CELEBRATING 60 YEARS
“This year Gravetye celebrates 60 years as a hotel. To honour this remarkable achievement a series of restorations has taken place, all of which preserve Gravetye’s individual character.” Elizabeth Hosking, owner of Gravetye Manor
Gravetye has been and still is a special place for Jeremy and I. We celebrated our wedding night here many years ago. When the manor went up for sale, Jeremy couldn’t resist the challenge to restore this beautiful house and garden and to protect it from falling into the wrong hands. We wanted to ensure the philosophy of great country house hospitality continued and to maintain and nurture William Robinson’s garden. Since buying Gravetye in 2010, we have undertaken a number of restoration projects in the hotel itself and the gardens. Both Jeremy and I were, as indeed were all the staff, incredibly keen to keep Gravetye’s heritage alive and not erase it. There is something magical about the manor and its gardens that comes from more than bricks & mortar. It is an intangible quality that arises, I believe, from all that has taken place here over the past 420 years. Every part of this painstaking restoration project has been carried out with a sensitivity that respects the past but looks forward to the future and I believe that our new dining room is a shining example of this. The new restaurant opened this year, in time for our 60th anniversary celebrations and I feel it truly captures the essence of the latest chapter in Gravetye’s everevolving story.
â€œGravetye has a special place in the hearts of so many of our regular guests, my love affair with the property started in 1984 when I celebrated my engagement over a lengthy lunch. For me the emotion of the house and gardens is its attraction, underpinned by great food and wine with generous hospitality from my fabulous team. We now celebrate 60 years as a hotel, ever mindful of its legacy but at the same time excited for the future.â€? Andrew Thomason, Managing Director, Gravetye Manor
Gravetye at a glance The manor and its gardens are a jigsaw puzzle of intricate details, interplaying with each other to create what you see, hear, taste and feel today.
Built by Richard Infield in 1598, the manor has had many owners but the most notable being William Robinson, one the world’s most respected gardeners. What is now the Holly bedroom was used by Robinson as his library.
Not a natural lake, but a by-product from iron smelting. Gravetye’s original owner Richard Infield bought the estate around 1570 and started iron smelting, a process that demanded water power. To achieve this, the original stream was damned to provide a head of water to power the water wheels used in iron smelting. The wheels powered furnace bellows more effectively, and also drove huge forge hammers that pounded pig iron into refined bars, hence the name Hammer Lakes.
Often described as the heart of Gravetye, the kitchen garden provides the hotel with a wide variety of fresh produce. Alongside the abundance of fruit and vegetables the garden also produces a wonderful range of fresh flowers that are used in the hotel’s flower arrangements. The garden’s unique elliptical shape was devised by its creator William Robinson, as the ellipse forces cold air to fall down and escape through the frost gates, so preventing frost damage.
Originally built in the 1920’s this wood and glass structure was renovated to its former glory in 2012. The house contains four varieties: Peregrine, Amsden June, Red Haven and Gorgeous, these have been chosen as they prosper under glass. As with all stone fruit, they are grown as a fan to maximise fruit.
There has been an orchard at Gravetye since William Robinson owned the manor. The two acres are presently made up of three generations of planting. The trees are on vigorous rootstocks and are trained as traditional open centre bushes. 7
William Robinson buys Gravetye World famous gardener and creator of the English Natural Garden bought the house and added to the initial 700 acres to create 1100 acres in total. Robinson demolished the north east service wing and replaced it with a new larger wing and servants hall.
William created the flat lawn you see to the north of the house. This was called a ‘Playground’ as this was where he would enjoy a game of croquet.
1898 – 1901 Robinson created our iconic walled oval kitchen garden.
Our Heritage Everyone who visits Graveteye can’t help but feel the sense of history that envelops the manor and its gardens; this tangible heritage underpins everything we do and shapes the way we move forward.
Gravetye estate land bought by Richard Infield Richard Infield a wealthy landowner took advantage of the abundance of iron ore, timber (for charcoal) and water power around Gravetye to start his iron smelting business. In 1595 he married Katherine and built the original Gravetye Manor House in 1598. Richard died shortly afterwards and the house was passed down generations of sons, until it was given to his great granddaughter Agnes who married Henry Faulconer, a barrister. Between 1702 and 1884, Agnes’ son Benjamin, followed by a number of tenants, occupied Gravetye.
The original house was built two rooms deep, when most houses were built one deep, a structure that is called ‘double pile’. Gravetye is an important early example of this style of architecture.
Peter believed that Gravetye should be a haven, a place for relaxation and contemplation; with this in mind he ensured no clocks were visible.
Peter Herbert creates the original country house hotel In 1958 hotelier and restaurateur Peter Herbert bought Gravetye, and the rest as they say is history…Peter, extended the north east wing increasing bedrooms from 10 to 18, restored the gardens and refilled the lower lake. However, more importantly, he had the inspirational idea of creating the quintessential English country house hotel. This concept might seem unexceptional today, but in the 1950s very few people travelled to the country for weekends away. One cannot underestimate the importance Peter played in transforming not just Gravetye, but the very notion of the country house hotel experience we enjoy today.
Jeremy & Elizabeth Hosking, former guests, love Gravetye so much, they buy it
There is no greater sign of loving a hotel than buying it, and that is what the Hoskings did in 2010. The hotel and the grounds were restored and modernised, with a sensitivity to the property’s long, distinguished and colourful past.
