The Great House
It was once the home of the Whiting family, mill owners and wool merchants. One of the family sons was Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, who was put to death on Glastonbury Tor following dissolution of the Abbey by Henry VIII in 1539.It is a remarkable coincidence that the King's men arrested Robert Whiting in what was said to be his 'favourite kitchen' at the Abbey property at Sharpham Park, which is now the home of Roger Saul and the Sharpham Park organic food brand.
Subsequently the Hardwick Brothers became the mill owners and lived in the Great House while overseeing their textile mill. They held regular cock and dog fights in the court in front of the house. Sometime later the house was divided into two dwellings. It was in the 1960's that the Great House became part of first the Showering's and then Allied Domecq's headquarters.
Jardine's Park and Vegetable GardensThe Gardens were first created by Ernest Jardine as a recreational space for factory workers of Kilver Court in the 1800s and were known as Jardine's Park and Vegetable Gardens. We know that in 1907 he employed 128 people and produced machinery for his lace making interests. He provided recreation rooms, bathrooms and kitchens for the workers. Outside he rebuilt the old mill pond and it became an ornamental lake with wildfowl and even a small rowing boat for the use of his employees.
Following the success of the Sharpham Park vegetable garden, Jardine's concept of a model fruit and vegetable garden has recently been reinstated. This has been established as a sustainable bio-dynamic system both for education and to supply the onsite shop and eateries with fresh, organic produce.
The Showering EraThe Showering family have made cider in Shepton Mallet for over 200 years, and set up their first brewery at the former Ship Inn which sits at the front of the current Kilver Court site. Part of the original brewery in Kilver Street still remains and is used for cider making. The Great Grandfather of the present Showering generation showed extraordinary business acumen by acquiring the land in 1843 while the buildings were in flames and his own employees were working a bucket and chain to help put the fire out.
Francis Showering joined the family business in 1929 and in 1947 produced the experimental drink 'Babycham'. The success prompted massive expansion and Showering's acquired the Kilver Court buildings that sat alongside the River Sheppey as a production site. Jardine's Park and mill, which were lying empty, were acquired during further expansion in the late 1950's.
Francis Showering oversaw the landscaping of the gardens during 1960 and 1961 based on the Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning design by Mr Whiteleg, who came himself to oversee the project. The gardens were further enhanced by the acquisition of the viaduct following the closure of the railway and the fitting out of the Directors Suite.