Colesbourne Park

'England's Greatest Snowdrop Garden'


Sir Henry Elwes farmed most of the estate during the 1970s and 1980s and served for 32 years on the District and County Councils. In addition he takes a particular interest in forestry on the estate and in the Arboretum planted by great-grandfather, Henry John Elwes, and, with his wife Carolyn, in developing the snowdrop collection, open to visitors for the first time in 1997. He became The Queen's representative, the Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, in 1992, retiring from the position in October 2010. In June 2009 he was appointed KCVO in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Lady Elwes (Carolyn) was encouraged to take an interest in snowdrops by her cousin Mary Biddulph of Rodmarton Manor, who introduced her to Herbert Ransom, gardener to the Mathias family of The Giant Snowdrop Company fame. He, with Richard Nutt, helped to identify the surviving snowdrops from Henry John Elwes' original collection. The collection developed rapidly under her care and she discovered several fine varieties at Colesbourne. These include the very early G. plicatus 'Colossus', G. 'George Elwes', the first yellow cultivar of Galanthus elwesii, appropriately named 'Carolyn Elwes', and of course G. 'Lord Lieutenant'.


With thanks to Andrew Lawson for permission to use his portrait of Sir Henry and Lady Elwes