Celebrating 60 years of Gravetye being open as a hotel To commemorate this landmark anniversary, Gravetye now boasts a new beautiful glass fronted dining room that allows guests to connect with the surrounding gardens. The hotel is rightly recognised for its historically important gardens and Michelin-starred food, and this new addition to Gravetye creates a seamless blend between the two. 9
“This is the place I mean to live in.”
William Robinson on seeing Gravetye for the first time
Creator of Gravetye’s unique gardens
Born of humble parents in Ireland, William Robinson became one of England’s most important gardeners. His influence, which can still be felt today cannot be underestimated, without him there would be no mixed borders or common garden tools such as secateurs and hose pipes. Robinson’s main love was nature and believed that gardening should respect this. He felt that the Industrial Revolution (1760 -1840) was putting this at risk, with gardens becoming increasingly formal. He respected the ethos of the Arts & Crafts movement (1880 -1920), which like him was against mass production and keen to reintroduce traditional British crafts.
Robinson believed “a garden should encourage natural development and have respect for plant form, colour, growing habits and foliage, rather than adhere strictly to a layout.” His view was to eschew bedding plants and replace them with permanent species. A garden, he believed, should be an informal mix of native and exotic plants; hoards of bulbs found nestling in grasses and colours should be subtle and complementary. He saw a garden as a whole, the way different plants worked together, their flower, foliage, shape and size, formed everything he did.
Gravetye’s location greatly appealed to Robinson, its proximity to London allowed him to travel to his office in the capital with great ease. William would walk to Kingscote Station through the woods, where he would hand his muddy boots to a garden boy, who in turn would hand back a pair of freshly polished boots.
In 1909, sadly Robinson fell from a stile on his way to church in West Hoathly and injured his back. Unfortunately he never recovered, and so took to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. To help him move around his beloved gardens, he bought a half-track Citroen car in 1922, in which his guests often joined him.
During his 50 years at Gravetye, Robinson welcomed many distinguished visitors, including Gertrude Jekyll (another leading British Horticulturist), who wanted to witness the gardens for themselves. Queen Mary, wife of George V was also a notable guest.
William Robinson died in 1935, a service was held at St. Margaret’s Church West Hoathly, where the local children sang the appropriate “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. Robinson an early advocate of cremation was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, whose gardens he had designed in 1901.
Robinson before Gravetye 1838
Born in Ireland, started working as a garden boy for The Marquess of Waterford at Curraghmore. Later he became foreman at Ballykilcannan, the estate of Sir Hunt Johnson-Walsh. Left Ireland to go to Regents Park Gardens.
Became The Times newspaper horticultural correspondent. He went on to found eight gardening magazines and wrote nineteen books. These included The Wild Garden and The English Flower Garden – the bestselling gardening book ever printed. This success gave him enough money to buy Gravetye in 1885.
Robinson on his 90th birthday at Gravetye
Hand painted panels created by Claire Basler, evoking a sense of nature, echoing the partnership between garden and kitchen.
INTRODUCING OUR NEW DINING ROOM
Diners will experience an ethereal transition from manor to garden in our new glass fronted restaurant.
“I wanted diners to feel that they were sitting in the garden.” Sir Charles Knowles, Lead Architect
Feeding all the senses Our new dining room is a most fitting symbol for our 60th anniversary; it embodies the connection between the manor and its gardens that is apparent throughout the entire hotel. Our new dining room is the tangible result of three highly creative minds, Lead Architect Sir Charles Knowles in collaboration with interior designer Claire Nelson and owner Elizabeth Hosking. All three agreed that the dining room should be a continuation of the gardens, so it comes as no surprise that there is strong sense of the botanical in everything they created. Sir Charles’ concept was of an ‘umbrella’, under which guests would dine, a structure set away from the stone walls using frameless glazing; the idea being to bring the manor’s gardens inside. The use of glass also allows light and sun to pour down on the floral rotating wall paintings created by Claire Basler. Elizabeth’s vision was complementary; she wanted a strong use of green and organically patterned
fabrics that only heightened and strengthened the affiliation between outside and inside. Claire Basler, introduced to the project by Claire Nelson, has produced a suite of paintings she calls ‘A walk in the gardens at Gravetye’, that hang throughout the dining room. Claire describes Gravetye’s gardens as: “having a poetic atmosphere” and it is this sentiment that has shaped what now decorates the walls. She also wanted to reflect the relationship between what is grown and then cooked at Gravetye, a visual representation of the joint accomplishment of Head Chef George Blogg and Head Gardener Tom Coward.
A new dining room in an historic building Sir Charles Knowles, our architect, knew that the new dining room would only succeed if it respected the manor’s history and the gardens that surrounded it. His concept was simple; to create a construction that would not compete with what already existed. The execution was anything but simple, with 120 detailed technical architectural drawings covering every single detail.
Sir Charles’ real design masterstroke was to give every diner a view of the garden. Sir Charles comments: “When one thinks of Gravetye, one thinks of its magnificent gardens, so to not offer every guest eating at the manor the opportunity to gaze over the inspirational grounds, would in my opinion be criminal.”
