Backyard Surprises: The Ickworth House

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I will never get over just how much there is to see here in England. There are so many historical landmarks and gorgeous lands– in such a small country! In fact, we really haven’t wandered very far in the UK at all, but there is still always a long list of things to see and do, within an hour’s drive. This amazes me! But what blows my mind even more is that there are incredible places right here in my vicinity.
For example the Ickworth House. I had seen landmark signs for it around ever since we arrived, but I didn’t really know anything about it, and was foolish enough to assume it wasn’t going to be that interesting. But last June, my butcher insisted that we really should go, and even gave us secret tips on how to get onto the property through the back (legal, by the way) thus avoiding the stiff entrance fees. (Don’t judge me– everything here seems to cost a ton!)  We found the back woods entrance where we could park, and walk in. And then, as usual, we proceeded to be awed and delighted.

It felt like we had traveled to a faraway place– not somewhere that would be within an hour’s walk from our house. Amazing! I never posted pictures from that time, but we went again last weekend, and now I can show you the grounds.
Here’s the gate at the back of the property– it’s just a beautiful woodland!You can read the full story of the Ickworth House and all 1,800 acres of property now under the care of the National Trust here and here. Read all about the eccentric 4th Earl of Bristol, who commissioned an Italian- inspired building and gardens here. I will mostly just show you pictures of the gorgeous grounds!

I love this sign for Lady Katharine’s Wood. If only all young women had a wood of their own… It sounds so Jane Austen, doesn’t it? In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a real fondness for hanging out in the forest. We could have spent the day in this area, just poking around, noticing things like leaves and fungi.But we kept walking– there was so much ahead of us to see!I couldn’t help but think of Christopher Robin and the Hundred Acre Wood…
We soon came out of the woods and were rewarded with huge, beautiful fields and hundreds of grazing sheep. By the way, the little pink house on the left above is available for rent!And there’s the  Ickworth house, in the distance!We took our time getting there, though– there was so much to enjoy along the way.Here’s the part I love the most: There is a huge area of land dedicated to gardens, orchards, and vineyards.
We’ve tasted the wine from this vineyard, and it’s really nice! The couple who has been making wine from these vines told us that their lease is ending soon, so I wonder what the National Trust will choose to do with this vineyard next. Something special, I hope!By the way, this is the view opposite the gardens, orchard, and vineyard:It’s just too much, isn’t it?!
Speaking of too much… How about all of these autumn colors outside of the keepers’ cottage?OK, onto the actual Ickworth House! This is the back, where they have planted an italianate garden. It’s really beautiful, but we couldn’t go through it, since there was a wedding taking place at the time.
And here is the front.So beautiful and interesting! Since we had come through the back way, and hadn’t paid admission, we didn’t try to walk through the inside and check out the exhibits. But– I think we’ll go back tomorrow, buy a National Trust membership, and see the working kitchens downstairs, with service reenactments! Crossing my fingers that we can go, and that I can get some great pictures for you.Sigh… It was all so gorgeous. As evening approached, it got cold so fast, and so we briskly walked to back through the fields and woods to our car. It was such a full day out, just a five minute drive from home! I hope you enjoyed coming along with us through pictures.

Have you found any “backyard surprises” in your area?

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14 Responses to Backyard Surprises: The Ickworth House

  1. greatdana November 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Stunning! By chance did you catch the price to rent the pink cottage? 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins November 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      Dana, I just added the link to info about renting it!

  2. Elie November 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    So delightful! Wish I was there with you all!

    • Ariana Mullins November 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      Me too, Elie! We’ll go the next time you visit.

  3. Hazel November 18, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    I was going to suggest you look at NT membership- if you like stately homes or their grounds, it’s really worth it. We find it often saves us on car parking charges too, if we in an area that they own.

    We live within easy distance of Blenheim Palace, Waddesdon Manor (owned by the NT) and the Cotswolds, so there’s lots to see. Sometimes it’s easy to take it for granted and we don’t make the effort to get out and see it.

    • Ariana Mullins November 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

      Yes, we did go back and buy a membership! Now we are going to be busy looking for all the places nearby to visit. I was super disappointed, though, that we arrived at 2:30 on Sunday and they were no longer letting visitors into the house, and the last service reenactment for the year was over. We’ll have to go when they do it again, and I REALLY hope they’ll let me take some pictures!

  4. Ed Shackelford November 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Great, Ariana! Thanks for all the beautiful pictures and the running commentary. If and when we are in England again, we would love to see it ourselves. -Dad

    • Ariana Mullins November 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      I’m sure you would really enjoy it! We have hardly even been inside the buildings, which I am sure are really interesting/ beautiful. The outside grounds are all so wonderful that we have spent all of our time just walking through them. I went back the next morning to go walking with a friend, and saw even more that I hadn’t traversed before. Really fun!

  5. Julia November 20, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    beautiful photos! Its nice to see you have leaves on your trees in november 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins November 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      Hi Julia! Yes, we still have some leaves hanging on. We’ve had a storm today, though, so we’ll see what’s still left tomorrow. It’s been glorious, though.

  6. Great Aunt Gretchen November 21, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Such beautiful pictures!! Wow!

  7. I vote the next Village Green Network conference is in your neck of the woods!

  8. NicolaB June 18, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    I love your photos of the park- I have been taking photos of Ickworth for years and have not managed to take any as good! I often walk the dog in the park, and used to volunteer in the house…I love having it so close, but I probably take it for granted a bit.

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