Home » The Mollie Salisbury Cup: Garden Sanctuary Memoir Competition

The Mollie Salisbury Cup: Garden Sanctuary Memoir Competition

UPDATE: The winner of this year’s Mollie Salisbury Cup is Tallulah Street, with her entry ‘Tomatoes for the Broken-Hearted’. The two runners-up are Suzanne Raine and Sean Pritchard.

See the winning entries here

We are delighted to announce this year’s Mollie Salisbury Cup, an award for garden memoirs sponsored by the Cecil family in memory of their mother, the Marchioness of Salisbury and founding president of the Garden Museum.

The memoir celebrates our personal experience of gardens – big or small, real or imaginary – and its theme changes each year. This year’s theme is ‘Sanctuary’, inspired by our current exhibition, Sanctuary: Artist-Gardeners 1919-1939.

How to enter

Candidates are invited to write up to 1500 words on the theme of ‘Sanctuary’, then pay the £10 registration fee below, and send entries to memoir@gardenmuseum.org.uk. Update: the deadline for entries has now been extended until Monday 25 May. Winners will be notified by 7 July 2020.


First prize: £750, and their winning entry will be published in Hortus.
Two runners-up: £250 each.

All three winning entries will also be published on our website. You can read last year’s winners, on the theme of “The Problem with Gardening”, here. The winning entries from 2018, on the theme ‘My First Garden’, can be read here.


The Mollie Cup is judged by a member of the Cecil family, a Trustee of the Museum and an independent author. This year the judges will be Lady Rose Cecil, the daughter of Lady Salisbury; Lady Egremont; and Alice Vincent, the author of the applauded horticultural memoir Rootbound.

The 6th Marchioness of Salisbury

Mollie Salisbury (1922 – 2016) was a celebrated garden designer whose glorious creation at Hatfield House, the Jacobean Cecil family home in Hertfordshire, has won plaudits from critics and visitors alike. Despite having no conventional training, her careful study of contemporary houses in England and Europe, and of Hatfield’s archives, led to a garden with formal and informal elements.

She also created gardens for The Prince of Wales, Evgeny Lebedev and Peter Brant, as well as rooftops and balconies in London. Lady Salisbury worked tirelessly well into her eighties, and was an early campaigner for organic gardening. Her memoirs, A Gardener’s Life (Frances Lincoln, 2007), tell her remarkable story.

Terms and conditions: the competition is open to individuals aged 18 and over, published or unpublished. To enter, send an original, unpublished piece of memoir writing, written in English, on the subject of ‘Sanctuary’, of up to 1,500 words to memoir@gardenmuseum.org.uk
The competition closes at midnight on Monday 25 May 2020. Entries received after the closing date will not be considered. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges and will be based on literary merit, originality and readability. Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these terms and to have agreed to be bound by them. We cannot provide feedback on individual entries.
The winner will have their writing published by the Garden Museum and a media partner, and will receive a £750 prize. Two runners-up will each receive a prize of £250.
This competition is not open to any employees of the Garden Museum, the promoter or their immediate families, the promoter’s advertising agency and sales-promotion consultancy, or anyone else connected with the creation and administration of the competition. Only one competition entry, fulfilling the eligibility requirements above, will be accepted per person. Once selected, only the winner(s) will be contacted personally by email, using the contact details provided upon entry.
 Entry to the competition and acceptance of the prize constitutes permission to use any entrant’s name, image and any competition-entry photograph, for promotional and/or editorial purposes in any format in print and non-print media without additional consultation. It is assumed that you have the permission of your employer for any time off work that is required to claim the prize. The Garden Museum or the third party are not liable in any way to any winner who cannot attend. Winners will be notified by 7 July 2020.
By entering the competition and in consideration for the Garden Museum publishing your entry, you assign to the Garden Museum the entire worldwide copyright in your entry for all uses in all print and non-print media and formats, including but not limited to all rights to use your entry in any and all electronic and digital formats, and in any future medium hereafter developed for the full period of copyright therein, and all renewals and extensions thereof, any rental and lending rights and retransmission rights and all rights of a like nature wherever subsisting. The Garden Museum’s decision is final in every situation, including any not covered above, and no correspondence will be entered into in respect of the validity of any such decision. The Garden Museum shall be permitted to exclude or disqualify any entrant at any time at its sole discretion. The Garden Museum reserves the right to exclude late, incomplete or multiple registrations, or registrations made by third parties or agents. The Garden Museum does not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt.
The £10 entry fee is non-refundable and non-transferable and is valid for one entrant only. Once entered, entries cannot be returned or withdrawn. Spammers will be disqualified. Prizes must be taken as stated, although the Garden Museum reserves the right to change the prize in the event of unforeseen circumstances. By entering the competition, you agree to the terms of the Privacy Policy. In addition, the Garden Museum may pass your personal information to the promoters of the competition (where it is not the Garden Museum) and their data processors. However, we always demand that any such parties adhere to the same security procedures that we follow ourselves. The Garden Museum reserves the right to (i) cancel and/or withdraw this competition and/or (ii) amend these terms, at any time without notice. To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, in no event will the Garden Museum be liable, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), breach of statutory duty, or otherwise, for any loss, damage or injury arising under or in connection with this competition. These terms are governed by English law, and entrants agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts in relation to all matters arising under or in connection with these terms.
Image: Phyllis Dodd (1899-1995), Summer Doorway with African Lilies, c.1948, Image courtesy of Liss Llewellyn