Colesbourne Estate

History of Colesbourne Gardens

The Colesbourne estate lies in the beautiful setting…

…of the Churn valley, halfway between Cirencester and Cheltenham, in the heart of the Cotswolds. The estate was purchased in 1789 by John Elwes, son of the celebrated miser John Elwes, purporting to be one of the models for the character of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Over the next few years the original estate of 1600 acres was added to making a total of 6000 acres. The original house, situated near the church, comprised a very elegant Queen Anne front built onto an older manor house in 1703 by the Sheppard family, clothiers of Minchinhampton whose other estate was Gatcombe, now the home of the Princess Royal. In 1850 J.H. Elwes decided that the old house was too small for a family of twelve children, demolished it, and built a grand Victorian mansion on a new site nearby.

Waterfall at Colesbourne Gardens

This house was requisitioned during the last war by the Gloucester Aircraft Company, where they worked on the design of Britain’s first jet aircraft, the Gloster Meteor. It then lay half empty and devoid of furniture until inherited by the present Henry Elwes in 1956. With no prospect of re-furnishing the huge house Henry pulled it down in 1958 and built a smaller one on the same site, incorporating one room from the old mansion.

The lake was created in 1922 in a deep wooded valley near the house to install one of the first private hydroelectric dams in the country. The wonderful blue colour is believed to be caused by microscopic particles of colloidal clay in the water which reflect blue light.

The estate now comprises 2500 acres including two farms, 900 acres of forestry and a number of properties in the village.

Visit Colesbourne Gardens
Colesbourne Gardens Lake
Beautiful display with crocuses and cyclamen. Very helpful intro from the plant salesman and head gardener. All growers should visit!
Visitor 2018