“I see painting as an adventure, there will be effects and impressions that I did not expect.” Claire Basler, Artist
Interiors linking the contemporary with the historic Claire Nelson, the dining room’s interior designer shares a history with Gravetye as she used to visit the hotel as a child, when her father dropped off game and fish from the family estate for use in the hotel’s kitchen. Claire recalls, “working on this project has been a trip down memory lane and it has been wonderful to work with what seems like an old friend.” Claire and Elizabeth have ensured the floor to ceiling glasswindowed restaurant respects the manor’s heritage whilst creating a sense of modern elegance. A good example being the banquette upholstery, crisp green velvet, lifted with bright accent cushions in zesty limes, pinks, champagnes and cerise tones. A visual representation of modern and timeless.
We believe that this new dining room celebrates their skill and creativity, a meeting point of nature and culinary artistry. 15
SEASONAL FOOD… NATURALLY
Smokehouse Gravetye’s self-sufficiency extends beyond the kitchen garden. Our smokehouse has been on the estate for as long as anyone can remember; it is lit four times a week, using a mixture of pine shavings and hay, a combination that allows the smoke to freely move around. Whatever is being smoked goes in at 11pm and is then collected the next morning. Alongside salmon (we add black tea and use methods dating back 50 years), we also smoke venison (pine needles and pine cones, the perfect accompaniment) and we even smoke our own salt.
“The food we serve is natural, therefore I always serve it on white plates. They allow whatever is on them to be shown off, to be the star attraction. Like everything at Gravetye, there are no gimmicks, no fads.”
“The food we serve must always reflect time and place.” George Blogg, Head Chef
Ingredients, especially those grown here, are everything to Head Chef George Blogg and his team. Gravetye’s kitchen garden is an abundant source of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, and no dish is ever served in our dining room that does not include at least one ingredient from here. The seasons play an enormous role in everything that comes out of the kitchen, which can be more challenging in winter, but this is when George’s skill comes to the fore. “I enjoy the testing colder months, as it stretches your imagination. I love being presented with say a celeriac and wondering how I am going to turn this humble vegetable into food worthy of a Michelin star.” To help him achieve this task, George is constantly learning and embracing new techniques, but that does not mean he is a slave to food fashion, George comments: “The cooking at Gravetye is modern, it is lighter, healthier than it might have been in the past, but like everything else at the hotel, it has a heritage and I must respect that.”
Afternoon Tea The great British tradition, enjoyed all over the country. Not to be messed with, but when it gets created the Gravetye way, it manages to retain its classic quality, but with extra flavour. How does George do this? Firstly he bakes his own clotted cream; this means everyone gets a generous helping of the crust that forms on the top. Secondly after much taste testing, the team has decided that their homemade jam, a careful balance of strawberry and raspberry, is the best. The contrast between the sweetness of the strawberry and the acidity of the raspberry brings out the best in their homemade scones.
A Local Supply What we don’t grow, we buy, though we obviously do not buy from just anyone. George chooses his suppliers very carefully, as well as quality, he takes into consideration the availability and the morality on how any livestock is reared or caught. Suppliers tend to be local, our game, beef and lamb all come from nearby farms. Looking at our supply book, the furthest any ingredient has to travel is Scotland.
Can I recommend…? The relationship between guest and Gravetye is very special and one that is held in high regard by every member of staff, and no more so than by our Head Sommelier. Alexis states that one of the highlights of his role is introducing a new wine to a guest. “ Obviously my team would never push a wine onto someone, and if they know what they like, then we take great pleasure in serving their chosen wine to them. However, if they do ask for a recommendation, we take the time to ask about their personal tastes and what they are eating. We then take this opportunity to offer them a wine that they may never have heard of and in so doing may change their perceptions on wine.”
“A great chef producing great food demands great wine.”
Local Wines In keeping with Head Chef George Blogg’s passion for local suppliers, Alexis too has a great affection for British wines. Alexis knows these estates well and often buys directly from them. Their limestone soil and climate make for excellent wines, in particular sparkling.
Alexis Jamin, Head Sommelier
A DISTINCTLY INDIVIDUAL CELLAR Gravetye’s wine list reflects the hotel’s personality and spirit – ‘look forward, but don’t forget what has gone before.’ Scan the list and you will find old favourites from France, a wide selection of English wines, artisan producers, biodynamic, vegetarian and vegan wines, all sitting alongside a selection of limited edition wines – our cellar gems. Every single bottle is handpicked by our Head Sommelier Alexis Jamin. Alexis works directly with his chosen suppliers and regularly travels to meet wine makers and merchants in person. These invaluable discussions allow Alexis to understand how the wines are made and of course taste. When choosing wines, Alexis has a very clear view: “Obviously we need a good range, but the range needs to be precise, I want to stock wines that you won’t find anywhere else. Usually the wines come from smaller wine
makers who have a passion for their craft, who embrace traditional methods, but also not afraid to push boundaries.” Alexis points out that his team, made up of four, also has an influence: “they each have their own particular thoughts and tastes, and this variety is evident on the wine list. This collective approach adds a richness to the wines we select.”
“ I always try to reach Highout Wycombe to smaller producers, the artisan estates, where possible local.” London
Alexis Jamin, Head Sommelier Alexis has been working as Head Sommelier at Gravetye for over a year, previously he worked at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons. Originally from Tours in France, he has a number of degrees and qualifications to his name; one in management, three in wine and two in being a sommelier.
“ We spend a lot of time ensuring which wine goes best with each dish – it’s a tough job eating Chelmsford delicious food and drinking exceptional wine.”
