Highgrove House is the family residence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, situated southwest of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England. Built in the late 18th century, Highgrove and its estate were owned by various families until it was purchased in 1980 by the Duchy of Cornwall from Maurice Macmillan. The Prince of Wales remodelled the Georgian house with neo-classical additions in 1987. The duchy manages the estate and the nearby Duchy Home Farm. The house is noted for its extensive gardens which receive more than 30,000 visitors a year. The house and gardens are run according to The Prince of Wales's environmental principles, and have been the subject of several books and television programmes. The Prince of Wales frequently hosts various charitable events at the house.
Highgrove House is located in Doughton, near Tetbury in the county of Gloucestershire in South West England. Gatcombe Park, the country residence of The Prince of Wales's sister, Anne, Princess Royal, is six miles away between the villages of Minchinhampton and Avening. In addition to Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, The Prince of Wales's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, bought nearby Nether Lypiatt Manor shortly after the duchy purchased Highgrove, although he sold it in 2006.
As the country residence of the heir to the throne, Highgrove House is well protected by security. The house is one of several designated sites proscribed under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 that are protected by law from criminal trespass, a high stone wall surrounds the estate, and the duchy and the chief constable of Gloucestershire supported the moving of two public footpaths that ran close to the house for security reasons in 1983. Several people have been arrested in the vicinity of Highgrove since The Prince of Wales's occupation, including two French journalists and a photographer from The Sun. A 1.5 nautical mile aerial exclusion zone for civilian aircraft and microlights was imposed over Highgrove in 1991.
The Crawley-Boevey Baronetcy (originally Barrow Baronetcy), termed "of Highgrove in the County of Gloucester", was created on 22 January 1784. The family had inherited Flaxley Abbey in 1727, which was their seat until 1960. Highgrove House was built in 1796 to 1798 by John Paul Paul, and believed to have been designed by architect Anthony Keck. The estate itself came to the family through the marriage in 1771 of Josiah Paul Tippetts later Paul (his mother's family name, which he adopted under the terms of the will of his uncle, her brother) with Mary Clark, whose father Robert was the local squire. It belonged to Paul's descendants until 1860. In 1850 his granddaughter Mary Elizabeth Paul died after her gown caught fire during a soiree held for her brother in the ballroom. The house was sold again in 1864 to a barrister, William Yatman. During his time at Highgrove Yatman was described as one of the "chief preservers of foxes" in an 1872 discussion on the Duke of Beaufort's hounds. Yatman rebuilt the medieval spire of Tetbury church in honour of his son, and paid for the rehanging of the church bells in 1891. Yatman left Highgrove following a fire in 1893 which destroyed much of the interiors of the house. The house was rebuilt at a cost of £6,000 by Arthur Mitchell, whose son, Lt Col. Francis Mitchell, Commander of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, lived at nearby Doughton Manor. The Mitchells sold Highgrove after World War II to Lt Col. Gwyn Morgan.
The estate had been bought by the Macmillan family in 1956 for £89,000 and was put up for sale by the Conservative politician and businessman Maurice Macmillan, the son of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, for £730,000 in 1980. Macmillan sold Highgrove so he could spend more time at Birch Grove, his father's Sussex home. At the time of its sale Highgrove was described as a "distinguished Georgian house standing in superb parkland in the Duke of Beaufort's hunt" and possessing 347 acres, with nine bedrooms and six bathrooms.
In August 1980 the Highgrove estate was purchased by the Duchy of Cornwall for a figure believed to be between £800,000 and £1,000,000 with funds raised for its purchase by the sale of three properties from the duchy's holdings, including part of the village of Daglingworth. The Duke of Cornwall, Charles, Prince of Wales, was subsequently appointed a tenant for life of Highgrove by the duchy. Essential repairs were carried out to the house upon its purchase, and the interior was stripped out with rooms painted white, in preparation for their redecoration. The swimming pool at Highgrove was given to The Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales as a wedding present from the British Army.
The Prince of Wales had previously occupied Chevening in Kent, a house that had been left to him by The 7th Earl Stanhope in 1967. The Prince of Wales found the journey from Chevening to Buckingham Palace inconvenient as a result of traffic congestion in South London, and it was also far away from Wales and the Duchy of Cornwall. The estate was also run by a board of trustees, appointed by the government which was seen as a disadvantage to any future changes The Prince of Wales wished to make. As £1 million of renovations had been made to Chevening before The Prince of Wales's occupancy, the purchase of Highgrove was criticised by Labour MP Reg Race, who said that it was "...bloody outrageous on a day that the Government are cutting social security benefits for millions of people". A spokesperson for the duchy said, "It is coincidental that this estate has a house on it which is suitable for the Prince of Wales. The Royal Family are rather short of residences and the prince only has a set of rooms at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle that he can use...when you are 31 you want a place of your own".
