“A passion for tradition and impressing guests inspired one man to transform a run-down country house and desolate landscape. At the age of 30, the future Lord Fairhaven began to create his first home. Wanting to inspire and surprise visitors, he created a spectacular garden with planting for all seasons and a cozy house in which to entertain. Life revolved around horse racing and shooting, and guests enjoyed 1930s luxury.” — from the National Trust website.
The house is closed at this time of year, but we were able to walk the very extensive (114 acre) grounds on Sunday. The sun was out, and although it was very cold, swarms of people had the same idea. It’s snowdrop season here, and Anglesey Abbey is a great place to enjoy these little harbingers of spring. The wildlife trails were so much fun, and it was magical to find tufts and fields of these sweet flowers popping out through the dead leaves, even in very shady places. There are over 200 different varieties here!
Tucked into these woods were also hundreds of hellebores, in a range of colors. They look so tropical to me, and it’s wonderful to see something so lush in winter.
There was so much to see that although we walked for a full three hours, we didn’t cover all of it! I look forward to going inside the buildings, but the outsides were really lovely.
The first thing I noticed was this impressive espaliered vine. Grapes, maybe?
I have a real thing for antique windows…
And garden gates. And gardens with statues in them… Imagine all of these roses in bloom!
There is also a grain mill on the property, which has recently been restored to full function. They sell their milled grain on site, and we were able to climb up the ladders three stories inside to check it all out.
Wikipedia explains one of the prominent features of the abbey grounds: One of Huttleston’s great achievements was the establishment of the garden at the house. In 1964 when Huttleston was still living Lanning Roper wrote a book entitled “The Gardens of Anglesey Abbey”. In the book he outlines the careful planning of this remarkable garden with its many vistas, avenues, rare and common trees, pools, statues and river temples. He describes the way in which huge areas of sky and mown grass have been used to balance symmetrical planting and how Broughton used the trees and shrubs to make groups of contrasting colour and foliage.
We were told by other visitors that the winter gardens were not to be missed. I honestly had no idea what a winter garden would look like! Well, it was pretty wonderful. Trees of differing bark colors were thoughtfully planted throughout, and a wide range of winter-flowering bulbs and shrubs filled it in. The smell was so heavenly, and of course unexpected at this time of year.
I have been so focused on getting through winter with a good attitude, that I have forgotten that spring will actually be coming rather soon. Seeing all of these flowers on a sunny day was just what we needed. From now on, it’s time to spot new life and growth all around us, as the days get longer (and my spirits get lighter.) We’ll be back at Anglesey Abbey to see what else has popped up, and to show you the insides of those gorgeous buildings!
Has Spring showed herself to you yet?
P.S. If you like these kinds of tours, you should definitely check out my series on the Ickworth House!