Winterbourne House

Birmingham, England

Experience the timeless charm of Winterbourne House, Birmingham's hidden gem, where history whispers through its enchanting gardens and stately halls.

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- Paul Martin

Discover Winterbourne House

In a leafy corner of the bustling cityscape of Birmingham, England, Winterbourne House is a striking yet relatively secret, heritage attraction.

Restored in 2010, this Edwardian arts and crafts style house, set within 7 acres of exquisite botanical gardens, presents a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse oneself in the charm and elegance of early 20th-century life.

From captivating architecture to meticulously manicured gardens, Winterbourne House is a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Marvel at the tapestry of colourful plants, wander through the woodland, duck under the hazelnut tunnel, or cross the 1930s Japanese style bridge – however you wish to enjoy Winterbourne House, we know you won’t forget your visit anytime soon!

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- Paul Martin

Winterbourne House Pioneering History

Winterbourne was commissioned by John Sutton Nettlefold for his wife Margaret Nettlefold and young children, in 1903.

Completed in 1904, it is quite simply, an architectural masterpiece, showcasing the quintessential Edwardian style. The house itself boasts intricate local craftsmanship, with its red brick façade, ornate chimneys, and large, light-maximising windows. As you step through the grand entrance, you'll be transported to an era defined by elegance and sophistication.

Nettlefold was a pioneer of housing reform in Birmingham at a time when there were little to no decent homes in the area. He would later take architectural inspiration from his own home and introduce it into poorer areas of Birmingham.

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The large bay windows of Winterbourne House - Paul Martin

The Last Private Owner of Winterbourne House

In 1917, due to ill health, John moved away and two years later Margaret sold the estate to the Wheelock family, who remained there for 6 years.

The next resident, local businessman John MacDonald Nicolson, was the last private owner of the house and a passionate gardener. He cultivated many new areas of Winterbourne Gardens including the scree garden, Japanese Bridge, and various alpine details.

Upon his death in 1944, Nicolson consigned the property to the University of Birmingham. Resultantly, the botanic garden became a place of research for the Department of Botany and learning for the students.

Today, anyone and everyone is welcome to visit and learn more about the wonders of Winterbourne.

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Exploring Winterbourne Gardens - Paul Martin

Exploring Winterbourne House

Inside the House

Winterbourne now welcomes around 70,000 visitors each year.

Once inside, visitors can wander through the beautifully preserved rooms, each exuding its own character and charm. The house offers a fascinating insight into the lives of its former residents, with rooms recreated to reflect the tastes and trends of the time.

Admire the original features, including stained glass windows, locally crafted plasterwork, decorative fireplaces, and exquisite period furnishings. Stroll through the drawing room and out onto the impressive terrace, with broad, curved steps down, linking the house with its gardens. Or stop to appreciate the full-length portrait of Margaret Nettlefold at the end of the hallway.

A Place of Education

In order to inspire and enlighten its visitors, Winterbourne House has also been filled with interactive displays and exhibits designed for all ages.

It is home to several 19th-Century printing presses which are used for craft and print workshops, demonstrations, and events.

For those looking to perfect their gardening skills, the Winterbourne Centre for Horticulture also sponsors horticultural internships and runs RHS-accredited courses onsite. The University also actively promotes its sustainability initiatives with educational programs on conservation and biodiversity.

Winterbourne House
- Paul Martin

Art and Culture

Winterbourne House is not just a showcase of architectural brilliance but also a hub for art and culture.

The house features an impressive collection of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, providing an enriching experience for art enthusiasts. Temporary exhibitions and displays rotated throughout the year further enhance the cultural offerings, ensuring there's always something new to discover.

A Community Space

The house and gardens of Winterbourne bring students, botanists, and families together in their love of history, wildlife, and British heritage.

Consequently, Winterbourne is a place of community that envelops its visitors in a warm embrace of Birmingham spirit. You’ll often find locals pondering the artwork in the galleries, engrossed in a book at the public reading room, or raiding the gift shop, each of which was fashioned from the estate's former rustic outbuildings.

The house and gardens also provide a picturesque setting for weddings, celebrations, and private events, adding a touch of timeless elegance to any occasion. In the summer children can play games in the garden, embark on the activity trails, or enjoy an outdoor theatre performance, whilst parents watch on from the tea room terrace.

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- Paul Martin

Winterbourne’s Botanic Gardens

“The Garden is singularly well-furnished, and the path below the terrace fringed with a wealth of flowering shrubs and aubrietias…Unhappily however, there is no subject to which the camera so steadily refuses to do justice, and this outcome of Mrs Nettlefold’s taste must therefore go unpictured.”

Country Life Magazine July 1st 1911

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- Paul Martin

Outside, Winterbourne Gardens – lovingly designed by Margaret, but inspired by Gertrude Jekyll – were also created in line with the arts and crafts movement of the time.

In fact, the true allure of Winterbourne House lies in these enchanting botanical gardens. With over 6,000 native and exotic plant species the gardens are alive with colour, scent, and texture.

Some of the more remarkable features include the ‘crinkle-crankle’ walled garden, vibrant herbaceous borders, the sunken rock garden, and lean-to glasshouse bursting with orchids, alpines, and cacti. In 2008, after some restoration, the garden became Grade II listed by English Heritage.

Today, lovingly tended by gardener and RHS Gold Medal Winner Paul Martin, they serve as a rare example of an early 20th-century style suburban villa and garden.

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The immaculate gardens of Winterbourne House - Paul Martin

Our Thoughts…

Clearly, Winterbourne House is a unique heritage attraction transporting visitors to a bygone era of intricate charm and beauty.

Its architecture, rich history, and rainbow gardens make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, art lovers, and nature admirers alike.

Whether exploring the William Morris-wrapped walls, wandering through the grounds, or participating in community activities, a visit to Winterbourne House in Birmingham promises to be a memorable experience.

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- Paul Martin

Winterbourne House Questions


What you need to know

Winterbourne House
University Of Birmingham, 58 Edgbaston Park Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2RT
52.452770, -1.923970
Tips before you visit