The Walled Gardens
The three walled gardens - the Peace Garden, the Old Pond Garden and the Sensory Garden lead from the rear terrace and offer a peaceful retreat and a place for quiet contemplation. Originally, the gardens would have been planted with fruit trees, tender vegetables and flowers for cutting. The main kitchen garden was further away, where Canberra Road is now.
The Peace Garden was opened in July 2006 to mark Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women Campaign. The planting was designed by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and is based on cool, soft, reflective colours which create a relaxed and tranquil environment.
Adjoining the Peace Garden is the Old Pond Garden, so called as it used to contain a central pond. This garden was renovated in 2020 with the help of volunteers from the Charlton and Blackheath Amateur Horticultural Society, as well as grants from the Greenwich Neighbourhood Growth Fund and the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. The new planting scheme by local garden designer Jason Carty has the needs of pollinators and wildlife firmly in mind. It also incorporates plants mentioned by the House's former owner, Sir Maryon Wilson, in a gardening article he wrote in 1896.
The Sensory Garden is a secluded courtyard with a cherry tree in the centre, temporarily closed for renovation.
Memorial for African Ancestors
On 28th October 2010, the Greenwich African Caribbean Organisation, led by Mavis Best MBE and Ann-Marie Cousins, dedicated a juneberry tree in our Old Pond Garden to the memory of African ancestors, including enslaved African people, who lived and worked in Greenwich from the 1600s to 1800s. The planting of the juneberry was supported by members of the African and Caribbean communities, Friends of Charlton House, and Ros Howells, Baroness Howells of St Davids OBE.
Each year in August, GACO members gather around this beautifully thriving tree, to pour libations and to pay tribute to community members, present and remembered. Through this tree, we remember the contributions of African peoples to the building of Great Britain.
The Long Border and the Wilderness
Leading off from the eastern side of the Old Pond Garden is the Long Border Garden, filled with colourful herbaceous perennials such as bright blue globe thistles and stripy zebra grasses. The border is in the process of being replanted by the volunteers, continuing the theme of pollinator friendly planting. This summer, it included a riot of annuals.
The Wilderness stretches from the Long Border to the southern boundary of the grounds. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the area contained formal gardens, but by 1765 the serpentine walk had been constructed. The area now has an informal and natural appearance, with winding paths and dense planting of deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs.
The grounds to the rear of Charlton House have some interesting features. These include the Ha Ha, a sunken ditch created in 1847 to divide the formal garden from the landscaped park without interrupting the view. Its purpose was to prevent grazing cattle from straying into the garden.
The Roman Stone was brought back from Italy by a former resident of Charlton House, a member of the Maryon Wilson family, in the early nineteenth century.
The grounds is also made up by the Summer House, Mulberry Tree, Gateway Arch, and Floral Shield.
The Mulberry Tree is said to be as old as the house itself, dating back to 1608 and planted by orders of King James I to cultivate silkworms, making it one of the first planted in the country. Unfortunately, the King mistakenly ordered that black mulberry trees be planted, not realising that silk worms breed on the white mulberry trees. It is a beautiful tree that still produces mulberries every year. It has been underplanted with bluebells, Welsh poppies, and cyclamen.