Kingscote Estate Bolney Wine Estate Nyetimber Stopham Vineyard and Winery
Royal Tunbridг Wells The Chapel Down Winery
Bluebell Vineyard Estatс Ridгvеw Wine Estate Blackboys Vineyard
Our chosen English wine makers...
Nature is respected and welcomed. Its influence can be felt throughout the manor.
Wine… as nature intended A growing section on our wine list is organic, biodynamic and vegan wine – now making up 26%. True to the Gravetye way, this is not following fashion, but a true belief that these wines offer the same taste and quality as the other wines on the list, but with added complexity and reduced sulphites. Also, if George is creating vegetarian and vegan dishes that use naturally grown vegetables, it makes sense to mirror this on our wine menu. Alexis researches the provenance of every wine to ensure its authenticity, as a lot of wines that are labelled as say organic or vegan, in fact are not. He checks, amongst other factors: pesticides, fertilisers and sulphite levels. Biodynamic Wine
What does this mean? The official definition is: ‘a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition.’ In layman’s terms, biodynamic wine is made with a set of farming practices that views the vineyard as one organism. Only natural materials, soils, and composts are used to sustain the vineyard. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides are forbidden. Animals live on the soil and fertilise it, creating a rich, fertile environment for the vines to grow in. Farming practices, from pruning to harvesting, are controlled by the biodynamic calendar. Wine making tasks are split into four kinds of days: root days (pruning), leaf days (watering), fruit days (harvesting) and flower days (the vineyard is left alone).
Well, isn’t all wine vegan? No is the answer, and apart from what is used for fertiliser, the key to making a wine vegan is the fining agents. These are substances that a wine maker uses to clarify the wine – i.e. removing the dead yeast that sinks to the bottom of the barrel. A lot of these fining agents include animal products such as egg whites, milk protein, beef blood and fish products. Luckily there are veganfriendly alternatives, such as carbon and limestone.
Alexis is particularly proud, and quite rightly so, of this collection of truly exceptional wine, of which he may only stock two-three bottles a year.
“I want wine that tastes of the terroir.”
“These wines have a story to tell, there is an emotional connection.” These wines come from estates and vineyards that Alexis knows intimately and so can therefore be confident that the wine they produce is remarkable. Usually there are only around 500 bottles made each year, meaning that the wine is the definition of handcrafted. The majority of these wines come from France, Alexis is French after all, but there are some cellar gems from Italy and Oregon. 21
A FRUITFUL RELATIONSHIP Head Chef and Head Gardener, on their own remarkable, but together…
We think the unique relationship between George and Tom is what makes dining at Gravetye so special. Get these two in a room together and their enthusiasm is infectious as they clearly have a respect for each other’s disciplines, as well as being good friends. They spend a lot of time in each other’s company ensuring the right produce is grown… and that takes planning. Tom comments: “George obviously leads what is grown, and I advise him on whether it will flourish at Gravetye. Sometimes the results of our decisions are not realised for years. In the case of asparagus, you don’t harvest the first crop for at least three years after planting. We are always planning further ahead than most people would realise and then have to wait patiently to see how everything grows.”
George responds: “I might have a certain dish in mind for a menu, using a specific fruit or vegetable that Tom planted months ago, and then due to bad weather or pests, it is not always available. So, I just have to adapt the dish, and that’s what makes cooking at Gravetye so exciting. There are however magical moments, walking round the garden and harvesting fruit and vegetables that have been lovingly tended by Tom and his team, then going back to the kitchen and using what you have harvested.”
Both agree that they have never worked anywhere like Gravetye, saying “everything here is genuine, it’s not forced – you can’t do that with nature. In fact what we offer between us is actually very simple, good quality seasonal produce, cooked to perfection.”
George Blogg – Head Chef Even though George studied Geology at university, the fact he had been working in kitchens in his native Dorset since he was 14, was probably a sign that his real passion was food. He has been heading up Gravetye’s kitchen for four years and in that time the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star.
Tom Coward – Head Gardener Working in gardens all his life, Tom has a true passion for horticulture. He trained at the Isle of Wight College, Wisley, Pershore College of Horticulture and Kew Gardens where he gained a Diploma in Botanical Horticulture. He has worked in gardens in France and in England for Paul McCartney and at Great Dixter. He has worked at Gravetye since 2010 and heads up a team of eight gardeners.
George Blogg (left) and Tom Coward (right), partaking in their daily ritual of harvesting.
Asparagus A TASTE OF GRAVETYE Tom Coward and George Blogg offer tips on how to grow and cook this archetypal English vegetable.
Grow Asparagus, freshness is key to experiencing its full flavour. The young spears are growing so fast, that after harvesting they continue to respire, burning up the sweetness in their stems. So to deliver the best flavoured spears we harvest every day through the season, just before lunch, so it is as fresh on the plate as it can be.
