gardens, historic houses and b&b's

Mar 20th, 2007, 03:03 PM
  #1  
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gardens, historic houses and b&b's

My husband and I (I'm 54, he's 73) hope to flee to England in May to seek out genealogically important locales and visit gardens and historic houses. Our plan is to rent a car and wing it. We'd rather not make reservations and lock ourselves into an intinerary. We are on a budget but we are looking for value not cheapness. We will have 2-3 weeks for this little jaunt.

What is your advice? What are your very favorite gardens and houses in England, Scotland and Wales? Your favorite b&b's? Is there a great b&b book or web site, or a great houses and gardens book or web site?

Thank you all for your suggestions!

Ellen
ebcutler is offline  
Mar 20th, 2007, 03:18 PM
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There are quite literally hundreds of gardens and historic gardens in England, Scotland and Wales. And that isn't counting the thousands of private garden open through the National Gardens Scheme.

The "best" gardens stretch from Kent in the SE to Cornwall in the SW to very northern Scotland and everywhere in between.

So - #1 -- how long is the trip? #2 -- where is your ancester hunting going to be centered?

Also there are two bank holidays in May which, depending on your dates, make winging accomodations a bit difficult. The Chelsea Flower Show is also in May - are you planning on that and any time in London or not?
janisj is online now  
Mar 20th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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hi, ellen,

i was just try ing to find a reasonable hotel for one night in Gloucester, and found the www.enjoyengland.com web-site - you can enter romantic accommodation, B & B, etc.etc. and see what turns up - print out a list aand keep it with you for reference when you get to the UK.

there are of course guides like "Karen Brown" and some others, but beware - some are reliant on the entries paying to be in them - we only realised that when we were approached! the enjoy england one is accommodation that has been checked and graded, so you have some independence there at least.

As for gardens, as well as the usual National Trust ones, see if you can get hold of the "yellow book" aka the handbook of the National garden Scheme - see the website at www.gardenfinder.org. This lists all the gardens in England and Wales including private ones open from time to time, sometimes only one day, during the year. lots have plant sales [possibly less interesting for you] and refreshments - cream teas, cakes, which may interest you more!

depending on the time of year, we may all have our favourites eg here in Cornwall, there are loads of Spring gardens, but not such a great choice the rest of the year; in Kent/sussex there are wonderful summer gardens, and Hidcote [glos] is a favourite almost any time of year.

given that we've all just had some rather unseasonable snow [who said anything about global warming?]I'd certainly leave the trip til April!

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Mar 20th, 2007, 03:58 PM
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Good points Janis. The trip will be 2-3 weeks, depending on what I can get in airfares. Probably May 9 to May 25 or 31. My innumerable ancestors are spread throughout England, with a few in Wales, so we thought we'd visit ancestral sites that happened to be close to garden/historic house destinations. I didn't know about the bank holidays or the Chelsea Flower show. We love London. I have close friends in Knebworth, HERTS., and I will likely include a couple of days with them which are likely to include a visit to London. From our point of view, we can have our London time at either end of the trip.

Honestly? This is a mosey. We're going to try to target about 6 appealing locales, enjoy cream teas, pub lunches, and walks.

Ellen
ebcutler is offline  
Mar 20th, 2007, 04:07 PM
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Thank you, Ann, I'm headed straight to that website.

I think we'd like to have about 6 great and unique garden experiences. That's a helpful point that UK gardens are very seasonal. We have enough time -- and we'll be there in May -- so that we can dover a fair distance. And we use the term "garden" loosely -- a wonderful park or a village with gorgeous walks certainly qualifies.

Cheers, Ellen
ebcutler is offline  
Mar 20th, 2007, 06:13 PM
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W/ just 2 or 3 weeks and want a few days in/near London I probably limit myself to 2 other regions (3 max)

#1 for gardens would be Kent/East Sussex. You could see Sissinghurst, Hever, Penshurst Place, Chartwell, Scotney Castle garden and lots of others. And RHS Wisley enroute to . . .

The Cotswolds where you can visit Hidcote Manor, Kiftsgate and lots of just very pretty flower filled villages.

5-7 days in Kent, 4 or 5 days in the Cotswolds, maybe a couple of days in Suffolk leaves you a few days for Herts/London - and all of London's wonderful gardens.
janisj is online now  
Mar 20th, 2007, 06:15 PM
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Alistair Sawday has a book listing B&B's with notable gardens: www.sawdays.co.uk/titles/gbb/index.html

We did a tour of Cornwall. It's a great locale for gardens. Our favorite was Trebah, south of Falmouth. It's amazing what they can grow in such a northern latitude. Vive the Bermuda Current.

Also on that trip we visited Stourhead (also Longleat House the same day) and Hidcote Gardens. Oh, and Kew Gardens just outside London. These are all famous, not to say seminal, gardens.

In May we are making a trip to Scotland and northern England. One place I'm looking forward to is Inverewe Garden, very far north indeed.

