English Country Gardens

May has been a busy month for me but the highlights have been two visits to different gardens near to home.  The first to Great Chalfield Manor, a 15 century manor house with Art and Craft gardens plus a church, the second to Iford Manor, with a Grade I listed Italianate Garden.  I hope I can create a feeling of the tranquillity I experienced in both.

Great Chalfield Manor is about 5 miles from my house but despite living here for 38 years I have never visited it before.  The tour of the house took 45 minutes but was well worth the time although the day was hot.  I have shared a link below which will explain the history of the house better than I can but some rooms felt as if time has stopped as the furnishings and decor seemed so well preserved.  Much of this is a result of intense renovation but many of the original details have been preserved including four poster beds!  The National Trust own the property but members of the family still live in the house.  Roundheads and Cavaliers fought over the site in the Civil War as it was a strategic vantage point, one of the statues had the head shot off by a badly aimed blunderbuss and some of the battlements remain forming an ideal background now for herbaceous borders.

The gardens are the centrepiece of the property, some left as wild with other areas beautifully planted with paths to wander through.  The church doesn’t belong to the Trust but was well worth visiting for the stained glass window alone. I cannot do the house justice in the short space but hope the photos will help you picture it.

The visit to Iford Manor was very different as the gardens are the focus here, set on a steep hillside. From 1899-1933 Harold Peto, an Edwardian garden designer and architectect, combined his love of nature with formal structure of design to transform the gardens.  The Italianate Garden is the highlight but throughout the garden there are hidden delights, especially for keen gardeners. It’s hard to resist taking a few small cuttings but that is frowned upon!  Part of the original cloisters remain and provide a venue for concerts and opera productions.  We were treated to the rehearsal by the musicians for the forthcoming season as we wandered the paths, I sadly cannot afford a ticket but one of the operas this month is Madame Butterfly. Some Sunday afternoons Iford Arts hold concerts by local amateur musicians, cream teas are also available so one day I plan to go. Music and food in a beautiful setting cannot be missed.

Perhaps I should have tried to do two individual blogs on these beautiful properties but I hope I have given you a small idea of two special English Country Gardens.




8 responses to “English Country Gardens

  1. Oooh, that stained glass is amazing! And the gardens are spectacular. I can’t decide if I prefer wild chaos or order more in a garden. That topiary picture from Iford Manor is awesome! And, looking at the websites, it looks like Chalfield manor just had a plant fair. I bet that’s fun to go browse. 🙂

    • I agree Laurie, the colours were beautiful. The Church was such a peaceful haven. Wild gardens are more my style but the symmetry of the topiary garden was stunning especially as it is in the centre of the Italianate garden. Beautiful scents and colours on a perfect day. Very lucky.

  2. Loved the websites. I envy you being so close to these historical homes. And, countryside is beautiful. Thanks for sharing a bit of England with us.

    • We are so lucky also the National Trust helps to preserve the heritage of coastal and national park areas as well as historic houses and gardens. Iford Manor is a gem that the family share with everyone. I’m not sure how the organisation is funded as I don’t think it is from concert revenues! Glad the websites helped you enjoy more detail.

  3. Beautiful gardens, Jane. Isn’t it strange how we live in a place for years and never get around to visiting places as gorgeous as these gardens? How great to have heard the rehearsal for Madam Butterfly. That was lucky!

    Love the photos, and the stained glass is fabulous. Thanks for a real treat. x

    • Definitely true, we tend to visit places when we get visitors but I have several more houses on my to do list this summer. Avebury Manor is a favourite of mine and I prefer visiting the stone circles at Avebury than going to Stonehenge. Sadly both sites are suffering from effects of visitors so more restrictions are in force. Hopefully it means future generations will understand how monumental the sites are. Hope you are enjoying the bank holiday weekend.

  4. Truly lovely places, and they sound and look so tranquil. Love that stained glass window and how fortunate to be there a during concert rehearsal. Such wonderful settings make all the difference. I haven’t heard of either place before; such a pity I can’t get Dave interested in visiting such places despite the gardens. Still, that doesn’t stop me going. Can recommend Coton Manor too, near Stratford-upon-Avon if you ever have the chance. Enjoy June! 🙂

  5. Thanks Kit. Never heard of Coton House but will look into it. Peter not keen on visiting houses and gardens but luckily a group of friends are so I am lucky. Off to Cornwall next week, Lost Gardens of Heligon on my list so I’ll let you know how I get on. Sunshine at last so fingers crossed for next week.

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