Slow-cooked Dingley Dell pork belly, green asparagus, wild garlic, gremolata and cider gel. Serves 4 people. Pork Belly Ingredients and Method Half a top-quality pork belly, skinned 2 large onions, peeled and chopped roughly 1 lemon, zest only 4 cloves garlic, peeled 4 leaves sage I small sprig of rosemary, no stalk 20g salt 20g muscovado sugar For the pork belly, first make sure there is no skin or bone left on the meat and trim off any large amounts of fat. Butterfly the belly into two thin halves. Blend the onion, lemon zest, 4 cloves of garlic, sage, rosemary, salt and sugar together to form a wet marinade and rub this all over the two pieces of pork belly. Cover the belly and leave in the fridge for at least two hours to marinate. Remove the belly from the fridge, rub away any excess marinade, then roll up each piece of the belly. Wrap the
rolled belly first in a piece of parchment paper, and then in cling film to form a reasonably thick wall to shape the belly into an even cylinder. Tie the ends trying not to leave any air inside. Cook these two rolls of belly in the oven at 90Â°C for 10 hours. Take the belly out of the oven, leave to cool for 20 minutes, then open up the cling film, discard any liquid, then wrap tightly again in cling film making sure not to trap any air when tying the ends. Refrigerate for at least four hours.
Green Asparagus Ingredients and Method
Cider Gel Ingredients and Method
16 pieces of green asparagus
150g cider vinegar
Bend and snap, where there is least resistance. Only use the top tender part. Peel this towards the broken end.
150g apple juice 15g agar-agar powder
Gremolata Ingredients and Method
Establishing the crop is probably the trickiest part of growing good asparagus and positioning the bed well is essential for success.
15g flat leaf parsley leaves
Asparagus has to have plenty of sun and good drainage. It is beneficial if the soil can be matured and cultivated well into the Autumn and left to rest until the Spring, when the crowns can be planted out in rows. We do this by digging a trench about one spit deep and lining the crowns out along the bottom, then covering the tops with soil. As the crowns grow we earth up around them until the trench is full, and the plants have had the opportunity to develop the best root system possible.
100ml olive oil
After planting, the asparagus should not be harvested for the next three years. The first picking is usually around mid-April, and we continue to crop every day for about eight weeks.
1 lemon, zest only
Add the cider vinegar, apple juice, cider, a pinch of salt and agar-agar powder to a pan and bring to the boil. Whisk for five minutes to dissolve the powder, pour into a container to cool. When cool this should set into a jelly. Blend this jelly to a purĂŠe, pass through a fine sieve and then add to a plastic bottle.
Half a clove of garlic Zest the lemon and grate the garlic into a container with a fine microplane. Chop the parsley leaves extremely finely and add to the container. Mix in the olive oil.
Wild Garlic Ingredients 20 leaves of wild garlic 4 heads of wild garlic flowers
Final cooking and serving Slice each piece of the belly rolls into six even slices, remove the cling film, then sear each side in a hot nonstick pan to get a nice golden brown colour and finish with a little gremolata. Blanch the asparagus spears in boiling salted water until just soft, for about three minutes,
and blanch the wild garlic leaves very quickly for 20 seconds. Add the belly, asparagus and wilted garlic leaves to warm plates, pipe some of the cider gel, drizzle some more gremolata and finish with some wild garlic flowers. 25
“It is an honour to work in this garden, to reclaim it for its original purpose” Tom Coward, Head Gardener The garden is tended by our Head Gardener Tom Coward, his assistants Helena and Stuart and their team of gardeners. They employ a combination of methods that Robinson would have used 100s of years ago, alongside the more contemporary; wherever possible they do not use chemicals. Tom believes that it is important to keep the garden’s heritage alive, but also to move forward, just as Robinson would have wanted. When one walks up the hill to the kitchen garden, the first thing that often catches people’s eye are the exotic tress that hang over the wall, this is a classic example of Robinson’s obsession with juxtaposing the formal with the informal. Not that the kitchen garden is informal, Tom Coward comments: “I try to abide to three principles when working on the kitchen garden, these are: aesthetics (the garden must look attractive), heritage (honouring Robinson’s work) and productivity (the chosen varieties must have a good yield).
THE JEWEL IN GRAVETYE’S CROWN Gravetye’s kitchen garden is often described as its heart. This unique elliptical garden originally created by William Robinson in 1898 could be described as a labour of love, the walls alone built from Sussex sandstone took three years to build.
Location, Location, Location The garden is situated on a south-facing slope, the perfect angle to catch the sun’s light and warmth. The position of the walls and the beds themselves help Tom and his team decide what is grown where. On the south walls fruit trees are grown, in the beds in front of them, Tom plants baby vegetables, as they demand good sunlight to flourish. North-facing walls are home to hardier plants such as currants and sour cherries, with the beds growing
watercress, Jerusalem artichokes and cut flowers used for the hotel’s arrangements. The central beds contain a wide variety of produce, but Tom does not just plant anything: “We choose to grow premium produce, fruit and vegetables that are hard to buy from your normal supplier. We also prefer to select crops that taste so much better when you grow them yourselves – blueberries are an excellent example.”
Bursting with fruit and vegetables throughout the year Our kitchen garden has been carefully planned to provide Head Chef George Blogg and his team with a continual supply of premium fresh produce.
Spring Asparagus Rhubarb Overwintered vegetables from our polytunnel Early potatoes forced in our polytunnel
Hemorocalis Day Lily - one of the best edible flowers First early potatoes Gooseberries Currants Strawberries Blueberries Baby vegetables Elsewhere on the Estate The Peach House will start producing, the first variety is Amsden June which will crop in the last week of June, the remaining three varieties (Peregrine, Red Haven and June) will crop until late August.