The Prince of Wales had looked at a number of properties in different counties before the duchy purchased Highgrove. The Prince of Wales rejected houses at Stoke Climsland in Cornwall and Orchardleigh in Somerset. The Prince of Wales was attracted to Gloucestershire as it was equidistant between London and Cornwall and he had known the locality around Badminton since his childhood, often hunting with the Duke of Beaufort's Hunt.
The duchy's local holdings were expanded after the purchase of Highgrove, with the addition of Broadfield Farm, a 420-acre farm on the opposite side of Tetbury and other holdings to a total of 1,112 acres by 1993.
In 1981 model maker Rosalind Hudson made a scale model of Highgrove as a wedding present for The Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales. Hudson later altered the model as Highgrove was altered.
Highgrove was initially occupied at weekends by The Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, after their 1981 marriage, and their two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, spent much of their childhoods at the house.
Two former members of Highgrove's staff, butler Paul Burrell and housekeeper Wendy Berry, have chronicled their time at the house. Burrell's book A Royal Duty was published in 2003 and covers his time at Highgrove from The Prince of Wales's purchase of the house until Burrell's departure with Diana in 1995. Berry's 1995 book, A Housekeeper's Diary, detailed her time at Highgrove from 1984 to 1993 and it was the subject of a worldwide publishing ban from the High Court.
Highgrove House was built between 1796 and 1798; it was believed to have been designed by architect Anthony Keck. The house is a rectangular detached three-storey building made from ashlar blocks with a stone and slate roof. The exterior of the house features neo-classical decorations. In its 1985 listing for the house, English Heritage described its design as "Principal block, rectangular of five bays by three and of 3 storeys. Pilasters through the upper floors, cornice and parapet. The garden front (south-west) of 5 bays with a central canted bay of 2 storeys. Mid C19. 12-pane sashes. Sashes on south-east set in arched recesses." The house has four reception rooms, nine main bedrooms, with a nursery wing and staff quarters.
In 1893 a fire caused severe damage to the house, and it was rebuilt to its former appearance in 1894 by the Bristol architect John Hart. The fire gutted the interior and damaged the west façade, where a window collapsed onto the terrace, bringing down the wall above. A porch was added to the south-east front in 1894. An office wing to the north west of the house was demolished in 1966.
At the behest of The Prince of Wales, the artist Felix Kelly created an artist's impression of a remodeled Highgrove with neo-classical additions. Kelly had previously painted a vision of Henbury Hall in Henbury, Cheshire based on Andrea Palladio's Villa Rotonda. Kelly's artwork had formed the basis for the construction of Henbury Hall, and a similar painting of Highgrove subsequently formed the basis for a remodelling of the house in December 1987, undertaken by architect Peter Falconer. The remodeling saw the exterior embellished with a new balustrade, pediment, and classical pilasters. A new single-storey staff annexe was also added. The additions were praised by the Georgian Group.
Other buildings built by The Prince of Wales at Highgrove include beehive pavilions and a beef-yard designed by Willie Bertram, built in traditional Cotswold stone. Four semi-detached cottages dubbed 'the council houses' by The Prince of Wales were also renovated.
Highgrove House was given Grade II listed status in March 1985. In addition to the main house, the Coach House to the north west, and Lodge and Gate Piers to the east, were also given Grade II listed status.
After the marriage of The Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1981 rooms at Highgrove were decorated by Dudley Poplak who regarded the commission as the "most important assignment I have ever had." Poplak's obituary in The Times would later described his decorations for Highgrove as "...a youthful variant of the chintzy country-house look that was seen everywhere that year..." with a pallet of clean fresh colours - plenty of lime green and aquamarine - he created a gentle relaxed mood with no flights of fancy other than the odd experiment with interesting textures". Poplak also decorated The Prince and Princess of Wales's apartments at Kensington Palace. Following Diana's departure from Highgrove, Poplak's designs were replaced with those of Robert Kime at the behest of Camilla. In 2003 Kime decorated rooms at The Prince of Wales's London residence, Clarence House, following the death of the Queen Mother.
The Prince of Wales's environmental beliefs have been reflected in changes to Highgrove. Solar panels have been installed on the farm and the house is heated by a wood chip boiler, in addition, waste from the house is filtered through a natural sewage system, and the use of aerosols was banned in the house in the 1980s. The lights at Highgrove were turned off for Earth Hour in 2008.
