Doddington Place Gardens

Near Sittingbourne, Kent.

Doddington Place Gardens - History


Doddington Place has been the home of the Oldfield family for more than a century. The many-gabled brick house was designed by the Victorian architect Charles Brown Trollope and built around 1870for Sir John Croft of the port and sherry family.

In 1873 Markham Nesfield (1842-74), son of the better known garden designer William Andrews Nesfield (1793-1881), designed the formal terrace next to the house for Sir John Croft. Nothing remains now of his detailed planting plans.

Today the gardens still evoke the Edwardian spirit of the next owner of Doddington Place, Mrs. Douglas Jeffreys (nee Oldfield) who was responsible for much of the architectural detail and layout of the heart of the garden.

In 1906 the Crofts sold Doddington Place and the estate to General and Mrs. Douglas Jeffreys. The latter was so impressed by the view that she claimed to have made up her mind before setting foot inside the house. The Jeffreys shared the house with Mrs. Jeffreys’ father, Sir Richard Oldfield, who had been a high court judge in India. A few years before the first world war they added the large Edwardian sitting hall on the north side of the house and made extensive improvements to the gardens, including the addition of the rock garden. Later they built the neo-Tudor Lodge at the end of the main drive. On the death of Mrs. Jeffreys in 1954, her nephew John Oldfield inherited. He was born in July 1899 and died in December 1999. His father died in the Boer war on his first birthday, and as a result Doddington Place became effectively his home. His long life was full of variety. A Labour MP in 1929-31 – and the last survivor from that Parliament – and later Vice-Chairman of the London County Council, he became a Conservative in the 1960s and was then a member of the Kent County Council for 25 years.

In 1985 Mr. and Mrs. John Oldfield handed over the running of the garden and estate to Richard Oldfield and his wife, Alexandra. They had three children, Leonora, Christopher and Henry.  Alexandra Oldfield died in 1995. Henry died in 2017.

In 1997 Richard Oldfield married Amicia de Moubray and their son, Edward was born in 1998.

The estate suffered extensive damage in the 1987 hurricane. 60 trees were lost in the garden alone. Today it is hard to discern any trace of the storm.

Those living and gardening here are delighted that thousands come each year to share the enjoyment of these gardens. We are always grateful for comments and suggestions.