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Lunchtime Talk | Coton Manor: The Nation’s Favourite Garden

This talk will be both in person at the Garden Museum and Live Streamed.

In 2020, The National Gardens Scheme awarded Coton Manor ‘The Nation’s Favourite Garden’.

Join Dr Ann Benson, author of ‘A History of Coton Manor and its Garden’, and Susie Pasley-Tyler as they explore Coton’s history and how it came to be awarded such an accolade. Susie will talk about what she aims to achieve in her gardening, and particularly in respect of her colour and texture combinations.

The garden has been mostly closed to the public for the past year but it has been filmed by Ann and Susie in April. This film gives a lively view of Coton’s bluebell wood, orchards and spring planting.


  • Dr Ann Benson

    Dr Ann Benson

    Dr Ann Benson FSA FRHistS is a writer and lecturer on Garden and Architectural History specializing in the Tudor and Stuart periods within the United Kingdom. This is her second career: she was formerly a science educationist at the universities of Oxford, Bristol and the Open University, and a consultant for the Cabinet Office. She was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2015 and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2019.
    Ann has published three research-based history books and several peer-reviewed articles on garden and architectural history. Her research on the Welsh homes of the Dukes of Beaufort was published in 2017 (Troy House: a Tudor estate across time) and was endorsed by Professor Maurice Howard and Dr Paula Henderson, who stated that it ‘was a model for scholars of garden history’.
    Ann’s current research is on the designed landscape history of the medieval and Tudor colleges of the University of Cambridge, and for which she was awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship. Subsequently, she was made a Beaufort Visiting Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge. She conducts her research alongside lecturing for the Arts Society, leading tours, and private commissions for recreating historic gardens. Ann is a keen gardener having created a garden from a 1.6 acre field: she enjoys topiarising fruit trees and evergreens, but is happiest simply sitting in her orchard or arboretum listening to the birdsong.

  • Susie Pasley-Tyler

    Susie Pasley-Tyler

    Susie and her husband Ian are the third generation of his family to live at Coton Manor. His grandparents bought the house in the 1920s when his English grandfather returned to this country with his American wife and family looking for somewhere to buy in Pytchley hunting country in Northamptonshire. They added substantially to the house and created the garden.

    Susie has no gardening qualifications, but after thirty years of gardening at Coton Manor says that she has learnt mainly through trial and error and a passion for gardening. She has had the advantage of learning from numerous excellent lecturers who have spoken on different aspects of gardening at the Garden School at Coton Manor and has undertaken many lectures herself. Over the years Susie has developed her own theories about how to capitalise on the different aspects which the garden enjoys, while always being conscious of the challenge to keep it looking interesting through the six months of opening to the public.