Vegetables are at their peak, some of which are used for preserving Sweetcorn Cherries Plums First apples in August: Discovery, Golden Hills and Scrumptious
Autumn Squashes Pumpkins Apples are at their peak
“Robinson is everything to this garden.” Tom Coward – Head Gardener
Cabbage Brassicas Winter salads from our polytunnel Elsewhere on the Estate Forced rhubarb from our glasshouse 29
A historical garden, looking forward
“ There are no hedges at Gravetye – Robinson thought they were cruel.”
Flower Garden Just as William Robinson constantly played with and changed his mixed borders on a regular basis, so does Tom.
Orchard Blending with the woods behind them are two acres of apple trees. Some of which date back to William Robinson, though sadly a lot of these were lost in the great storm of 1987. Tom and previous gardeners have planted a further 50 trees to replace these, all chosen for the way their fruit blends with each other to produce our delicious tasting apple juice. Gravetye Juicing Apples • Howgate Wonder • Blenheim Orange • Bramley • Falstaff • Egremont Russet
35 acres of horticultural splendour. Complementing the kitchen garden are our flower garden, meadows, orchard and a formal croquet lawn, all evoking the spirit of William Robinson. Tom Coward does not want these gardens to be an historical monument, he does not slavishly copy what Robinson did, but he does want the gardens to represent each layer of history. Tom does not use chemicals, as William Robinson was against them and felt that gardens should welcome nature, they should be a managed ecosystem, not a tamed, clinical being. Tom chooses plants that he knows Robinson would have used, and ensures that Robinson’s balance between formality and wild is always adhered to.
Meadows – the living embodiment of Robinson’s passion Gravetye is synonymous with wild flowers and gardens – Robinson famously wrote The Wild Garden book. Of all the challenges that Tom and his team face, maintaining the meadows is their most taxing. Keeping a correct balance between ‘wild and weed’ takes skill and experience. The meadow’s diverse range of flowers and plants, ensures that the meadow is in full bloom from February to September, when it is mowed for hay.
The Croquet Lawn Dating back to around 1884 when William Robinson first bought Gravetye, this well kept lawn has always been an important feature. Originally called ‘The Playground”, the croquet lawn contrasts with the wild gardens either side of it, in keeping with Robinson’s preoccupation with the balance between wild and formal. 31
The colour of the woodland changing every day, especially beautiful are the beech and larch.
Wild garlic 100 acres providing the fresh green colours of Spring especially beech, oak and larch. Meadows Anemone Robinsoniana January to February: Galanthus and Crocus March: Daffodils always at their best on Mother’s Day. April: Wild Tulips May: Camassia under Apple Blossom Flower garden
A YEAR ROUND SENSORY EXPERIENCE Gravetye Manor’s gardens provide enjoyment and interest throughout the year. Wherever and whenever you walk, there is always something to see, touch and smell.
Strong colours after a grey Winter that contrast beautifully with the backdrop of Spring greens. Tulip display through foliage of herbaceous plants and Forget-Me-Nots. Azalea bank in flower.
Early Summer Meadows Contrast between the meadows and our croquet lawn at its most dramatic. Native meadow flora is at its best, thousands of Common Spotted Orchids. Flower garden Wisteria arch in full flower. Roses in flower throughout the garden and rambling over the manor.
Early Summer, a time for soft colours in the strong Summer light.
Meadows Early October: Continues to look beautiful with Devil’s-bit Scabious and Hawk’s-beard, until we have to mow the meadows and remove the grass. October to mid-November: Autumn Crocus Flower garden Salvia Dahlia Late October: Kniphofia rooperi Trees Parrotia Nyssa sylvatica Liquidambar Acer
Autumn colour is best around the end of October.
Trees March: Magnolia Campbellii Late April and early May: Handkerchief tree April: Magnolia walk and Cherry lawn Early May: Apple orchard in blossom
Late Summer Meadows August: Purple with Knapweed, clouds of finches feed on the seed.
Cuckooflower cardamine pratensis - nationally quite rare but locally abundant, delicious edible flower tasting of horseradish, mustard, chilli; good with steak tartare.
September/October: Devil’s-bit Scabious is a rare wild flower nationally but abundant at Gravetye Manor. The ecology of the meadow is at its most evident with crickets singing, spiders’ webs and a myriad of moths and butterflies. Flower garden Dahlia Salvia
Winter Wider estate Silhouettes of the trees and the beauty of the Winter landscape on a crisp, clear morning. Flower garden The structure, an important backdrop to the Winter landscape. Winter: Heather flowering Structural perennials shrubs and grasses giving interesting shapes and undulations, especially in frost.
Hotter colours in the mellow late summer light.
“Every arrangement embraces what Gravetye’s gardens have to offer”
To have and to hold Gravetye provides the perfect backdrop to any wedding, and of course every special day demands special flowers. Many couples choose to have their flowers created by Sue. “The most important part of the process for me is meeting the couple.” says Sue, “ No one wants to feel that their wedding is just another wedding, they want it to feel special, they want flowers that suit their style and personality.” Like the flowers in the hotel, Sue uses the garden as her inspiration, though obviously for weddings she has to buy them in. Sue will only use growers that she feels fit into the Gravetye ‘morallyresponsible’ checklist, as like Head Chef George Blogg, she shuns mass-produced, chemical heavy suppliers and where possible buys locally.
Sue Flight, Head Florist
“Wedding flowers come in all shapes and sizes – recently I produced an edible bouquet.”
