Category Archives: Public Gardens

Montacute House National Trust, Yeovil, Somerset

Montacute house and village have often featured as locations for films. It was used as one of the locations for the BBC’s adaption of the novel Wolf Hall, in 2014. The fictional location for the Wallace and Gromit film ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, Tottington Hall, was based on Montacute House.

The following stills are from the video.

Montacute house

Montacute House is a building with two fronts. In 1787 the west side, originally the back, was rebuilt to become the new approach.
Montacute house

When the house was built in 1598, the east side (above) was the front. The lawn and flower borders would have originally been a courtyard with a gate house.

Montacute house

A notable feature of the house is the Long Gallery, spanning the entire top floor of the building. It is hung with 16th and 17th century old master portraits, in partnership with London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Camera: Sony RX100 V.

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A la Ronde a sixteen sided house in Devon

A la Ronde, near Exmouth in Devon, is owned by the National Trust. It was built in 1796 for two spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter. Jane was the daughter of a rich merchant. Following the death of her father, Jane decided to set up home in Devon together with her cousin Mary. They purchased a plot of land near Exmouth and had A la Ronde built. We visited in May 2018.

The following stills are from the video.

A la Ronde, near Exmouth in Devon

They lived quiet lives, occupied with handicrafts such as needlework and creating pictures with sea shells. Jane died in 1811 leaving the property to Mary. The terms of Mary’s will specified that the property could be inherited only by an “unmarried kinswoman”. This condition held firm until 1886 when the house was transferred to the Reverend Oswald Reichel, a brother of one of the former occupants.

A la Ronde, near Exmouth in Devon
Reichel was responsible for major changes to the house. These included the construction of upstairs bedrooms with dormer windows, the fitting of first-floor windows, the replacement of the original thatch with roof tiles and the addition of an external catwalk.

A la Ronde, near Exmouth in Devon
Jane and Mary were regular attendants at a Chapel in Exmouth, but as the two ladies got older they found the journey to worship increasingly difficult. Therefore they had ‘Point in View’ chapel built on their own estate. Surrounding the chapel was a small school for six girls and almshouses for four maiden ladies of at least 50 years of age.

Camera: Sony RX100 V.

Cricket St Thomas gardens in May

This classic country house hotel is set in splendid parkland, with colourful gardens, lakes, and a unique woodland area. During our visit the rhododendrons and wisteria where magnificent. Filmed on 15 May 2018 at Cricket St Thomas near Chard, Somerset, UK.

The following stills are from the video.

Cricket St Thomas gardens in May Cricket St Thomas gardens in May Cricket St Thomas gardens in May

The Pillow Fight is a bronze statue by the local sculpture, John Robinson. The sculptures are said to have been inspired by his own grandchildren.

Camera: Sony RX100 V.

Killerton House, National Trust property in Devon

Killerton is an 18th-century house near Exeter in Devon. In 1944 it was given to the National Trust by British politician Sir Richard Acland.

Sir Richard was was one of the founding members of the British Common Wealth Party. He was an advocate of public land ownership and he gave his Killerton and Holnicote estates to the National Trust out of principle, and also to ensure that the estates remained safe and unspoiled for all time.

The following stills are from the video.

Killerton House, National Trust, Devon

At the time this was the largest single acquisition in the Trusts history. With a total of 17,000 acres, the estates were estimated to be worth £250,000. That’s the equivelent of £4,000,000 in todays money. Sir Richard, who was then 36, said of his future “My income will depend solely on what I earn as an M.P. and a writer. I shall be a working man and nothing else.”

Killerton House, National Trust, Devon

The summerhouse was renamed ‘the bear’s hut’ because in the 1860’s it was used to house a black bear called Tom, which had been brought to Killerton by the 12th Baronet’s brother, Gilbert, on his return from Canada.

Killerton House, National Trust, Devon

Although the Killerton Estate came to the Trust in 1944, the house didn’t open to the public until 1978. In 1944 the house was cleared of furniture to make way for two evacuated schools. Post-war the house was used firstly as a hotel for the Worker’s Travel Association, who’s aim was to provide affordable holidays for working people and their families. Later it became a hall of residence for St Luke’s College of Education.

When the Trust opened the house to the public in 1978 there was little of the original furniture left.
The ground floor of the house has been re-furnished as it would have been in the early part of the 20th century, when the Acland family were still in residence.

There were no pictures to show what the bedrooms looked like. So when Killerton was offered a costume exhibition, it was decided to use the upstairs of the house for the displays. Since then they have always had a themed fashion exhibition on display.