Since you are interested in houses and gardens, you might benefit from the Great British Heritage Pass. For a single price (depending on your length of stay), you get admission to 600 houses, gardens, castles, museums,etc., including all the National Trust and English Heritage properties. See www.britishheritagepass.com.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 01:33 AM
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If you're visiting north Wales, you must not miss Bodnant garden and May is the ideal time to visit for the rhododendrons and azaleas in the Dell. http://www.worldisround.com/articles/169054/index.html Other National Trust properties in the area have interesting houses as well as gardens, such as Penrhyn Castle and Plas Newydd on Anglesey. Powis Castle (mid Wales) also has a fantastic garden. You'll find many beautiful houses and gardens on the National Trust site:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Some of my of my favourite and maybe lesser known gardens are Ness Botanic gardens on the Wirral. http://www.nessgardens.org.uk/ Wollerton Old Hall garden in Shropshire http://www.wollertonoldhallgarden.com/ The Dorothy Clive garden (also a good place for rhododendrons and Azaleas) http://www.dorothyclivegarden.co.uk/ Holehird gardens near Troutbeck in the Lake District has a wonderful walled garden and fantastic Lakland views. http://www.holehirdgardens.org.uk/ Lea gardens is another small but beautiful rhododendron garden near Matlock in Derbyshire - http://www.leagarden.co.uk/
Maria_H is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 01:56 AM
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Don't miss Wisley:

http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/
Carrybean is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 03:03 AM
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Also not too far from Wisley, the Savill and Valley gardens in Windsor Great Park will be fantastic in May. We visited all these in May a few years ago and were particularly amazed by the Punch Bowl, a large bowl shaped area of hill side ablaze with colourful azaleas.

http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/67_s...valley_gardens
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Mar 21st, 2007, 08:59 AM
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Also the Eden Project - two gigantic biodomes: Humid tropics (rainforest), and warm temperate (mediterranean/s.African/Californian) plus outdoor plants/gardens.

http://www.edenproject.com/
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Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:04 AM
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hi, eb,

ref nona's recommoendation for Cornwall, i deliberately didn't expound on the "gardens in Corwall" as they are very dependent upon the time of year, apart, of course from Eden.

If you were wanting a Spring visit, there are few better places.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:12 AM
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Cornwall/Devon have some beautiful gardens for sure. But they are a long way from some other parts of the UK so you really need to decide which areas you want to visit. There are also amazing gardens in Wales, Scotland, Northern England and all over. I give travel presentations and one is about Gardens of the British Isles, and folks are amazed about the vast numbers. I use photos of about 45-50 gardens and then give them a list of about 150 others.

And that doesn't include any historic houses unless they are known for the grounds/gardens.

You are talking about a fairly short trip - so you need to focus a bit on which 2 or 3 areas you want to visit, and then we can help you work out an itinerary that makes sense.
janisj is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:15 AM
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hi, janisj,

Cornwall and Devon are not a long way from me!!! [with the weather this week, I wish they had been!]

yours with webbed feet and a cold nose,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:21 AM
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Actually where I am it is warmer than that - but I'd rather be in Cornwal at the moment.

BTW, ebcutler - I wasn't trying to talk you out of the SW. It is REALLY a lovely part of the country. (is that better, annhig? )

I was just trying to explain there are quite literally hundreds of Gardens/Historic houses worth visiting. Throwing out suggestions for a garden/house here and a garden/house there is almost counter productive. decide the few areas that appeal most and we can help you narrow things down . . .
janisj is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:23 AM
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sheesh - screwed that up

Meant to say "Actually where I am it is warm and sunny - but even so, I'd rather be in Cornwall at the moment"
janisj is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:29 AM
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hi, janisj,

NO YOU WOULDN'T! It's grey and grumpy.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:31 AM
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But it is still Cornwall . .

But I do have to rub it in a bit. This morning (it is still morning here on the west coast) I'm drinking my tea and reading the newspaper on my back gardens deck and wearing sunglasses
janisj is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:42 AM
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This thread is making me want to go back to England. I too, loved Cornwall and the west country. On our first 16 day trip we were so unsure we would be back that we hopped to Cornwall, Cotswolds, Wales, Lake Country, the Scottish Highlands and Oban. I did love the gardens.

I too am having my morning coffee, and it hasn't been above freezing where I live since February 3, so yes, I could tolerate a bit of 'grey' Cornwall!
hopingtotravel is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:18 AM
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For the third time this month (the other times were for gardens in France and Italy) I recommend this website:

http://www.gardenvisit.com/

The Automobile website has a comprehensve website for BnBs:

http://www.theaa.com/travel/index.jsp

This website is just what it says:

http://www.britainexpress.com/Where_to_go_in_Britain

For a nominal $17 or so ($65 list) you can get a used copy of this wonderful volume to enhance your journey.

England's Thousand Best Houses - Simon Jenkins - ISBN 0-670-03302-2

There is also a volume "England's Thousand Best Churches" )not Cahedrals) by the same author. Unfortunately, they are a little too heavy to carry around. Both have more concise lists within. My regional library system has the Church volume but not the Houses so you might check your library. BTW, you could donate them to your library for a tax deduction.
jsmith is offline  

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