Sulgrave Manor

Sulgrave Manor is a manor house located in the village which shares its name in South Northamptonshire close to the town of Brackley.  The manor house is probably the most well-known feature of the village along with its historical parish church.  The manor house itself features a rather simplistic exterior, but it is home to some very interesting history.

The house is famous because it was the ancestral home to the George Washington family.  It was opened to the public in 1921 by the Marquess of Cambridge, brother-in-law to the King of England, as a symbol of friendship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

You can only explore the house as part of a guided tour.  Tours are conducted throughout the day, and there is a small entry fee.  You will want to call ahead to make sure that you do not miss your tour since the times for the tours are sometimes moved.

The Manor Buttery serves refreshments during the early part of the day.  It is wise to book ahead to ensure your spot on the tour.  While you are at the house, you will learn about the Washington family and the history of the relations between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Sulgrave Manor

Sezincote Gardens

Sezincote Gardens in Gloucestershire

Perhaps one of the most architecturally distinctive sites in the Cotswolds is the Sezincote House in Gloucestershire.  This estate was designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell in 1805 in the Neo-Mughal style.  The manor was constructed out of red sandstone with a copper chattri and minarets and is somewhat more exotic than the average English manor house.  The interior design however is more typically European, similar to that of other manor houses in the Cotswolds.

Sezincote’s gardens offer many lovely views of the exterior of the exotic manor house, wide green lawns, a lily pond, statues of elephants, and hedges carved like elephants and other whimsical shapes.  Sezincote is not your typical English manor house, nor are the gardens the classic English gardens you might expect when visiting the Cotswolds, but they do capture a different aspect of England’s past.  Sezincote hearkens back to the age of British Empire, uniting the styles of England with those of the lands that England once conquered.  This provides a different look at history captured through the lens of Cockerell’s fusion of architectural styles.  Fans of English and Mughal architecture alike will enjoy his beautiful construction while roaming the green lawns of Sezincote gardens.

Sezincote Gardens is just a few miles from Moreton In Marsh & Blockley in Gloucestershire.

Sezincote Gardens

Sezincote Gardens Wikipedia

 

 

Rousham House

Rousham House is a large, regal-looking manor house located in Oxfordshire in the Cotswolds.  The house was first constructed around the year 1635 and has never left the ownership of its original family in all the centuries since.  It has however been remodeled a number of times, most notably by William Kent in the 18th century, who added Gothic elements to its style.  William Kent is quite well known, and fans of his work travel from all over England and all around the world to see the Rousham House.

The manor house itself resembles a miniature castle with its embrasured walls, and overlooks a beautiful garden featuring a pigeon house, apple trees, herbs and flowers, and artfully grown hedge walls.  There is no tea room at the Rousham House, which makes it a bit different from other houses in the area.  The reason for this is that the family did not want the grounds to become commercially developed.  They do however allow you to bring your own picnic lunch and eat on the beautiful grounds.  It is easy to spend an entire afternoon at the Rousham House, so you probably will want to plan for this.  You can also choose to have your wedding hosted at Rousham House.

Rousham House

Rousham House Wikipedia

Rodmarton Manor

One of the larger manor houses in the Cotswolds is Rodmarton Manor, located near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.  The building is an important monument to the Arts and Crafts style and was constructed from 1909-1929 based off a design by Ernest Barnsley.  Barnsley himself was unable to complete the building, as he died in 1925; his brother and his son in law completed the work.

The large manor house is itself a fine example of the architecture of the time, but it is also famous for the collection of furniture and crafts from the Arts and Crafts movement.  Outside the house, you can also explore eight acres of beautiful garden featuring wide lawns, a sizeable kitchen garden, elegant pathways and low stone walls, and artistically trimmed hedges and trees.

Roses and other flowers fill the air with their aroma while birds and butterflies flutter among the trees and blossoms.  The garden is particularly famous for its snowdrops.  There are more than 150 types!  There is a lot to see and do at Rodmarton Manor, so you may want to plan a whole day of it while you are staying in Cirencester.  It’s a great opportunity to get out of the city and take in some history.

Rodmarton Manor

Rodmarton Manor Website

Prior Park Gardens

If you are visiting the city of Bath in Somerset and feel a need to get away from the crowds for a while and enjoy the neighboring countryside, you might want to plan an excursion to the Prior Park Landscape Garden.  This 18th century garden was designed by the famous poet Alexander Pope in collaboration with the landscape artist Capability Brown.  Currently it is overseen by the National Trust, and offers visitors access to wide green lawns and sweeping hillsides, beautiful views of the city of Bath, as well as a number of intriguing architectural features.

The most iconic site in the Prior Park Gardens is probably the Palladian Bridge.  The Palladian Bridge was constructed in 1755 by Ralph Allen with some input from both the garden’s creators.  Palladian architecture was quite popular during the 18th century, but this was one of the last Palladian bridges built in England.  The bridge was restored during the 90s to remove river silt and repair damage.  Care was taken however to preserve graffiti left on the bridge clear back in the 18th century, now as historic as the bridge itself.   Other destinations in the park include the beautiful summerhouse, the historic icehouse, and waterfalls from the Serpentine Lake.

Prior Park Gardens Website

Proir Park Gardens

Peto Gardens


The Peto Gardens are located at the Ilford Manor Estate in the idyllic Ilford Valley by the Fromme River in Wiltshire.  The manor itself is a beautiful building constructed out of characteristic golden Cotswold stone with an 18th century façade.  The gardens take their name from Harold Ainsworth Peto, a landscaper who lived in the manor house from 1899 to 1933.  Peto’s beautiful gardens are still a favorite destination for visitors to the Cotswolds today.

