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Hestercombe Gardens & Gallery
Nestled at the foot of the beautiful Quantock Hills AONB, Hestercombe Gardens is steeped in history and bursting with wildlife, and features a stunning collection of historic gardens.
Suitable for all ages, a visit to Hestercombe should include a wander around the lush Georgian Landscape Garden, with each of its splendid 18th century ‘seats’ displaying true magnificence from their borrowed views. The Edwardian formal gardens, designed by arts and crafts pioneer Gertrude Jekyll, alongside master architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, are simply breathtaking during the summer and early autumn months, with Jekyll’s ‘vibrating’ colours weaving expertly through Lutyens’ hard landscaping. Lose yourself along the cool rills, or as you stroll through the picturesque pergola, adorned with fragrant roses and lavender.
All ages will enjoy a visit to Hestercombe, with its 50 acres of gardens to explore, two play areas, a cafe and restaurant, gift shop, and plant centre. Hestercombe Gallery features regular contemporary exhibitions, both indoor and outside around the gardens, which adds an extra dose of culture to your visit. Throughout school holidays there are regular activity days for children, along with fun family garden trails. Check the website for more information and how to book.
With 50 acres of gardens steeped in history and a contemporary art gallery with a changing programme of exciting exhibitions, Hestercombe offers lots of opportunities for learning outside of the classroom.
Your school, college or learning group can enjoy year-round visits to Hestercombe with education membership.
From swathes of bluebells in spring, fragrant roses in summer, autumn’s red berries and snowdrops in winter, each season brings something different to see.
Use our beautiful Georgian Landscape Garden as a source of inspiration for creative writing or Rook Wood as a location for Forest School activities. Hestercombe’s diverse landscape can enhance learning across the whole curriculum.
Key Stages 1 & 2 Curriculum Links
Hestercombe’s diverse landscape garden, open areas and huge variety of plant life offer many opportunities to supplement lessons in the Key Stage 1 and 2 curriculum. These include:
Subject / Curriculum skills
PE ~ Health, fitness and wellbeing, Movement skills (Balance, co-ordination, fine control)
Art & Design ~ Visual and tactile elements (colour, shape), Media and materials, Inspiration and investigation
Science & Wildlife ~ Minibeasts, Plants (what does a plant need to grow, parts of a plant, life cycle, what plants can you find outside), Habitats (urban, woodland, pond), Earth and space (Seasons)
~ For primary aged children we require one accompanying adult for every eight pupils.
~ For secondary and tertiary we require one adult for every fifteen pupils or students.
~ For all educational organisations a minimum of two supervising adults per group are required.
Groups with additional needs or undertaking specialised activities need to have higher numbers of accompanying adults, to be confirmed with the place at the time of booking.
The number and size of groups admitted to a site at any one time are at the discretion of Hestercombe Gardens Trust.
About Hestercombe’s gardens
Spanning three centuries of garden design, Hestercombe Gardens offer a unique combination and varied experience of the Georgian Landscape Garden (designed 1750s), the Victorian Shrubbery and the Edwardian Formal Gardens (early 1900s).
Setting off along the gravel walk on the southern edge of Rook Wood you’ll discover a breathtaking view from the magnificent Daisy Steps which were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to create a link between his Formal Garden and the earlier Landscape Garden.
The Victorian Shrubbery is a small enclosed garden incorporating a nineteenth-century yew tunnel with views to the Victorian water tower.
Hestercombe’s Landscape Garden, designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde, incorporates the restored eighteenth-century Octagon Summerhouse and its framed views of the gardens both up and down the valley.
The Terrace Walk leads to the Chinese Seat and the Valley of Cascades glimpses through the trees to see the Pope’s Urn so named after the original design by William Kent for the poet Alexander Pope and erected in his garden at Twickenham.
The spectacular Great Cascade is the dramatic centrepiece of the Landscape Garden and its theatrical effect was inspired by Bampfylde’s visit to William Shenstone’s garden, The Leasowes, in 1762. Opposite is another viewing point – the Rustic Seat allowing the visitor to stop and contemplate this sublime scene.
Two ponds, the Box Pond and the Pear Pond make for tranquil places to sit and reflect on your journey around the gardens. And further garden buildings, the Gothic Alcove, the Temple Arbour, the Witch House and Mausoleum all punctuate the walk towards the restored 17th century Water Mill with its Dynamo House and Mill Room.
Cross the manicured Orangery Lawns towards the Formal Gardens where you’ll find the Dutch Garden and the impressive Orangery.
The Formal Gardens extend to the Rotunda with views across the East Rill and then follow the path across the Victorian Terrace overlooking the world acclaimed Great Plat resplendent with bright colours specified by garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.
When you descend the steps leading to the Grey Walk with soft borders of silver and grey leafed plants you’ll find yourself on The Great Plat – a great sunken parterre laid out with geometric borders edged with stone and ringed with luxuriant bergenia. The East and West Rills frame this garden with a Pergola enclosing the garden at the bottom and allow it to remain linked to and be part of the surrounding countryside.
Back through the fragrant Rose Garden, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to offer cool shade you’ll find yet more stunning views.
Disabled Access, Disabled Toilets, Guide Dogs Welcome, On Site Parking
Cater for Educational Groups, Conference Facilities, Pre visit Available,
Cafe, Picnic Site, Shop, Toilets,
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