Camera: Sony RX100 V.

Tyntesfield National Trust house and gardens

Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic Revival house near Bristol. The mansion was built in the 1830s. It was later bought by English businessman William Gibbs, whose huge fortune came from importing guano (bird droppings) used as fertilizer. In the 1860s Gibbs had the house expanded and remodelled. The architectural style selected for the rebuilding was a loose Gothic, combining many forms and reinventions, of the medieval style. The choice of Gothic was influenced by William Gibb’s Anglo-Catholic beliefs as a follower of the Oxford Movement. This movement advocated the revival of the medieval Gothic style, and “a return to the faith and the social structures of the Middle Ages”. We visited in May 2018.

The following stills are from the video.

Tyntesfield garden

In 2002 the Tyntesfield estate came up for auction following the death of its owner and the substantial death duties that became payable. Concerned with the demolition and desecration of various historic country houses in recent years, the National Trust launched a “Save Tyntesfield” campaign. It collected £8 million in just 100 days, with £3 million from the public plus two substantial anonymous donations of £1 million and £4 million. The Trust also received £17 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The National Lottery earmarked a further £25 million for the major conservation work needed.

Tyntesfield walled garden

The National Trust purchased the house, the kitchen garden, and the park. Starting out with a staff of 30 volunteers in 2002, recently the total of employed and volunteer staff exceeded 600, this is more than the number engaged by any other National Trust property.

Tyntesfield National Trust

The initial conservation work focused around weatherproofing the house. The repair of the roof, including the restoration of the original bold red and black tiled geometric pattern. The entire property was rewired. Much of the original lead piping was replaced and a fireproofing scheme implemented. These initial works cost more than £10 million, much of which was raised through donations, via the “Save Tyntesfield” campaign, and the sale of lottery tickets to visitors.

At first the Trust had been reluctant to allow visitors to the house, while work was underway, especially taking into account the costs of Health and Safety requirements, and the delays these could cause to the essential preservation work. But the need for cash dictated the answer, and the Trust learnt that, through giving the public close access to the preservation work, they actually gave more additional donations as a result of seeing where their money was going, and how they were making a difference.

Camera: Sony RX100 V.

Ascott National Trust gardens

Ascott, Wing, Buckinghamshire is a half-timbered house originating from 1606, transformed by the Rothschilds in the late 19th century. The extensive gardens, are an attractive mix of the formal and natural with specimen trees, shrubs and beautiful herbaceous borders. We visited in August 2017.

The following stills are from the video.

Ascott National Trust gardens Ascott National Trust gardens Ascott National Trust gardens Ascott National Trust gardens

Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire

The Stowe National Trust property in Buckinghamshire features gardening on the grandest scale. Picture-perfect views, winding paths, lakeside walks and temples create a timeless landscape, reflecting the changing seasons. Full of hidden meaning, the gardens were created as an earthly paradise and still cast their spell today. We visited in August 2017.

The following stills are from the video.

Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire

Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire – the gardens in August

We visited this National Trust property in August 2017. The Tudor-style house has a courtyard and gardens. This video features the large walled garden with its fortified tower built circa 1347. The walled garden is divided into separate areas featuring bedding plants, old-fashioned roses, shrubs, an area for ornamental fruit and vegetables and a maze without hedges.

The following stills are from the video.

Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire gateway
Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire sweetpeas
Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire thistleGreys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire apples

How to use stacked tubs for a dazzling display

Here is an idea that I came across in a French town square. I plan to try in my own garden next year. These impressive towers of petunias and geraniums are planted in a series of tubs stacked on top of one another. Once the plants grow bushy they drape down to hide the tub structure.

Impressive towers of petunias and geraniums seen in France.

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WEEE Man at the Eden Project

One of the exhibits in the outside gardens of the Eden Project is a sculpture called WEEE Man. It is a robotic style monster made from everyday objects that we discard. Look carefully at the picture below and you will see washing machines, vacuum cleaners, televisions, computers and monitors embedded into his body. He is made up of 3.3 tonnes of waste material, representing the electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) an average UK citizen will throw away in a lifetime.

The sculpture was installed in 2005 and was recently given a makeover by his creator, contemporary artist Paul Bonomini, who added mobile phones and mp3 players to the body.

The good new is that recent UK Government legislation, making producers responsible for appliances at the end of their lives, has seen over 850,000 tonnes of WEEE collected for refurbishment and recycling.