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Monty Don's 'horrid' rental farmhouse where rats threatened to attack his son

The Gardeners' World star and his wife Sarah were extremely concerned 

Monty Don smiling
Megan Bull
TV Writer
Updated: 12 December 2023
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After purchasing their Herefordshire home in 1991, Monty Don and his wife Sarah had a mammoth task ahead of them. A historic Tudor property located in Leominster; Longmeadow had no roof, electricity, running water or sanitation when they happened upon it. 

WATCH: The Life Of Monty Don

With an extensive list of renovations to tick off, Monty and Sarah took up residence in a rental farmhouse down the road, but after moving in, the couple were faced with a waking nightmare. 

Recalling the "horrid" experience in The Jewel Garden (2005), Monty writes: "Having spent eight months lodging with Sarah's parents, we rented a farmhouse a mile or so down the road from our new house. This place may have looked charming from the outside, but was damp, cold and rat-infested. 

Monty Don's home, Longmeadow, in Herefordshire© Instagram
Monty Don's home, Longmeadow, in Herefordshire

"In the kitchen only the fridge was a rat-free zone. We would hear them scrabbling in the cutlery drawers in the evening whilst we ate and watch them hopping on the lawn in broad daylight." 

Having recently welcomed their second son, Tom, at the time, Monty and Sarah were extremely concerned for the safety of their baby. 

Monty Don and his wife Sarahw pictured at the Edinburgh International Book Festival© Shutterstock
Monty and his wife Sarah were forced to move into a rental farmhouse while renovating Longmeadow

"For three months, Tom slept with us because we were frightened they would attack him in his cot," penned Monty. "It was a symptom of our apathy that we never thought of asking the landlord to do something about this." 

This period in their life was particularly challenging – The chapter itself is titled 'Rock Bottom'. During their stay at the rat-infested rental, Monty and Sarah were also struggling financially. 

Monty Don and Sarah Don pictured in 2016© Nick Harvey/Shutterstock
The couple were concerned that rats might attack their son in his cot

"When you have no money things you have taken for granted become a major obstacle. One of these was simply getting around," he states. 

MORE: Monty Don's inventive DIY renovation at breathtaking Herefordshire home revealed

READ: Monty Don's most adorable moments with mini-me grandson George

"Our nearest shop was five miles away, the children's village school two miles. There was no public transport. Just getting them to and from school took petrol and wear and tear. We dreaded the roadside hedges being cut because it usually resulted in a puncture that cost a third of our weekly income to repair." 

Monty Don's home, Longmeadow. © Instagram
It would take Monty and Sarah ten year to complete the initial building work

In a 2020 interview with The English Home, Monty revealed that "It took 10 years to finish the initial building work," but it all worked out for the best. Now a forever home for Monty, his wife Sarah and their dogs, the couple's children have since flown the nest, but often return to the beautifully renovated Longmeadow. 

With 10 work rooms and studios, a sitting room and four bedrooms, the house is perfect for entertaining, as well as Monty's stints on Gardeners' World. 

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