In light of National School Grounds Week, which runs from 10th to 14th June 2020, we have put together some fascinating facts about our amazing grounds and their history. Thanks to Sally Chaplin for the information:

  • Sir Joseph Paxton 1803-1865, who was the Head Gardener at Chatsworth and who also designed the Crystal Palace and many parks around England, designed the grounds at Vinehall in the 1850s for the original owner, Tylden-Smith.
  • Looking south, the house was built so that everyone could enjoy the magnificent view. The park had clumps of beech, copper beech, oak and lime, dotted with tall stand alone pine trees, to create colour and architectural shapes.
  • The haha wall running below the front lawn gave the impression that the cows, horses and sheep were part of the park landscape without the barrier of a fence.
  • Where the Pre-Prep now stands there was a thick Scots pine wood, planted to protect the house from the prevailing westerly winds.
  • Where the Theatre, Art block and Sports Hall are now, there was another thick Scots pine wood to protect the house from cold northerly winds.
  • The Melon Garden was aptly named because the area taken up by the De Beer block and the Millennium building had huge greenhouses and cold frames for growing melons, pineapples, peaches and grapes etc.  There was also a large underwater tank which filled from the main building roof and was used for watering.
  • There was an extensive kitchen garden close to the Stable yard.
  • The shrubbery (between the main playing field and the front drive) was developed by Lady Ashton who lived at Vinehall from 1902-1938.  Unusually for this era, she did most of the planting and maintenance of this area herself.
  • There are over 70 species of native English tree. Adrian Bidwell, who was the Chaplin’s groundsman, identified every tree in the grounds and found that Vinehall was missing only six species.  So he planted them!  All English native trees can be found in the grounds!
  • In 1987 the hurricane blew over 120 full grown trees – utter  devastation! One of the parents was a Colonel in the Gurkhas and sent some Gurkhas to help. Within a fortnight, and with the help of all the children, the worst of the devastation had been cleared.