Grange Court may sit in the heart of Town, but when it was built in the early 1800s, the luxurious home and its grounds were considered to be in the heart of the countryside. And with two acres of sprawling gardens it is easy to see how a little bit of the country remains behind the gates of this St Peter Port property.
‘The trees hadn’t had much of a haircut for over 10 years. We took out 28 skip loads in 12 weeks and then started work on getting the garden back to where it should be.’ Vacant borders and beds were boosted with 72 tons of seaweed and horse manure and 48 tons of mushroom compost. ‘You have to have a serious interest in gardens to do this.’ Coming from the vast open Scottish countryside he said it had been unthinkable they would ever live in a town house – but Grange Court is no ordinary town house. Like many private properties up the road, it was built at a time when the wealthy shipping merchants were moving away from the stench of the open drains down at the heart of the port. In the early 1800s, the Grange was far enough away out of the Town to be considered in the country. The house was built in 1823, with the formal gardens being fixed over the next 20 years. Many of the trees, some of which stand up to 30 metres tall, date back to that time and are among the oldest in Guernsey. Most established are Yew, Copper Beech and Oak trees and a Palm equalling, if not

‘This is not a town house. It is a country house surrounded by town,’ said Pat Johnson. He and his family moved to Guernsey from Scotland seven years ago and, since then, the keen gardener has been restoring the grounds to their former glory. By his own admission the garden at Grange Court, a little way up the Grange, was overgrown and under-planted.

exceeding, the height of those in Candie Gardens. The upper garden houses a more formal rose garden – where 350 are planted - and the remaining outer wall of an Orangery. During World War II, the house - like many prominent properties in the island - was seized by the occupying forces. But by the end of the Occupation they, like islanders, were starving and the ornamental rose garden was dug out to make way for a



‘If you have a beautiful garden like this in St Peter Port it is important to share it with the community’


Cercis Canadensis - Forest Pansy

Dahlia ‘Grenidor Pastelle’

Salvia Claryssa

Rosa ‘Lady Mitchell’


Digitalis - Foxglove vegetable patch, while the remaining upper garden was turned into a chicken run. ‘The garden has gone through three different stages in a sense’. Between 17,000 and 18,000 daffodil bulbs have been planted throughout the borders, in groups of 10 for maximum impact. ‘I love the Springtime. The lime green leaves of the Chestnut trees, the Acers are absolutely stunning and the Copper Beech leaves are translucent in the sunlight,’ said Pat. It is the lower garden where you get a feel for the size of the garden. At one end stands the original potting shed, next to a greenhouse lined with grape vines and fruit trees, framing an impressive array of Cacti – some of which have taken years to grow. Records show a greenhouse was built soon after the house, and is still in its original form including the gear driven

Datura sanguinea window winders. The Johnsons officially open the gates to their garden once a year with all proceeds going to charity. They have also received requests from cruiseliner operators for garden tours – something they are considering. ‘It is within walking distance of town and could potentially raise money for the good causes in the island,’ said Pat. Occasionally if passers-by have pressed their noses against the gates, Pat will invite them in for a look around – half way through one impromptu tour, the lady turned out to be a former resident of Grange Court. ‘We are really just custodians of this beautiful garden for future generations.’ As well as managing and maintaining his own vast garden, he is heavily involved with promoting gardening within schools

Lathyrus - Sweet pea – he helps run the Beechwood gardening club – and in the wider parish as a member of the small, but hardworking Floral St Peter Port committee. ‘Guernsey is naturally stunning.‘It is wonderful to see how excited visitors are by the town floral displays but we need to raise our game. Guernsey has so much going for it, all we need to do is enhance what we already have,’ he said.

Diary extracts from the original owner show the vines were put in the ground for a hot house on 5 March 1824.


Iresine herbstii ‘Brilliiantissima’

Silene - Campion

Phlox paniculata ‘Eventide’

The last open garden at Grange Court raised £2,800 for Les Bourgs Hospice.

Diascia ‘Salmon Supreme’

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’

Sea thrift ‘Armeria pseudarmeria’



Grange Court, formerly Villa Carey, was built in 1823 for Caroline De Lancey, daughter of John De Lancey and Caroline Carey. She moved in just before her 19th birthday on 1 January 1825. The family bought the land for the house along with neighbouring property Roseneath and Delancey House, across the road. It is thought the garden was originally shared between Villa Carey and Roseneath, now Trust Corporation, with access gates to the adjoining garden at each end.

Caroline’s mother, Caroline Snr lived at Roseneath. When she died in 1862, her daughter, who never married, inherited the house and moved in. She died aged 88. Both houses are attributed to John Wilson, the architect who designed Elizabeth College, St James and Castle Carey. n Clockwise from top: aerial shot of Grange Court; Croquet at Delancey House; Caroline De Lancey; Grange Court c. 1920