Great Dixter celebrates big step in £8m conservation project

The 500 year-old Great Barn at Great Dixter in East Sussex and three adjoining 19th century brick built Oast Houses have opened to visitors for the first time.

Their restoration is the culmination of the £8 million four-year conservation project at the garden, created by the late Christopher Lloyd.

The Dixter estate has been re-united with its early 20th century model farm buildings, now converted into a teaching space, an outdoor study area, student accommodation and offices.

The conservation project has been funded by a £3.79 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), substantial contributions from the Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Wolfson Foundation, Foyle Foundation, Royal Oak Foundation, Tanner Trust and the EU Rural Development Programme and also substantial  gifts from individual donors and the Friends of Great Dixter.

Fergus Garrett, head gardener and chief executive of the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, said: "The restoration of the Great Barn and Dixter Farm buildings has significantly enlarged Great Dixter for everyone to enjoy.

"When visitors come down the front path it will be to the Lloyd family’s country estate as well as a much loved house and garden.

"The hugely generous funding, achieved through much hard work, has meant that we have been able to stop the front of Dixter House falling down and keep everyone who lives, works and visits it warm and dry throughout the year."

HLF chief executive Carole Souter said: "Great Dixter is quintessentially English and an inspiration to gardeners, whatever their level of expertise. 

"The estate is revitalised, with the garden looking as beautiful as ever, particularly as the summer draws to a close.  The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to have funded the renovation of the Great Barn and Oast House which gives the site a much greater coherence and in so doing enables many more people to visit and learn about Christopher Lloyd’s enduring passion for our horticultural heritage."

Garrett added: "Christopher was one of the most inspirational figures of his generation. A brilliant gardener, a great friend to all us who shared his passion for Dixter, plants and life.  Even though Dixter has now developed and moved forward it has not changed. He would have
been proud."

A curatorial project will continue to catalogue and conserve Great Dixter’s furniture, textiles and ceramics.

Material from the archive covering the development of the house and garden will be on show in an old charcoal store next to The Great Barn, and a film tour of the house showing areas not normally open to the public will be on display in The White Barn, a Grade 11 listed weatherboard building close to the entrance to the garden. Another short film will show footage of Christopher Lloyd.

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