Tom Coward, Head Gardener
Sue’s wedding bouquet checklist 1. Choose your wedding dress and the colour theme first so the flowers can be styled to suit.
5. Look at what flowers are in season; what colours work in the venue and what do you like?
Hint: A swatch of fabric is useful.
BRINGING THE MANOR TO LIFE, WITH FLOWERS Gravetye has always strived to create a seamless link between outside and inside, so it comes as no surprise that every floral arrangement in the hotel follows this style. For over 21 years Sue Flight has been producing stunning creations at Gravetye, and her inspiration has remained the same, the Gravetye gardens. Sue walks around the gardens with Tom Coward, sometimes on a daily basis, to see what is growing and then uses those flowers for her displays. However there is more to Gravetye than its flower beds, Sue forages for moss, twigs, leaves, in fact anything she can lay her hands on, to ensure that everything she creates has an organic feel – just as the master gardener William Robinson would have wanted. Sue also works with Tom when it comes to choosing what flowers to grow, her experience has taught her that brighter flowers work better in Gravetye, as the rooms, due to the manor’s age, tend to be dark.
Sue and her team arrange, freshen and water 80 arrangements a week.
2. Choose the colour of your wedding party (bridesmaids, ushers) before choosing your flowers. Hint: Swatches of fabric always useful. 3. Choose your florist, then spend time talking with them so they really understand you and your wedding. Hint: If possible choose a florist that knows the venue. 4. Theme of wedding, is it vintage, Hollywood Glam, country, formal etc.? Hint: Pictures are always useful.
Sue Flight, naturally talented City & Guilds in floral art and design Qualification: NAFAS National Teacher, Area Judge & Demonstrator Studied under Gregor Lersch Chelsea Flower Show medal winner: 3 x gold, 1 x silver and 1 x bronze
6. Budget, always best to discuss this and get quotes. Often several options are available, from basic bouquets up to more luxury bouquets. Some flowers are more expensive than others, and don’t forget inexpensive foliage can also be stunning, if used creatively. Hint: Get a couple of options on prices. 7. Find a few pictures or put together a design board on Pinterest, a visual reference will really help your florist. Hint: Bridal magazines are useful.
8. Personal embellishment. You might like to add a touch of sparkle. A few pearl-headed pins or a personal brooch of a loved one, a medal or other cherished embellishment. They can be tucked into the flowers or attached to the handle. Hint: If valuable add at the last minute. 9. Practice holding a bunch of flowers so you get used to it and know how you want it to look in photos. Hint: Normally arms just slightly bent work the best. 10. Once the day comes to an end, are you going to keep your bouquet, are you going to throw it to the girls, or you can have it preserved? Hint: If the latter, arrange for it to be preserved very quickly after the wedding.
Flower arranging workshops Sue runs a series of flower arranging classes at Gravetye, the content of the classes varies, but they always evoke the style and spirit of the gardens and the hotel. Sue comments: “Guests and visitors come to the hotel and always fall in love with gardens, with what Tom is doing today and what William Robinson created in the past. They want to create a little bit of Gravetye in their own homes, and what better way than with flowers?” To add an extra slice of Gravetye, the workshops come with a two-course lunch and a glass of wine. A feast for all the senses, one might say.
So how do you pronounce it?
We’ve been expecting you Mr Bond
The most commonly asked question by guests.
Walk into Gravetye Manor and the first face you will see is that of Brian Hunter, our Hall Porter. Brian started working here aged 24 as a kitchen porter and has never looked back. Brian believes that his Liverpudlian roots have helped with his role, “ I love meeting new guests and welcoming back old ones. I am usually the first person guests come into contact with, so it is really important that I give a good impression. There is no fixed “Gravetye Guest”, everyone is different and it is my job to make sure that each and everyone is treated as an individual, no matter who they are, just as they do in Liverpool.“
The answer: “Grave – as in serious” Tye - as in what you wear around your neck.”
“Always friendly, but always give guests their own space.”
Over the years Brian, who loves to give guests a tour of the manor and gardens, has welcomed the great and the good. One guest though does stick in his mind, the longest serving James Bond, Roger Moore, who was staying with fellow actor Michael Caine and his wife Shakira. Brian remembers; “ He was so friendly, but obviously I was in awe, so in awe, when I left his room, I called him Mr Bond! Luckily Mr Moore saw the funny side and laughed.”
Brian Hunter, Hall Porter
Talk to anyone who works at Gravetye and the word ‘family’ will pepper their conversation. There is a sense of pride, a sense of the custodian, that Gravetye the manor and its gardens are truly special and showing off all its treasures to guests is a real privilege. Unsurprisingly once people start working at Gravetye they don’t seem to leave, Hall Porter Brian Hunter has been here for 30 years and Front of House Manager Emma Greenwood 23 years.
A hotel built on traditional values From the day Gravetye opened as a hotel in 1958, everyone working at the hotel has had one objective in mind, to make every guest feel special and at home. Owners, managers and staff may come and go (but not that often), but the sense of hospitality and attention to detail remains steadfast. Gravetye never has and never will be a ‘trendy’ hotel, it doesn’t have a spa, a golf course or serve faddish food, what it does offer guests though is timeless, sincere and attentive service, which all comes down to its staff.
