The Lloyd family

Nathaniel and Daisy Lloyd brought up six children at Great Dixter where they all developed a lasting attachment to the house and a deep knowledge of the garden. One of the bathrooms still has the pencil marks on a wall recording their increasing height year by year. Selwyn (1909-35), the eldest child, went into the family business but died at a young age from TB; Oliver (1911-85), whose second Christian name Cromwell spoke of Daisy’s ancestral connections, became a medical doctor and academic; Patrick (1913-56) was a professional soldier and died on active service in the Middle East; Quentin (1916-95) served as the estate manager for Great Dixter for many years; Letitia (1919-74) trained as a nurse; Christopher (1921-2006), the youngest child, was born in the north bedroom of the Lutyens wing and for the rest of his life Dixter was his home.

With the renovations and extension complete by 1912, Great Dixter was a large and comfortable family home. Central heating and electric lighting were installed from the outset and there was a domestic staff of five or more, including a chauffeur, a cook, two housemaids and a nursery maid. Outside staff included nine gardeners. For four years during the First World War, part of the house became a hospital and a total of 380 wounded soldiers passed through the temporary wards created in the great hall and the solar. In the Second War, Dixter housed 10 evacuee boys from September 1939 until it was decided that they should go further west and away from the path of enemy aircraft.

After Nathaniel’s death in 1933, the formidable Daisy was in control until her own demise in 1972. Her contribution to the garden was most evident in the wild flower meadows but her passion for all things plant related was as extensive as it was infectious. She was a determinedly energetic lady, an accomplished cook and brilliant embroiderer, who, having taken to wearing Austrian peasant costume, cut an eccentric figure on the local scene.

Daisy with Christopher on the Front Meadow.