great Dixter being named the Best Garden in the Uk by readers of Countryfile magazine.
Two historic buildings on the site will be open to the public for the first time.
They are the 500 year-old Great Barn, one of the largest and most significant surviving medieval timber frame barns in the South East, and the adjoining three 19th century brick built oast houses.
The conservation project has been funded by a £3.79 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), substantial contributions from the Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Wolfson Foundation, Foyle Foundation, Royal Oak Foundation, Tanner Trust and the EU Rural Development Programme.
There have also been substantial gifts from individual donors and the Friends of Great Dixter.
The late Christopher Lloyd, who lived at Great Dixter, was one of the 20th century’s most inspiring and original plantsmen and garden writers.
His tradition of experimenting, innovating and constantly changing Great Dixter’s world famous garden is being carried on today by his head gardener, Fergus Garrett and his team.
Dixter has long been a place of pilgrimage and a training ground for gardeners.
The Dixter estate has been re-united with its early 20th century model farm buildings, now converted into a teaching space, an outdoor study area, student accommodation and offices.
Fergus Garrett, Chief Executive of the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, said: “The restoration of the Great Barn and Dixter Farm buildings has significantly enlarged Great Dixter for everyone to enjoy.
“When visitors come down the front path it will be to the Lloyd family’s country estate as well as a much loved house and garden.
“The hugely generous funding, achieved through much hard work, has meant that we have been able to stop the front of Dixter House falling down and keep everyone who lives, works and visits it warm and dry throughout the year.”
Great Dixter is famed for its meadow garden and alluring combination of wildness, native flora and introduced species.
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said: “Great Dixter is quintessentially English and an inspiration to gardeners, whatever their level of expertise. The estate is revitalised, with the garden looking as beautiful as ever, particularly as the summer draws to a close.
“The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to have funded the renovation of the Great Barn and Oast House which gives the site a much greater coherence and in so doing enables many more people to visit and learn about Christopher Lloyd’s enduring passion for our horticultural heritage.”
The barn still plays an essential role in the working of the estate and is used for making hurdles and fences for the garden.
An outbuilding adjacent to the barn houses the new state-of-the-art biomass boiler fuelled by local wood to heat the house.
Fergus Garrett continued, “Christopher was one of the most inspirational figures of his generation. A brilliant gardener, a great friend to all us who shared his passion for Dixter, plants and life. Even though Dixter has now developed and moved forward it has not changed. He would have been proud.”
The house and gardens are open until October 28, Tuesday to Sunday. Gardens 11 am – 5 pm (last admission) House 2 -5pm.
Admission charges are House and Gardens: Adult £9.50 Child £5 Gardens only: Adult £7.50, child £4.