Necessity – the mother of all invention Our Front of House Manager Emma Greenwood, has worked all her life in the hospitality industry, most of it at Gravetye. During that time Gravetye has adapted itself and embraced modern technology, but some of the things people now take for granted were not always around. “Mr Herbert my first boss was a stickler for immaculate service.” recalls Emma, “When I first started on reception, I also had a number of other roles, many of which took me away from the front desk. In order for us to know when a guest was waiting, Mr Herbert placed a sensor under a rug by the reception desk. When a guest stood on the rug the sensor set off a light in the back office – my cue to come out front and attend to the guest’s requirements.” Nowadays we are more hi-tech, but at Gravetye we still firmly believe that there is no substitute for a smiling face, a passion for hospitality and a dedication to making guests feel special.
“ Guests often comment that 24 hours at Gravetye seem to last longer than a day. The hotel and its grounds are so relaxing, there is real time and then there is Gravetye time.” Emma Greenwood, Front of House Manager
Signature Cocktails Our new cocktails have Gravetye’s name and character all over them, they draw on the manor’s history and the garden’s seasons. The very names of these imaginative drinks conjure up all that is special and particular to Gravetye: Summer, Orchard, Afternoon Tea, Flower Garden, Kitchen Garden, Smoke House and Winter. Chris has ensured that these cocktails span a wide range of tastes and personalities, such as the sweet floral Orchard, the earthy Kitchen Garden and the spicy Winter.
SEASONALITY IN A GLASS “I have enjoyed creating cocktails and a drinks list that truly reflect the magic of Gravetye.” Chris Menning, Head Bartender
It’s not just our kitchen that is influenced by our gardens – our bar is too. Head Bartender Chris Menning has worked closely with Head Gardener Tom to create our new range of cocktails that takes traditional favourites and transforms them through the use of the latest mixology techniques. These include, infusion, fat washing and barrel ageing, Chris’ approach to such new methods is truly Gravetye – he only embraces them if they add flavour and
not just because they are fashionable. The new signature cocktail list echoes George Blogg’s culinary style and puts home-grown seasonal ingredients at the heart of each drink. Drinks’ suppliers are chosen with care and attention, local wherever possible such as our gin and vodka suppliers. Artisan, sustainable producers are also chosen in preference to larger brands.
Gravetye’s 60th anniversary cocktail To celebrate our 60th anniversary Chris Menning has created a celebratory cocktail. Chris has used botanicals as its theme, “ When I was asked to create this special cocktail, I obviously wanted to represent what makes Gravetye such a unique place – and to me it is the gardens.”
Your Gravetye local Atmosphere, that vital ingredient to any bar, and Chris Menning is aware that many hotel bars lack it. He says, “ I want the bar at Gravetye to be somewhere special, a place where guests, people eating with us or just visiting the bar can relax and enjoy their drink. Getting the balance between a cosy retreat and a bar with character takes experience. I encourage all my staff to act as hosts, to interact, to strike up conversations, but also to sense when people just want a moment to themselves.”
“I only employ people with a passion for hospitality, not someone just looking for a job.”
25ml Greensand Gin 10ml Sacred Amber Vermouth 10ml Chase Elderflower 25ml Lemon juice 12.5ml Sugar syrup or spoon of sugar (make sure it dissolves) Egg white or Ms Betters Bitters Miraculous Foamer (yes that is the name!) for a vegan option
Method Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and give a dry shake (shake without ice) to activate the proteins in the egg white or components in the foamer. Then shake once again with ice and finally double strain into a small coupette glass.
Rooms with a view
“It’s all change, but no change.” Elizabeth Hosking, owner
Our gardens, bottled Our bath products are as green and natural as you could hope for. After much deliberation we opted for Noble Isle as our supplier as not only does the range smell delicious, Noble Isle also shares Gravetye’s ethos on ‘crueltyfree, chemical-free’ wherever possible. Which fragrance we choose, and we use a wide variety, depends on where it is going to be placed. However, one scent that is ever present is the Willow Song room spray, described as “romantic, floaty green florals and mellow woods”. We feel this perfectly sums up Gravetye, in fact such a perfect fit that Noble Isle created the room spray especially for us – so whatever time of day or year, your room can be filled with the aroma of our gardens.
17 rooms and suites, all individual in their decoration, but sharing one thing in common, a view over Gravetye’s magnificent grounds. The outside’s influence on our interiors is no more apparent than in our rooms and suites. Owner Elizabeth Hosking and Kevin Davies from Designers Guild, both responsible for renovating our suites, knew instinctively that the fabrics and colours they chose needed to be a reflection of our gardens. So it is no surprise that the fabric and wallpaper they picked came from Designers Guild’s Tulip range. Gravetye is after all renowned for its impressive display of these Spring flowers.
The use of textured fabrics, delicate wallpapers and pockets of colour, were selected to bring about a calming and relaxing atmosphere, Elizabeth comments: “ My hope was to renovate the suites, but not lose their distinct ‘Gravetye quality’. I was determined that everything we refurbished remained comfortable and above all natural.” 41
â€œI wanted the new restaurant to take you visually into the garden with a colour scheme that merged with the outside, so that the restaurant isnâ€™t so much just a destination as your journey through the garden.â€? Elizabeth Hosking, owner of Gravetye Manor
GRAVETYE MANOR Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, Sussex RH19 4LJ Tel: 01342 810 567 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.gravetyemanor.co.uk
The story of Gravetye Manor in 2018 our 60th year