Upton House and Gardens was donated to the National Trust on the 2nd Lord Bearsted’s death in 1948. The family continued to live here until the 1980s, and therefore staff continued to work on the estate, and some through the transition of the family leaving and the National Trust taking over the running of Upton House and Gardens. We thought we would take some time to look back at the wonderful stories people hold about this, and how the place has changed over the years.
Alan Philpot has been a gardener at Upton since 1971, and his parents also worked at Upton. His father was a gardener for 46 years, his mother worked in the kitchens in the House and his Uncle also was a gardener. Employing the family for all this time shows a huge loyalty that the Bearsteds felt towards their staff and of Alan towards the gardens at Upton.
So, what has changed in how the gardens are run? Alan still has a large emphasis on the Kitchen Garden in his role, as he did when the family still lived here. When the Bearsteds lived here they grew largely what was needed for the House, now the National Trust grow more of a variety to use in the Restaurant, sell in the Shop, but also to show visitors how vegetables grow. Post war vegetables were grown for green grocers in Banbury and Alan’s father used to deliver them, a striking comparison to Alan making trips to the Restaurant to deliver fresh vegetables today!
Alan’s time at Upton over the years was captured in 2008 as part of our oral history project, and it is great to reflect back and appreciate the work in our gardens over the years, that people still enjoy today.