Highgrove and the Cotswolds With Christine Walkden (Good Housekeeping/Country Living)
Our tour of the Cotswolds features an exclusive visit to Highgrove House, the country home of HRH The Prince of Wales. This will be a rare opportunity to see these fascinating gardens which of course are cultivated using wholly organic methods.
Some of the finest gardens in England are to be found nestled among the green and rolling hills of Gloucestershire. Broughton Grange is a spectacular garden designed by multiple Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal Winner Tom Stuart-Smith, while Hidcote Manor is among the best known gardens in Britain. Further highlights include the houses and gardens of Rodmarton Manor and Sezincote, a fine Victorian walled garden at Cerney House and some splendid specimen trees at Batsford Arboretum.
Please note, by the very nature of this holiday, the running order of the tour is subject to change as we are beholden to a successful application for admittance to Highgrove which will be confirmed in February 2020.
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Meals - as per the itinerary
1 June 2020: Itinerary
We depart from our pick-ups points in London, Reading, Swindon and Bristol and head for our first visit, Cerney House Gardens. The centre of the garden space is a Victorian walled garden with a working kitchen garden, a herb garden, woodland and a wildflower bank. A pair of wrought iron gates in an acorn design wide grass paths and herbaceous borders leading to a Victorian gazebo. One of the most popular areas is the Knot Garden, with old roses trailing on a trellis and a laburnum arch leading to a scented garden along with four quince trees. The main borders at Cerney House are themed in a yellow colour in the centre, with gravelled paths lined by hyssop and lavender leading to the walls where old roses and climbing plants thrive. A guided tour and refreshments are included here.
We continue to our comfortable hotel in the Cotswolds. All rooms have private facilities. Dinner is served in the evening.
Meals include: Dinner
Hotel: Oxford Witney Hotel
After breakfast this morning we will transfer to Highgrove, the country home of HRH the Prince of Wales. This will be a rare opportunity to see these fascinating gardens which of course are cultivated using wholly organic methods. Since buying the property in 1980 His Royal Highness sought the advice of a friend, Lady Salisbury, who was an experienced organic gardener well-known for her work at Cranbourne and at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. She and the Prince laid out parts of the garden with scented plants: wisteria, honeysuckle, jasmine, holboellia, lillies and thyme were chosen to surround the house. On the advice of Miriam Rothschild, another gardening expert, the Prince created an experimental wild flower meadow which already boasts around 32 different varieties of endangered native plants including ox-eye daisies, yellow rattle, common spotted orchid, meadow crane’s bill and ragged robin. Every year the Prince takes on a new project to take his garden in new directions, such as his walled kitchen garden or the arboretum. Vegetable varieties loved by the Prince are grown such as Charlotte potatoes and Happil strawberries, leeks, spring cabbage, brussel sprouts and carrots. A wide variety of apples are grown from trees next to the Orchard Room, along with others gathered from the Walled Garden, including Formosa Nonpareil, Golden Knot, Cornish Aromatic and Lady’s Delight.
In the afternoon we will enjoy a visit to the house and gardens of Rodmarton Manor, between Tetbury and Cirencester. This is an ‘Arts and Crafts’ house with a fine eight-acre garden comprising a series of ‘outdoor rooms’ each with its own distinctive character. The architect Ernest Barnsley started Rodmarton in 1909 and it became a shrine to the Cotswolds crafts movement. The grey gabled house has an intricate garden of lively atmosphere, formal in spirit but with a cottage-garden feel to it. The eight-acre Cotswold garden was originally designed as a series of outdoor rooms and is still the same today, which each part of the garden having different characters ranging from alpines in troughs, bigger plants in the rockery, lawns, a large kitchen garden and white borders, to the magnificent herbaceous borders which are constantly being re-planted and improved. There are superb vistas throughout and plenty of places to sit and admire the surroundings.
We return to the hotel in time for dinner.
Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel: Oxford Witney Hotel
This morning, following breakfast, we visit the garden at Broughton Grange. This spectacular garden is set amongst 25 acres of woodland, formal and informal gardens in an attractive Oxfordshire setting. The centre-piece is a large terraced walled garden designed by multiple Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith in 2001, who has skilfully used his vision to blend the gardens into the surrounding countryside. Good early displays of bulbs are followed by outstanding herbaceous planting in the summer. An introductory talk by a member of the gardening team and refreshments are included here.
This afternoon we continue to Hidcote Manor, near Chipping Campden. Although among the best known gardens in Britain, Hidcote Manor still has the power to startle. It was begun before World War I by an American, Major Lawrence Johnston, who devised a type of garden that many think of as quintessentially English. It is a garden built up of separate rooms, each connected to the rest but often with blazing contrasts, laid out in a disciplined setting. Everywhere something enticing is glimpsed through an opening, across a pool or framed by a gate.
Exclusive event: We will be joined here by gardener, horticulturalist and broadcaster Christine Walkden, who will accompany us as we tour the garden.
We return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening. Afterwards Christine Walkden will give us a talk on her experiences as a gardener and presenter and host a Question & Answer session.
Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel: Oxford Witney Hotel
This morning after breakfast we check out of the hotel. Our first visit today is to Batsford Arboretum and Nursery, which contains over 1500 trees with species from all over the world. The collections cover a wide range of plants particularly from the Far East with a good collection of Acer (Maples), Bamboo, Magnolias, Prunus, Quercus (Oaks) and Sorbus. The landscaping includes rockeries, streams and waterfalls, a lake, statues and a hermits cave. Lunch is available here (not included)
Our final visit is to the house and gardens of Sezincote, a unique Indian-style house with an eastern 'Hindu' garden. The project was inspired by Humphry Repton and led to his 1808 book Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton. Repton favoured the style partly for its novelty and partly because neither the Grecian nor the Gothic styles, then popular, were associated with palaces. Sezincote has a temple with a figure of the goddess Souriya, a bronze serpent, Brahmin bulls, a mushroom-shaped fountain, a conservatory with minarets and an unusual curved orangery. Graham Stuart Thomas advised on the planting design. Thomas Daniell, famous as a painter of Indian scenery, designed the Indian Bridge and the Indian Temple. Repton is associated with the project but the only evidence for his professional involvement is some mention of Sezincote in his writing and a sketch for the South Garden. A guided tour of the house in included followed by time to explore the gardens.
Following our visit we will return to our original pick-up points with arrival due in the early evening.
Meals include: Breakfast
Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.
1 June 2020: Additional Info
1 June 2020: Accommodation
Just a short walk from the historic centre of the town, Oxford Witney Hotel, Witney offers great accommodation. Its close proximity to Oxford, Burford, and the Cotswolds makes it the ideal base for travelling throughout Oxfordshire, while elegant en-suite bedrooms are perfect for a tranquil night’s rest at the end of the day.
Enjoy a delicious meal in the contemporary Brasserie restaurant or maybe a light snack and refreshing drink in our bar and lounge. The hotel features a wide range of leisure facilities including a heated swimming pool, spa bath, steam room, and sauna—making Oxford Witney Hotel the right choice for conferences, meetings, weddings, and special events.