Fred and Sybil Spencer - The York Gate Years
As well as amateur dramatics Fred and Sybil shared a love of horse riding and decided to try and find somewhere where they could keep their horses at home. In 1951 they bought York Gate Farmhouse along wih the farmyard and six and a half acres of land. After making some improvements to the house, they moved there in 1952, and started to create the garden we know today. Initially Fred was keen to keep some livestock too, but after a while this proved to be too difficult.
The farmyard and horses were sold in 1957, and after this Fred and Sybil, along with their son Robin, devoted much of their spare time to developing the garden. In doing so they were particularly influenced by Arts and Crafts gardens, which they'd visited, such as Hidcote and Kiftsgate. Fred started on the hard landscaping with help from Robin, laying out the fundamental structure of the garden, while Sybil turned out to be a talented, self taught, plantswoman.
Fred collapsed and died suddenly on December 4th 1963.
After Fred's death Sybil continued to live at York Gate, and she and Robin further developed the garden which Fred had laid out. In 1982 Sybil suffered an additional blow with the loss of her son Robin. She did however, with the aid of a gardener, continue to maintain the garden until her death on December 14th 1994.