For many, it is the—the dream to travel abroad and to walk the very grounds in which were walked upon by great literary artists long ago—their words replaying in our minds and lives today. The dream to breath in the scent of the famously fragrant roses, lovingly kept and carefully maintained . . .
. . . to take tea as was traditionally planned and created, to touch upon the stones that were laid so many years ago and to gaze up to the thatch roof lines of centuries gone by.
The heart of England lies within the very threads of its culture—the language of customs, of beauty, of traditions, of arts. Indeed, the dream does not lie in sights alone, but in scents, tastes, sounds, and feelings of the heart itself—a secret that whispers about, and if we listen, we might just catch on.
And just when most life is asleep for the duration of this winter season, we might see a whole new angle to the respected art of one of the most integral parts of England: English gardens. And in truth, the lines and forms of such spectacular gardens might be most appreciated in their simplicity, draped in alabaster frost.
. . . and so, today we ask you to join us as we set along on foot, imagining a walk in and amongst some of the greatest gardens in the world there ever were . . .
Regally rated with five golden stars, Stourhead is considered to be one of the finest gardens in the world. It lies within the privacy and intimacy of its very own valley and features a breathtaking lake, adorned with classical temples, grottos and rare, exotic trees, and is often referred to as ‘Paradise’.
Henry Hoare II created the garden in the 1740’s, carefully planning the landscape around how visitors might experience the property. As he developed the garden more and more, he chose to add classical features to it, such as the Temple of Flora, the Pantheon, the Temple of Apollo, as well as Gothic ruins, to entrance and surprise guests, and to bewilder and enchant. Thanks to such, he became fondly known as ‘Henry the Magnificent’. It is quite plain to see why.
Today, we may enjoy the garden almost identically as it was first planned. Visitors are welcome to drop in and explore the grounds throughout the year. To enjoy it in its entirety and splendor—from the blossoming of summer to the frosty breeze and cool of winter. You may also visit Stourhead house while there, with its unique Regencylibrary, Chippendale furniture and inspirational paintings.
The gardens were composed just shortly after, and since, have changed and have been added to, with each generation’s habitation of the property. According to many, the variety and accumulation is exactly what has makes the property so charming to visit. Upon visiting, one may feel a little overwhelmed with all there is to take in, from the 300 year old Cascade and the enormous gravity-fed Emperor fountain, (one of the highest gravity-fed fountains in the world) to the large maze, ponds, guard-like yews that line the frosted Board Walk, and Paxton‘s architecturally pleasing Rock Garden.
Indeed, this wonderful destination attracts many not only for the beautiful gardens, but also for the house (a tour can be booked) the farmyard and adventure playground (perfect for little ones), its two restaurants, five gift shops, and much more. Chatsworth is open to visitors throughout the year, (though closed for a garden tour after Christmas until March).
Set only 45 minutes west of London, Cliveden, meaning “valley among cliffs”, is a grand country retreat of 376 acres—the perfect escape from the city. Originally constructed for the Duke of Buckingham back in 1666, the site sits upon a wooded plateau, overlooking the River Thames. Though an amalgamation of famous talents has gone into the design of the incredible gardens, the most recently work has been completely by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe for the Astors, (American owners of the property), in 1959.
Though the property is quite old, due to disasters over the years, the present house and garden we now enjoy were designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1849. Throughout the grounds, you will find architectural edifices including an amphitheater, a grand stone pavilion and an octagon temple, plus the famous “Fountain of Love“—as commissioned by Astor.
Today, the impressive Italianate Cliveden house is one of the world’s finest luxury hotels, welcoming visitors from all over the world to stay. Guests may explore the woodlands, water garden, the magnificent formal garden that surround the house (complete with a lovely fitness trail and children’s play area) and even a well-manicured maze ―truly a lovely place to stay in and to explore.