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Sundays, 23 April, 14 May, 11 June, 2pm-7pm Other days by appointment.
April - June
Daffodils, irises, magnolias, rhododendrons, woodland paeonies and lilies growing naturally
Adult £5; Child £1. £7.50 garden, £15 house and garden if by appointment
Disabled Access to part of the garden
18th century temples and statues, open air theatre, lake and ponds. Childhood home of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor in July, see website for details
Rose Cottage, Whitwell Brocket Arms, Ayot St Lawrence The Priory, Hitchin Redcoats, St Ippolytts
The Rusty Gun, St Ippolytts; Brocket Arms, Ayot St Lawrence; Redcoats, St Ippolytts
The Bull, Whitwell Maiden's Head, Whitwell Strathmore Arms, St Pauls Walden
St Pauls Walden church; attractive small market town of Hitchin, 5, miles away.
This 18th century Grade I listed formal woodland garden, covering about 60 acres, was much influenced by French tastes, and is one of the few surviving examples of gardens of this genre. It is based on a patte d'oie (goose foot) design with long rides lined with clipped beech hedges leading to temples and statues. The temple by the lake was designed by William Chambers.
The formal garden is complemented by seasonal displays of snowdrops, daffodils, irises, magnolias, rhododendrons, woodland paeonies and lilies growing naturally. Many of the rhododendron species from the Himalayas and SW China. make a spectacular sight in a good flowering year. Wild flowers are encouraged: banks of cowslips above the lake and bluebells in the woods make a good show, and spotted orchids thrive. They are allowed to seed before the grass in which they grow is cut, so there is a natural look in some parts of the garden in early summer.
The gardens were designed by the owner Edward Gilbert, in 1720 - 1730, based on formal French patte d'oie (goose foot) design, Gilbert's grand-daughter, Mary Eleanor Bowes married John Lyon, Earl of Strathmore, and the house and garden still belong to the Bowes Lyon family. It was the childhood home of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The original garden design remains the same, as hedges and avenues have been replanted in the same positions as before. More recent additions do not intrude on the original design, and the woodland garden developed since 1950, has, amongst other plants, many rhododendrons and magnolia.