Arch gate from the Royal Monarch Collection, from pounds 347, Cannock Gates, Martindale, Hawks Green, Cannock, Staffordshire WS11 2XT, 01543 462500.Reuse content
Just as the eyes are the window to the soul, the gate is the window to the garden. A tatty gate makes the whole ensemble look grotty; a sad and rickety skeleton hanging from one hinge, with struts missing and a latch that doesn't work would detract even from Chatsworth-like splendour (also, the postman will resent having to wrestle with it on a daily basis). Anyone who can't be bothered to keep wood painted or cast iron rust- free should get rid of the whole thing and take their chances with roaming dogs coming in to poo in their garden. Estate agents fixing For Sale signs are the natural enemies of gates, and have been known to leave apparently perfectly sturdy structures teetering across the pavement. For most home owners, neat, unobtrusive and black/white or maybe dark green, fits the bill. A five-bar structure that would keep in a rampaging herd of cattle looks ridiculously out of place guarding a suburban semi, although if it is at the entrance to a country home, set at the end of an imposing gravel sweep, go right ahead. Ostentatious affairs with intercoms and remote control access activated from inside the house are best left to rock stars and the like. Enormous pounds 1.5 million edifices with strangely writhing metal flower-like things are strictly the province of the Queen Mother in Hyde Park.