Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes

The Underground Gardens at Dewstow

Useful Information

Location: Dewstow near Caerwent in the Wye Valley.
Open: In 2008: JUL to mid-JUL Wed-Sun, Hol 10-16.
mid-JUL to AUG daily 10-16.
SEP to mid-OCT Wed-Sun, Hol 10-16.
In 2009: 20-MAR to 18-OCT daiyl 10-16.
Groups after apppointment all year.
Fee: Adults GBP 6, Concessions GBP 5, OAP GBP 5, Children (10-14) GBP 3.50, Children (0-9) free, Family (2+2) GBP 18.
Season Ticket GBP 20.
Classification: SubterraneaGrotto
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes, Caerwent, Monmouthshire, South Wales, NP26 5AH, Tel: +44-1291-430444, Fax: +44-1291-425816. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1893 Henry Roger Keane Oakley became the owner of the Dewstow Estate.
1895 Henry Oakley commissioned James Pulham & Sons to design a unique garden.
2000 gardens rediscovered by the new owner John Harris.
2011 on sale for GBP 1.95 Million.


The underground gardens at Dewstow House are a series of grottoes and tunnels which were designed by the famous London landscaper James Pulham & Sons in the late 19th century. It was one of their most spectacular projects. They were comissioned by Henry Oakley, the estate owner at this time. He had a passion for growing ferns and tropical flowers. But after Oakley died in the 1940s the site began to fall into disrepair. Finally in the 1960s, when nearby the M4 was constructed, tons of soil excavated for the road were dumped on the site. So the gardens were finally lost under thick layers of soil.

In the year 2000 the estate was bought by John Harris. After he, his wife and their three children had moved into Dewstow House, they soon discovered a blocked entrance. John Harris lived nearby all his life was aware that there were some tunnels in the gardens from local lore. He knew about one set of tunnels and one grotto, but had no idea of the actual extent. After they had started clearing, they discovered non tunnel and grotto after the other. So they decided to restore the whole ensemble to its former glory. They did all the excavation work themselves during the winter, with some help from friends. The he employed a head gardener to recreate the gardens using plants and shrubs which may have been used at the time.

The result is an impressive ensemble, including a rock garden, square garden and bog garden above ground. Underground is a fernery with pillars of faked volcanic rock and two palm courts. One court has formal balustrades, the other one a pool.