The walled garden was part of the kitchen garden that supported Guy’s Cliffe House. The kitchen garden extended to about 3 acres, with the walled section being about 2/3rds of an acre. The walled garden would have been used particularly for growing fruits and vegetables that needed the protection of the walls, which form a micro-climate for tender plants. Fruit trees were grown against the walls taking advantage of the warming effect of the sun on the bricks.
The earliest reference to the site of the walled garden that we have so far found is from a map dated 1773 when the land is described as being in use as a garden. At this time, the house was owned by Samuel Greatheed, MP for Coventry and a wealthy landowner. We do not know whether the walls were in place at that time but they had certainly been built by the early 1800s. A close look at their construction shows that it is unlikely they were built at the same time and were substantially altered at different times in their history.
Samuel left the estate to his son Bertie and during his ownership substantial development work took place in and around the garden. Between 1806 and 1826, Bertie spent a great deal of time and money on his estate and this included making many changes to the gardens. His diary of 1806 includes a line drawing of the walled garden which provides the first indication of the layout of the paths. It also lists which trees he had planted on espalier posts alongside them.
Bertie Greatheed also had the peach house and vinery built in the 1820s, copying a design used at Barford Hill House a few miles away, and had the garden walls altered so that he could grow more fruit trees against them. He boasted that he had half a mile of walls under cultivation. Another of Bertie’s projects was the ornamental canal that used to run along the outside of the west wall of the garden. The canal is now filled in but it could still be seen as recently as the 1960s.