Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), created over 400 gardens in the UK, Europe and America and her influence on garden design has been pervasive to this day. She spent most of her life in Surrey, England, latterly at Munstead Wood, Godalming. She ran a garden centre there and bred many new plants. Some of her gardens have been faithfully restored, wholly or partly, and can be visited. One such garden is of course, Hestercombe Garden's Formal Garden, arguably the finest example of her collaboration with Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Godalming Museum has many of her notebooks and copies of all her garden drawings, (compiled and sorted by members of the Surrey Gardens Trust) The original drawings are in the University of California.
Her own books about gardening are widely read in modern editions. Much has been written about her by others. She contributed over 1,000 articles to Country Life, The Garden and other magazines. Gertrude Jekyll was a talented painter, photographer, designer and craftswoman and was much influenced by Arts & Crafts principles.
Her brother, Walter, was a friend of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson - his name may have been borrowed for the title of his famous Jekyll and Hyde story. The family historian, Sir Herbert Jekyll (1846-1932), was Gertrude's younger brother. He was a military engineer and civil servant, a man of great talent over a wide area, ranging from founding the Bach Choir in London and laying telegraph lines in Africa to designing the road network from London and master-minding the British Pavilion, with Sir Edwin Lutyens, at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.
Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was a renowned English architect. His work embraced private houses, government buildings, office blocks, new towns and museums. Selected by the War Graves Commission, he also built and designed memorials, tombstones and graveyards, of which there were many after the slaughter of the First World War (1914-18). He was equally skilled at exteriors and interiors, at large and small commissions. His career was founded on his practice in England, but later, he had a role in the creation of buildings all over the world.
A chance meeting with Gertrude Jekyll in 1889 resulted in a close cooperation between them over many years. She was a strong influence on his early work in the vernacular Surrey style and introduced him to most of his early clients. She helped him to acquire garden design skills which enhanced his architectural creativity. Among his earliest jobs was Munstead Wood, Gertrude Jekyll's own house in Surrey.
Hestercombe Gardens represent the peak of the collaboration with Gertrude Jekyll and his first application of her genius to classical garden design on a grand scale. The whole conception of Hestercombe Gardens with the brilliant handling of varying levels to produce a lucid and an intricate horticultural drama is entirely mature, indeed unsurpassed in Lutyens' garden repertory.
Sir Edwin Lutyens was an excellent draughtsman and a witty cartoonist. He did several cartoons of Gertrude Jekyll, one of which is titled 'Bumps (after his nickname for her) and Lut-Lut'. With her brother, Herbert Jekyll, Lutyens was responsible for the British Pavilion at the Paris Exhibition in 1900.