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The Secret Gardens of Sandwich named top in Kent in Sarah Selway's book Digging Up Paradise

By Emily Stott

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich has been named one of the top gardens in Kent in a new book.

Digging up Paradise by Sarah Selway showcases a collection of visits to the best gardens in the county by the former Canterbury Laureate.

It has been published by Cultured Llama and launched last week.

Through journals, poems, photographs and letters, the author describes the gardens themselves, the sensations and memories they stir up and also the history of the land.

Ms Selway first visited the Secret Gardens of Sandwich in 2011 when owner Dom Parker, from Channel 4’s Gogglebox, gave her a guided tour.

The book details the history of the house, the Salutation. The Farrer brothers came from London looking for a country retreat and commissioned Lutyens to design The House of Salutation in 1911.

In those days, the gasworks were very close to the idyllic home which the author explains she found very strange.

In her book, she writes: “When I was looking at old maps of Sandwich, I was annoyed to see how close the gasworks were built to the gardens, it seemed such an intrusion. However, it turned out that the opposite was true, and the gasworks were the very reason the house was built in that particular spot.

“The Farrar brothers were asthmatic, and at that time, it was thought that a combination of sea air and gas fumes was the ideal cure.”

The book goes on to explain that the Secret Gardens offers a secluded sanctuary for visitors, and tells the story of Mr Parker’s favourite season ticket holder who would sit in the same spot and knit.

For more on this story read next week's East Kent Mercury.

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