Gardens

Gardens that can be visited in Britain – on their own or as part of a house, estate, stately home, or castle.

The ghosts of Christ Church Greyfriars

Haunted London churches, Christchurch Greyfriars

Christ Church Greyfriars is one of those places you stumble across in London without meaning to.  That’s exactly what I did a few years ago, anyway, drifting in search of somewhere to eat a sandwich after a tedious business meeting.  Close to the Stock Exchange, I found myself in a peaceful garden planted inside the […]

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The vanished world of Witley Court

Witley Court from the south

The wind and rain blow arrogantly through the empty shell of Witley Court. There are puddles in the earth-floored entrance hall, where the Prince of Wales had been among many rich and powerful Victorian house guests. The hand-woven Persian silk carpet and exquisite statuary have long gone; there is no trace of the brass-railed balcony

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Queen Victoria’s Osborne House

Osborne House, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's home on the Isle of Wight

Royal Osborne House is unlike most palaces and stately homes you will ever visit. There is no lengthy history, no convoluted ownership; Osborne House was the creation of Queen Victoria and her beloved husband the Prince Consort, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  They designed it as their personal seaside retreat and family home on the

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Village open gardens

Open gardens, local events, Great Britain

The British like to see themselves as keen gardeners. Indeed, some consider gardening to be a national pastime and would be mildly surprised to discover that people in other countries do it too. Of course, as an island race, we often prefer well-ordered borders; for some, it is a perennial fixation. According to the Horticultural

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Barrington Court: bring on the empty mansion

Barrington Court, Tudor house, National Trust, visit, Somerset

From the moment we stepped into its kitchen garden, everything about Barrington Court made me want to linger. But don’t visit to savour the great moments that took place at this beguiling Somerset estate, because, so far as I know, none did. Nor should you go to take a peek at the sumptuous interiors and

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Ightham Mote, medieval, Tudor and American

Ightham Mote, Kent

Tucked neatly away in the Weald of Kent is a little dream medieval moated manor house called Ightham Mote. It is closer to the hamlet of Ivy Hatch than to the village of Ightham.  Before we go any further, let’s make it clear that Ightham is pronounced ‘item’.  Of course it is.  It is derived

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Balliol College

Front Quad, Balliol College, Oxford

Peeking past the porter’s lodge is looking through a window into another world; a world of privilege, beauty, tradition, history and at least a thousand stories.  Here is a bit about Balliol College, one of more than thirty academic communities that make up the University of Oxford. Across the quad from the porter’s lodge, cascades

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Baddesley Clinton – medieval manor, murder, mayhem and mellowness

Baddesley Clinton, moated manor house, Warwickshire, National Trust

The house at Baddesley Clinton is a neat example of medieval-Victorian style.  Fortunately, successive owners were never what you might call filthy rich.  Had they been, doubtless another Jacobean or Georgian pile would have been constructed (really, don’t we have quite enough of those already?) and a delightful moated manor house would have been lost,

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The castle at Newark-on-Trent

Newark Castle, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

So far, England has only had one King John, and he was a bad ‘un.  However many times some historian suggests that this much-maligned monarch has been misrepresented, misunderstood, or was at least no worse than any other medieval king, another historian shouts out that John was as bad as they got. In fact, by

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Wandering around Rufford Old Hall

Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire, National Trust

I found Rufford Old Hall rather like nouvelle cuisine; it looked interesting, but a little over-hyped.  It was good, but there should have been so much more to it and at the end I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied.  I imagine the estate agent’s blurb something along the lines of: “Well-presented one-bedroom detached house in

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R&R at Uppark

Uppark, National Trust, house, West Sussex

Nudging along the lush borders of Hampshire and West Sussex, not far from the charming town of Petersfield, is Uppark.  Pronounced ‘Up Park’ (a corresponding ‘Down Park’ lies a few miles to the north), Uppark’s south-facing Regency rear looks remarkably like a doll’s house; which is appropriate, because there is a real 18th century doll’s

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Blooms and a mystery at Exbury Gardens

Rhododendrons, azaleas, south-east, England, Gardens

The wealthy banker Lionel de Rothschild bought the Exbury Estate, in Hampshire, in 1919.  In 1922, work began on creating what is now a 200 acre garden, internationally famous for its rhododendrons, azaleas, rare trees and shrubs.  Exbury Gardens are open to the public, nestle on the eastern edge of the Beaulieu River in the

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