The Prince of Wales has created a wild garden, a formal garden and a walled kitchen garden at Highgrove. He has also planted a large number of trees in the grounds, and holds the NCCPG national beech collection. Individual features in the gardens include the Carpet Garden, Southern Hemisphere Garden, Walled Garden, the Autumn Walk, Sundial Garden, and a Woodland Garden featuring two classical temples made from green oak and a stumpery. The Prince of Wales has described his efforts as representing "...one very small attempt to heal the appalling short-sighted damage done to the soil, the landscape and our own souls" and has written that "Some may not like it, others may scoff that it is not in the 'real world' or it is merely an expensive indulgence. Whatever the case, my enduring hope is that those who visit the garden may find something to inspire, excite, fascinate or soothe them".
In 1980 the Prince of Wales was especially drawn to the 200-year-old Highgrove Cedar of Lebanon to the west of the house. After the diseased tree had to be felled in 2007 for safety reasons, a new oak pavilion with church-like spire was constructed over the base of the tree. The organic design by Mark Hoare has a rustic cruck frame on Cotswold staddle stones.
The Head Gardener is Debs Goodenough, who in July 2008 replaced David Howard. Charles was initially assisted in his creation of Highgrove's gardens by Miriam Rothschild. He was further assisted by Lady Salisbury, who had restored the gardens of Hatfield House, and Rosemary Verey.
The Highgrove Estate consists of parkland fringed by woods surrounding Highgrove House, a number of farm buildings and around 900 acres (364ha) of land farmed by the Duchy of Cornwall—the Home Farm. The beef herd based at Highgrove includes pedigree Aberdeen-Angus females and yearlings, Angus bulls and Angus cross Friesian cows. Sharing the permanent pasture with the beef herd is the flock of Masham and Mule sheep. The estate backs onto the grounds of Westonbirt Arboretum.
In 1985, organic farming was introduced on three blocks of land as part of a move to what has been called biologically sustainable farming linked to conservation. The step to full organic status on the whole estate was completed in 1996.
Pre-booked tours of the gardens are available to individuals and groups, between April and mid-October. Over 30,000 people visit the gardens annually.
The gardens were the source of inspiration for the British composer Patrick Hawes when he was asked to write a piece of music for The Prince of Wales's 60th birthday in 2008. The resultant piece entitled Goddess of the Woods was first performed on the Prince's birthday in the Floral Hall of the Royal Opera House. Three further movements ensued to create the "Highgrove Suite" each depicting different areas of the gardens at Highgrove. The suite was premiered at Highgrove on 8 June 2010 with the royal harpist Claire Jones and the Philharmonia orchestra.
The Sundial Garden was the first garden at Highgrove to be created by The Prince of Wales and had formerly been known as the South Garden. It is named for the stone sundial at its centre, sculpted by Walter Crang, a wedding present to The Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales from the Duke of Beaufort and outside staff and gardeners. The garden faces south and its layout has remained largely unchanged since its creation. The Sundial Garden was originally planted with roses, and was briefly planted as a 'black-and-white garden'. The garden is presently planted with herbaceous plants in pinks, blues, and purples, and surrounded by a large yew hedge planted in the Winter of 1982.
A section of the garden contains busts of people admired by The Prince of Wales, including Debo Devonshire, composer John Tavener, naturalist Dame Miriam Rothschild, poet Kathleen Raine, activist Vandana Shiva, and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. Other people honoured by busts in the garden include the former museum director and art historian who helped design the Highgrove gardens Sir Roy Strong, and Léon Krier, who created Poundbury, a village built to The Prince of Wales's architectural principals in Dorset.
Busts of the former owner of Highgrove, Maurice Macmillan (sculpted by Angela Conner), the explorer and confidant of The Prince of Wales, Sir Laurens van der Post (sculptured by Frances Baruch), and pilot and psychiatrist Alan McGlashan are situated in Highgrove's Cottage Garden, in recesses in a yew hedge. A path of stone cobbles leaves the Cottage Garden, before surrounding a stone obelisk inscribed with 'York, Weymouth and Bath', given to The Prince of Wales for his 60th birthday by stone-masonry colleges.
In 1992, The Prince of Wales opened the Highgrove retail shops which sells products for home and gardens. The shops are located in Tetbury and in London where the products are available at Fortnum & Mason. A shop in Bath closed down in 2014. All profits from the sale of the products are paid to The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation. In 2014, the shops began selling products online.
Books by Charles, Prince of Wales on Highgrove and its gardens:
Memoirs of Highgrove: