Ridleys Cheer


Welcome to Ridleys Cheer!

Your enthusiasm for Ridleys Cheer has prompted me to write more about one of my favorite English gardens. Located in Wiltshire, the garden has been created by garden designer Antony Young and his wife, Sue, since the early 1980s. The couple initially planned a short stay, but were able to purchase additional land and so made the happy decision to improve their home and stay put. With time, they’ve doubled the size of the house and expanded the garden to include many new spaces, including a stunning wildflower meadow.


A first peek from just inside the gate shows the rose ‘Cecile Brunner’ in full bloom.


The dramatic stairway garden includes the (almost hidden) pale yellow noisette climber, ‘Alister Stellar Gray’, a repeat flowering rose with strong fragrance.

Now comprising 14 acres, Ridleys Cheer is an informal garden with sloping lawns, stone walls, and many interesting plant collections. Chief among these are its roses, including 125+ species and hybrids seldom enjoyed, and many magnolias, acers, daphnes, and other plant groups. On my first tour of the garden (more than 10 years ago), Mr. Young greeted visitors with a list of hundreds of plants that could be found in bloom that very day.

When I visit the garden of a designer, I expect a well-planned and executed layout. Mr. Young meets and exceeds that expectation. It was a surprise, however, to discover he is also an expert plantsman who excels at creating niche habitats, providing conditions that allow him to expand the plant palette, as well as show plants to their best advantage.


The reverse view highlights a standard Wisteria venusta with twisted stem, plus sweeping lawn and garden beds.


Everyone fell in love with this Clematis montana ‘Broughton Star’ on the garden’s front wall.  Look closely at the photo above, and you can spy it just left of the wisteria.

The origin of the property’s name is not what you would expect. The Bishops Latimer and Ridley were led to their martyrdom in 1555 in Oxfordshire and before being burnt to death Latimer’s last words to Ridley were, “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and pay the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

Hmm…I’m not sure how that worked out in the long run, but I can say anyone would be cheered by this enchanting namesake.

The beauty of Ridleys Cheer and the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Young lived large in my heart long after my initial visit and so I was particularly excited to add Ridleys Cheer to the itinerary of the West Country Gardens tour, which was carried out in June 2016. As you can see from the photos here, it was another wonderful day in the garden with Mr. Young, just as I hoped.


Entrance to the arboretum, a wonderland of trees, shrubs, and woodland perennials.


And a quick look at the wildflower meadow which is at its best in late summer and early autumn.

In addition to opening for the NGS and by appointment, Mr. and Mrs. Young also offer plant sales, and bed & breakfast. Their address is Mountain Bower, Chippenham SN14 7AJ. They can be reached at Tel: (01225) 891204 and by Email: sueyoung@ridleyscheer.co.uk.


Gracious hosts, Sue and Antony Young.


One last look before boarding the coach. The pink climber is ‘Aloha.’

Don’t worry, I haven’t shown you everything; there are still many surprises to discover on your own!  And don’t miss the compost pile, it is the best I’ve ever seen.

When you make the trip to Wiltshire, I also strongly recommend a visit to Iford Manor, Harold Peto’s personal Italianate garden near Bath. If time allows, consider another nearby garden too, The Priory, the personal garden of French designer Mme. Antia Pereire. Fans of the classic landscape garden will be glad to hear Stourhead is not too far distant.


This planting of Guem (perhaps ‘Flames of Passion’?) was one of my favorites.  Can anyone confirm or offer another cultivar name?



24 thoughts on “Ridleys Cheer

  1. Pauline

    What a lovely garden, no wonder you wanted to go back! We used to have Clematis Broughton Star, it was magnificent, but then I cut it back and it didn’t like it and promptly died. Seeing the one in your post has made me think I ought to buy another and try again, somewhere where it would have a bit more room to spread!

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Rickii–I’ve seen the plaque in Oxford that memorializes the martyrs. The details are quite gruesome. Wikipedia has a lengthy entry under “Nicholas Ridley.”

      On another topic, my comments will no longer post on your blog, so sorry about that. Yours is not the only one…not sure what’s going on or how to fix it.

  2. Julie

    What a really beautiful garden Marion, every aspect looks both enticing and charming. Amongst other areas we’ve been house hunting in The Cotswolds and had not heard of Ridleys Cheer before. Bishop Latimer sounds a strong character!

  3. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Christina–I’m a bit sad I’m not traveling to England this year, but I’m already planning a trip for late June 2018. Would love to get back to Italy sometime soon too.


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