CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

West Ham chairman David Gold opens his Caterham garden, The Chalet, for NGS charity

PUBLISHED: 13:46 20 April 2012 | UPDATED: 23:57 05 April 2016

West Ham chairman opens his Caterham home for the NGS

West Ham chairman opens his Caterham home for the NGS

For a real ‘daffodil delight’, take a stroll around the impressive gardens at The Chalet in Caterham, home to renowned businessman and chairman of West Ham FC David Gold, where you’ll find thick carpets of these glorious harbingers of spring

David Gold's golf course proudly flies hisl team's coloursDavid Gold's golf course proudly flies hisl team's colours

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2012

 

 

***

As chairman of West Ham FC and Gold Group International, which includes the Ann Summers chain and Gold Aviation, David Gold’s entrepreneurial interests are well known – but it may come as something of a surprise to learn that he also has a passion for gardening.

In fact, at his splendid Victorian mansion, The Chalet in Caterham, he and his partner Lesley Manning have been busy restoring the gardens for several years, and now open them to the public every spring through the National Gardens Scheme.

Set in extensive grounds of 55 acres, with far-reaching views across rolling countryside towards the South Downs, the gardens are a spectacular place at this time of year – but it’s taken a great deal of hard work to get there since David first moved into the property in 1995, after two years spent restoring the house, with Lesley arriving in 1997.

“There was no garden to speak of back then,” says David. “The storm of 1987 had decimated the grounds with hundreds of trees being blown down and it took a couple of years just to clear them. It was an awful lot of work.”

Nature’s resilience was to bring a welcome surprise though, as having arrived in the summer there was no sign of what lay hidden under the ground ready to burst forth. “We cleared masses of gorse and bracken that had become overgrown and in spring the daffodils popped up!” says David. “We have a wonderful legacy as it takes generations to get such a naturalised carpet and it gives the house a great beauty.”

David and Lesley have slightly differing ideas regarding the evolution of the gardens – David liking formality of areas and Lesley preferring to see more natural elements included as well. The balance is reached by formality around the house with structural ponds and garden beds, extending out towards a golf course, while there are wildlife ponds in the bottom fields, home to a plethora of newts, frogs, and moorhens, as well as woodland and grassland areas.

Binding together the effect in spring is the sea of tens of thousands of golden and white daffodils across the landscape under a canopy of emerging blossom.

A labour of love
“The property is an all-consuming passion and I have become obsessed in improving the gardens each year,” says David. “I am forever looking at new plans and like to hear the visitors’ comments when we open the gardens. In fact, we are looking to bring in vintage cars to enhance the experience further this year.”

New plants and bulbs are planted each year to increase the beauty of the March scene, including scented purple hyacinths contrasting with the golden daffodils, as well as tulips, primulas and anemones in raised beds by the house. Planting a variety of both foliage and flowering plants to ensure interest through the year is also important.

One of David’s top tips is to take photos of your garden in order to have a critical look and help decide what needs adding to or changing. “It allows us to plant extra bulbs in an organised way and we also want happy flowers that work well,” he adds.

Lesley finds it interesting to have input here and there in a more cottagey style. “I like a bit of nature and I have encouraged David, who is so meticulous and likes even the woods to be neat, to have a little fallen timber, as it’s necessary as habitats, and also to have some wilder areas left with buddleias, thistles and nettles to encourage a myriad of butterflies.

“I have also given David, who is impossible to buy gifts for, shrubs and trees, such as hydrangeas and magnolia grandiflora, to extend the seasonal interest and even owl houses as it is lovely to see the birds you can encourage in.”

Lesley’s attempt to establish some swans on one of the ponds has not been as successful. “We got a pair from a swan sanctuary and named them Philip and Elizabeth, but they swam around for a few days and then flew off!” says Lesley. “We tried again with a second pair and the same thing happened. The sanctuary wasn’t worried though as it meant they must have been healthy!”

Opening the garden for two days through the National Gardens Scheme, to share the peak of the daffodils, is an obvious pleasure for them both.

“I am quite surprised at the enthusiasm people have for their gardens,” says Lesley. “You immediately have something in common no matter what the age.

“We like to chat to anyone who comes along and I enjoy doing the cakes and teas. It’s such a lovely atmosphere; people come with the right attitude. At the end, we’re always exhausted, but it’s such fun.”

***

Businessman David Gold on Caterham life, football and Alan Sugar

10 top business tips from West Ham chairman David Gold

Ann Summers’ Jacqueline Gold shares her top business tips

More from Surrey Life

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We are regularly reminded of the high cost of housing with statistics revealing that only one in three millennials will be able to afford their own home during their lifetime and that most will remain in the category known as Generation Rent

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search