Peto’s gardens have a very fanciful look inspired by the gardens of classical civilizations.  Roman columns, statues, and paved walkways lead visitors between shady cypress trees, tranquil pools, delightful terraces, and aromatic wisteria vines.  Visiting the Peto Gardens is like taking in a bit of classical Italy without leaving English shores.  The columns and statues will make you feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time to ancient Rome.  The Romans themselves were past inhabitants of the Ilford Valley, and through Peto’s landscape designs, they have left a lasting mark.  If you are visiting during midsummer, you can enjoy the opera and jazz concert series.  Professional and amateur artists also are invited to play on Sunday afternoons.  The Sunday concerts are free to the public to attend.

Peto Gardens Wiltshire

Mill Dene Garden Blockley

MILL DENE

If you are visiting the towns of Blockley or Morteton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire and want to discover one of the hidden gems of the Cotswolds, consider paying a visit to the charming Mille Dene Garden.  The mill on this site has a history spanning back centuries, and was purchased by the Dare family in 1964.  The Dares got into gardening and opened up their garden to the public in 1992.  While the garden is not the most well known in the Cotswolds, nor is it the largest, it is a favorite of many visitors who are willing to wander off the beaten path a bit.

In the Mille Dene garden, you will find peaceful trails leading through the vegetable garden and past the swimming pool, stepping stones and a bridge across a babbling brook, a waterfall, a walk with roses, an ornamental fruit and herb garden, and other beautiful cultivated features.  If you are interested in learning about gardening, you can volunteer and receive free training.  Or you can simply relax and enjoy yourself as you stroll down the picturesque walkways.  Blockley itself is also a lovely village to visit, located fifteen miles away from Stratford upon Avon.  Enjoy visiting Mille Dene and escaping the crowds of Cheltenham!

Mill Dene Blockley

Lydney Park Gardens

Some of the most magical gardens in the Cotswolds are located in Lydney Park between Gloucester and the Forest of Dean.  The Lydney Park mansion was built by the Wintour Family, well-known supporters of King Charles 1.  The estate passed to Benjamin Bathurst in the year 1719, and it has remained in that family ever since.  At Lydney Park, you can visit the Spring Gardens, Forestry & Sawmill, Dairy Farm, and Roman Ruins.

The Sawmill is a working mill which provides hourly cutting of oak, red cedar, and Douglas Fir.  At the Dairy Farm, you can purchase locally produced dairy products and caught venison and other game.  The Spring Gardens are of course the main feature at Lydney Park, splendidly cultivated with magnolias, cherry trees, acers, azaleas, rhododendrons, and other beautiful trees and flowers.  These delightful gardens have a woodland feel with a sense of wilderness preserved.  In the gardens you can also view the Roman Ruins which were excavated on the property in 1805, which include the remnants of a Roman camp and temple.  A Romano-British sculpture of a dog in cast bronze is the most prominent feature, and has become the symbol for this gorgeous Cotswolds estate.

Lydney Park

Lyndey Park Website

Cerney House Gardens

If you are visiting Gloucestershire and are near the town of Cheltenham, you may want to take a few hours to visit the Cerney House Gardens.  These walled gardens belonged to Lady Angus and her daughter Barbara.  Previously, Barbara had no experience with gardening, but Lady Angus did, and together, they were able to cultivate a wonderland of floral beauty inside the old Victorian walls.  Initially, the garden struggled, but Lady Angus and Barbara were diligent, dedicating all of their time to cultivating it.  Over the years, this little garden has grown in fame and flourished.

Inside, you’ll find tulips, daffodils, snowdrops and many other beautiful species of flowers.  The garden, while clearly cultivated, has a wilder and more organic feel to it than many of the more orderly English gardens in the Cotswolds, and a smaller and more intimate feel.  You can also purchase hand-made cheeses at the shop on the grounds.  The Cerney House Gardens are also home to local goats, and several types of artisan cheeses are available for you to try.  These gardens are a great opportunity to get away from the bustle of Cheltenham and see some of the finest cultivated land in Gloucestershire.

Cerney House Gardens

Bourton House Gardens

Visitors to the Cotswolds who love English manor houses and gardens won’t want to miss the Bourton House while visiting the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill.  Bourton-on-the-Hill is located in Gloucestershire two miles west of Moreton-in-Marsh, some of the most scenic countryside in the Cotswolds.  The Bourton House has a history dating back to at least 1570, the date on the dedication stone preserved on the site.  The stately manor was then rebuilt by Sir Nicholas Overbury in 1598 in the Jacobean style.  Considered unfashionable, it was rebuilt once more in the early 18th century by Alexander Popham.  The house has changed its form in some respects over the intervening years, but is otherwise intact.

Bourton House is known for its elegant English garden more than any other feature.  At the Bourton House Garden, you will find expansive green lawns offering lovely views of the house itself, comfortable garden benches in shady corners, artistically trimmed hedges, whimsically sculpted trees and bushes, and colorful fruits, vegetables, and flowers adorning the garden beds.  A neatly trimmed hedge maze offers visitors the chance to explore a charming knot garden.  The Bourton House garden may not be as large as some other gardens in the region, but it is among the most beautifully cultivated.

Bourton House Gardens