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On Friday 11 June, Capel Manor College had the honour of a royal visit by Her Majesty the Queen. The Queen was invited to see the college working and to officially open the latest development project to the College’s 30 acres of visitor gardens, the ‘Old Manor House Garden’.

Governors, staff, students, sponsors and supporters of the College, were joined by the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir David Brewer, CMG JP and College Patron, the Duke of Devonshire, for this prestigious occasion, which saw the Queen take a tour of the College that included viewing displays by students as well as enjoying a whistle stop tour of the 30 acres of gardens.

The Old Manor House Garden has been designed as a signature garden to tell the story of Capel Manor during the 800 years prior to becoming home to Greater London’s only landbased college.  Several themed gardens are to be incorporated into the design including The Queens’ Garden which was the part that Her Majesty was, invited to open on 11 June.  The final completed project in 2012 will see the recreation of the 16th Century Manor House demolished in the 1800’s complimenting the existing visitor experience of the gardens, that surround the present 17th Century Georgian Manor House and Victorian stables, and which make up a working estate where students gain ‘hands-on’ experience in all aspects of the landbased studies subjects offered. 

Her Majesty was treated to demonstrations that included speed climbing and countryside skills by the School of Arboriculture (Tree Surgery) and Countryside.  She also viewed floral displays including ‘Space Oddity’, a floral display by Level 3 Floral Design student Helen Gale that won a Silver medal in the Floral Arrangements awards at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  She was also presented with a bouquet made by the Floristry students from flowers grown in Capel Manor’s own gardens. 

Students and staff from the School of Animal Care and Saddlery presented the Queen with a specially made bridle by the saddlery students, using their leathercraft skills, and Animal Care representatives introduced Her to some of the College’s resident exotic and large animals, including two heavy horses with Her Majesty recognising that the younger of the two was a thoroughbred Clydesdale, and the older horse to be a Clydesdale/Shire cross.

During Her visit the Queen was guided through key areas of Capel Manor’s gardens, including the Walled garden and the Victorian garden in the historic parts of the estate, then on to model gardens that included RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2007 Silver Gilt medal winner, ‘Growing Together in Faith’ garden, and John Woods ‘Family Friendly’ garden, which is the evolution of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2010 Gold medal winning ‘Upwardly Mobile’ garden, transferred to its permanent home at Capel Manor and which demonstrates the changed nature of the garden from when it was originally designed for a young professional couple now that their needs have changed, due to having a family. 

Before opening the Queens’ Garden, The Queen was shown a garden dedicated to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and opened by The Queen Mother in 2001, where she was presented with a rose ‘Fantin Latour’, one of The Queen Mother’s favourites. College Governor and Chair of the Old Manor House Garden Project, Lady Salisbury, then led the Queen around the Old Manor House Garden, introducing the main sponsorship team and explained the concept of the garden before a plaque was unveiled.  

This was a very special day for all members of the College and a chance in a lifetime to meet the Queen.  Staff and students had the opportunity to demonstrate their exquisite skills to a much revered audience, within specialism’s that closely match some of the Queen’s own personal interests.  Those that met Her were impressed with Her plant knowledge and Her use of Latin plant names.  Head of College, Madeline Hall said “What impressed me most was The Queen’s deep interest in the work of the students, the breadth of Her knowledge and Her obvious delight with students who loved what they were learning.”

Chief Executive of Capel Manor, Steve Dowbiggin OBE said “It was an honour to have Her Majesty to visit us.  I really enjoyed the day and will treasure the memory for the rest of my life.”

Notes to editors
• There are a range of images available from the day, see here .  Some full size images are available to download, others are available on request, contact Louisa Pepper, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator on 08456 122122 ext 253 or by email
• Student quotes also available on request; contact Louisa Pepper, details as above.
• For further details about the Old Manor House Garden visit
• Capel Manor College is a specialist land-based college offering full and part-time courses leading to national qualifications which support progression to employment or further study.  Subjects cover horticulture, groundsmanship, garden design, floristry, balloon artistry, small animals, saddlery, arboriculture, countryside management and the environment.
• For information on courses at Capel Manor visit email or call 08456 122122.

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