This 20th-century Edwardian villa was built by John Nettleford, Birmingham’s advocate for social housing, and its seven-acre garden was inspired by designer Gertrude Jekyll.
Winterbourne villa was built for the Nettlefold family in 1903. John Nettleford was a wealthy city councillor who was very involved in charity movements in poorer areas of Birmingham, particularly in the improvement of public housing for working classes.
The house was designed by Joseph Lancaster Ball in the Arts and Crafts style, and Nettleford’s wife, Margaret, also contributed to the design of the garden, based on Gertrude Jekyll’s sketches and drawings. There are plants there from all over the world, and in 1944, the house and gardens were left to the University of Birmingham so that students and members of the public could enjoy this slice of green space in the city.
Children will enjoy hands-on activities in the garden that are run throughout the year, and older visitors can join with RHS courses to hone their gardening skills. On grey and wet days, there’s still lots to visit indoors, such as several 19th century printing presses and an art gallery, as well as the community reading room and gift shop.