Sharpham has been a dwelling since the 14th century but the present Palladian Mansion was built in the 1760s.
The gardens have been through many changes over the years and are set in a Lancelot Capability Brown landscape, one of only four in Devon. There are 19th century pleasure gardens around the house and the formal terraced gardens were designed by Percy Cane in the 1960s.
Ruth and Maurice Ash bought the Sharpham Estate in 1962, and Ruth especially put much time and effort into rejuvenating and developing the present grade II* listed landscape lying within formal gardens.
The present walled kitchen garden has the remains of several greenhouses, including three that were sunken and heated by hot water circulated in large pipes that are still visible. The old boiler is still in place below ground nearby. The present greenhouse was built around 1985 and grows grapes, peaches and nectarines.
In the 1960s, a swimming pool was built in part of the walled garden and the old potting shed was turned into the changing rooms. The circular pool outside the walled garden is all that survives from a C19 flower garden.
We do not know when the woodland garden was established, however, the Ash family developed and extended it in the 1960s and 70s. The lower part of it was a Victorian pinetum and there are still several fine specimen trees there. In the last few years, we have removed large areas of overgrown Rhododendron ponticum and cherry laurel and are currently redesigning some of the newly opened up areas.
Two new orchards have been planted since 2000, designed by Ben Pike, Sharpham’s former Gardener. Grand Sultan, Sops in Wine and Doll’s Eye are just some of the lovely quirky and even playful names of the apple varieties that grow here in Sharpham’s two orchards.