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Garden Seeks Information About French Founder

Heritage attraction, Levens Hall and Gardens is using the platform of its World Topiary Day celebrations to issue an appeal for more information about its founder, Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, from gardening and genealogy enthusiasts.

The heritage home and gardens, located in the Southern Lake District near Kendal, is hoping to discover more about the man who unwittingly became the inspiration for the global topiary celebration, when he laid the foundations of the world’s oldest topiary garden in 1694, on behalf of the then owner, Colonel Grahme.

Levens Hall and Gardens is hoping that the participation of over 50 French gardens in World Topiary Day this year, will enable it to discover more about Monsieur Beaumont, about whom some details are rather vague.

It is thought Beaumont was a pupil of Andre le Notre, the designer of the gardens at the Palace of Versailles and the subject of the movie, ‘A Little Chaos’, in 2014, starring Alan Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kate Winslet. As the Versailles gardens, and several other French gardens participating in World Topiary Day, were designed by Le Notre, there is a chance that someone in France has more details about Beaumont.

Levens Hall and Gardens is aware that he was a gardener to King James II and had a hand in designing the gardens at Hampton Court, but has no details about his work before that, or of his birthplace or early life in France. It hopes that a French garden historian or enthusiast may be able to cast light on this part of Beaumont’s story.

The Cumbrian attraction knows that the Frenchman lived at Levens Hall and Gardens for many years, in a house overlooking the garden which is now home to head gardener, Chris Crowder. Beyond that, however, there are few details. Most of what is known relates to orders he placed for trees and plants, instructions he gave to the men who helped shape the garden, and his working methods.

As well as looking to the French links for information, Levens Hall and Gardens is hoping there may be more details about Beaumont forthcoming via the genealogy route. It is appealing for anyone called Beaumont to check their family tree and let it know if their former head gardener, Guillaume, is a part of it. It is thought he was born in 1650 and that he died in 1727.

“We know relatively little about Monsieur Beaumont and that is such a great shame, given his place in history and his creation of what is now a Guinness-World-Record-holding garden, by virtue of being the oldest topiary garden in the world,” says Levens Hall and Gardens’ owner, Richard Bagot.

“It would be fabulous to fill in some of the gaps and our World Topiary Day event may enable us to do that, if we can elicit any information from across the Channel or from families who have a keen interest in their ancestors. Let’s hope something new emerges and we can learn a little more about this inspiring 17th century garden designer.”

Anyone with any information about Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, should email houseopening@levenshall.co.uk More information about World Topiary Day can be found at levenshall.co.uk. Levens Hall and Gardens, including the topiary garden, is open Sunday to Thursday, from early April to early October each year.

World Topiary Day 2022 celebrations started yesterday (May 12), a significant day in Levens Hall and Gardens' history. Further activities are planned at the hall on May 15. The French gardens, plus topiary gardens in the USA, Madeira, Belgium, Australia and Spain, are celebrating over the weekend of May 14 and 15. The search for details about Monsieur Beaumont will continue throughout the year.

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This story was published on: 20/05/2022

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