Elizabeth Gooch MBE, owner of Mitton Manor since 1996, tells us about her inspirations behind Mitton Manor Gardens.
“I spent many happy hours in the garden as a child. A vegetable garden was a necessity for healthy living back then and produce was shared with family and friends. I have vivid memories of the taste of freshly pulled carrots. Following my grandfather in his garden, he would stop, pull one up, rub off the loose soil and pass it to me to eat, along with fresh garden peas and baby broad beans. Later, in the long hot summer of 1976 I remember watering rows and rows of beans, peas and strawberries in the dark in my pyjamas – not because of a hosepipe ban, it was just cooler and better for watering than during the hot sunny days.
Around the vegetables my grandmother had her cutting garden. Every week of the year she was able to fill vases with something from her garden. I adored her winter displays best of all, foraging for interesting twigs in the hedgerows to combine with a garden grown flower or two. The heady scents of the garden filling the house while the rest of the garden lay dormant outside. Gardening is in my blood.
I first saw Mitton Manor in the silence of a winter day, following a snow storm. The air was still and clear, the snow crisp underfoot and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the chocolate box scene. I didn’t get much further than the gabled ceiling and the Minton tiled floor in the hall before I knew that this was not just going to be my family home, but a place to escape the capitalist world of technology and finance and get back to my roots.
We moved in on 5 May 1996. The snow had gone leaving nothing more than a bare landscape, raw potential and three cherry trees in full flower as inspiration. It required four years of clearing the site to arrive at a blank canvas and I was so impatient to start creating. Gardening for me during the clearance years was confined to researching designs in books and visiting well known gardens for inspiration. The garden, as you see it today, was started in the year of the millennium. This is when our journey really began and the millennium garden is where all our visitors enter the main garden too.
As my grandparents shared the fruits of their labours, we too like to share this wonderful place with our many visitors each year.
We hope you enjoy what we are creating as much as we do.”
Elizabeth is an award-winning UK Tech Entrepreneur, Non-Executive/Investing Director, Coach and Mentor to UK Technology Start-ups and Scale-up companies. She is also an Export Champion for the Department of International Trade (DIT).
Elizabeth was Founder & Chief Executive Officer of eg solutions plc from January 1998 – November 2017. Elizabeth was the pioneer of the global Back Office Workforce Optimisation software and services market. She is an active supporter of charities across the world.
Making A Manor
In 1881, Colonel George Jones completed major extensions to a house originally named Whiston Lodge, situated in the hamlet of Mitton. It had been built around 1846, serving as a Hunting Lodge for neighbouring Whiston Hall.
George was a descendant of Richard III, a Plantagenet, and had inherited Whiston Lodge as part of a dowry upon marrying his wife, Alice Northey. Reportedly, he was fond of the Lodge – once it had been extended to incorporate all the trappings to qualify the house as a Manor fit for an occupant of Royal lineage. Upon completion of his instructed works, the Colonel changed the name of the house to Mitton Manor, as well as adding Mitton onto his own surname; to become George Jones Mitton.
Together with his wife, George enjoyed shooting, hunting and fishing here and, for some time, Mitton Manor kept his interest. However, George was an Army man at heart. He served as a Colonel in the Boer Wars (Medal, 3 Clasps) and later became a Major in the 3rd Staffordshire Regiment during WWI. He was celebrated with an OBE (Order of the British Empire).
As they spent much of their time apart, George and Alice eventually went their separate ways. Tragically, Alice was killed in a WWII air raid in Bristol in 1942. She left all her worldly goods to her eldest son – despite her husband being very much alive.
By this time, George was living in his social club in London, where he had invested in a grocers’ and tea merchants. He was declared bankrupt in 1898.