The Banks family's roots in Kington go back over 200 years, and five generations of them have planted exotic trees and gardened on the Hergest Estate.
Edward Joseph Banks
Edward (b1967) took over the management of the Estate in 2010. He is married to Julia (nee Sutherland b1967) and has two children, Freddie born in 1999 and Lucy born in 2002. In keeping with family tradition he is a banker and a lawyer, and Julia is a teacher. The family is photographed in Rome in 2017
William Lawrence Banks
Lawrence Banks (b1938) and his wife, Elizabeth (b1941) have managed the Gardens since 1988 and live at Ridgebourne. They have two sons, Edward and Richard, four grandchildren and three dogs. Lawrence was a banker and Treasurer of the Royal Horticultural Society and Elizabeth is a noted landscape architect and was RHS President from 2010-2013. In 2017 she was awarded a CBE for services to horticulture. They have continued the tradition of planting newly introduced plants, particularly in the Maple Grove, which they designed and have planted since 1985.
Richard Alford Banks
Dick Banks (1902-1997) was an industrialist and Director of ICI. Dick grew up at Hergest Croft and travellend widely with ICI. He lived in Cheshire until 1953 when he returned to Hergest Croft with his first wife, Jane (b1912- 1972) and their children, Lawrence, Peter and Margaret. He brought back the gardens from the neglect caused by World War II, as the house had been requistioned. He also planted a huge number of trees and shrubs. His interest in maples and birches is shown in the range of these genera, which now form two National Collections. His widow, Rosamund (nee Gould b1922), co-founder of the famous florists Pulbrook & Gould, continues to care for Park Wood.
William Hartland Banks
William Hartland Banks (1867-1930) was a banker, traveller, photographer, gardener and passionate plantsman. He married Dorothy Alford (1866-1937) in 1893 and they had Dick and three daughters. Dorothy too was passionate about plants having read natural science at Cambridge. They built Hergest Croft in 1895 and together they laid out the garden without any professional help although they were much influenced by the writings of William Robinson. Planting continued throughout their lifetime. In 1912 they bought Hergest Estate including Park Wood and Hergest Court. Many of the trees and shrubs are amongst the earliest planting of these species in Britain, including introductions from China by Ernest ("Chinese") Wilson for Veitch Nurseries.
Dorothy Banks (nee Alford) was the daughter of a Christian Socialist clergyman in London and niece of Henry Alford, the Dean of Canterbury. She attended Girton College Cambridge and passed in the first class of Natural Science Tripos, but received no degree as the university did not award them to women until 1947. She met her husband at Cambridge and they married in 1893. She maintained her interest in science after her marriage. She contributed much to the garden, which is recorded in her letters.
Richard William Banks
William’s father, Richard William Banks (1819-1891), married Emily Rosa Hartland (1835-1924) in 1858. They had a daughter and son. He was a banker and a lawyer, and a naturalist, archaeologist and distinguished geologist. R W Banks was the first family member to live at Ridgebourne, having inherited the house from his aunt. He planted some of the earliest exotic trees on the Estate and the huge Douglas firs in Yeld Wood.
R W Banks’ father, Richard Banks (1791-1871), arrived in Kington in 1814, buying a half-share in the successful legal practice of James Davies. Davies was an active entrepreneur and Richard married his niece and heiress Esther Davies.