Picture perfect gardens and parks you shouldn’t miss in East Anglia
There’s something special about a garden. A delight for the senses, the pretty gardens of East Anglia offer a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. If you’re looking for a moment of peace, plan your trip to a stately home, garden and park…
Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1TG
Markshall Estate near Coggeshall, form an unmissable attraction in the Essex countryside, combining beautiful formal gardens, an enviable collection of mature trees from the temperate zones of the world and walks through ancient woodland. A wonderful place to visit all year round, highlights include spectacular snowdrop displays, glorious autumn colours, the largest European collection of Wollemi pines and a beautiful walled garden boasting the longest double border in East Anglia. The garden recently rebranded to ‘Markshall’ which dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086, under the Anglo-Saxon spelling of ‘Mercheshala’. The refreshed identity represents a new period for the charity ahead of its 50th birthday celebrations which begin in November. The 2,350-acre estate and its world-class arboretum are open six days a week, year-round.
Fullers Mill Garden
West Stow, Bury Saint Edmunds IP28 6HD
Fullers Mill is an enchanting seven-acre garden on the banks of the River Lark. But it wasn’t always so. In 1958 it was created by the late Bernard Tickner MBE from rough scrub and woodland, into a surprising yet quiet waterside oasis. The garden combines a beautiful site of light dappled woodland with a plantsman’s collection of unusual shrubs, perennials, lilies and marginal plants, many of which are extinct in the wild. It is a garden of truly year-round interest. The garden is open to visitors from April to October. Tea, coffee and cake is available to take away from the Bothy Tea Room and plants propagated from the garden are for sale. There is also a new pop up shop this season.
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden
School Road, South Walsham, Norwich
Set over 130 acres, here plants are wild and natural but beautiful. The space is great for wildlife enthusiasts. Lose yourself amongst the woodland pathways and take in views of the Broad. The garden hosts regular water activities and workshops. Plan your visit.
Hatfield Park, Hatfield, AL9 5NQ
Explore the Jacobean craftsmanship throughout the house and shop independent retailers at the Stable Yard. The gardens are immaculate with perfectly trimmed yew hedges, seasonal bulbs and shrubs. Throughout the gardens you’ll find sculptures by Angela Conner, ornate Victorian designs and mini mazes. Beyond the intricate designed gardens, visitors can explore the woodlands complete with seasonal blooms, a 19th century rhododendrons and hydrangea walk. Make the most of the flora and choose from one of three circular walks of varying lengths. Plan your visit.
Old Knebworth Lane, Stevenage SG1 2AX
The stunning house is home to equally beautiful gardens. Explore 28 acres of greenery which includes a maze, colourful borders, trees and a wilderness area. Those with children in tow can follow the dinosaur trail and explore the parkland.
Henry Moore Foundation
Dane Tree House, Perry Green, SG10 6EE
Experience Henry Moore’s iconic work against the backdrop of the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside with a visit to the artist’s former home, studios and sculpture gardens. There are regular exhibitions and art events throughout the open season.
Gade Avenue, Watford, WD18 7LG
This Green Flag Award-winning beauty spot has stunning displays of seasonal blooms. With wide open spaces, ancient woodland, a tranquil canal, children’s playground, miniature railway and café, it offers everything for a great day out. At the edge of the park you’ll find Cassiobury Farm, a rare breeds centre housing micro pigs, miniature horses, alpacas and more.
Bridge End Gardens
Saffron Walden, Essex
For serious secret garden vibes, take the time to visit this gem hidden behind colourful cottages in the market town of Saffron Walden. It’s estimated the garden was created in 1840 and unusually it was never attached or designed around a dwelling. Roses and hydrangeas bloom through the summer, vines and climbers create arches, delicate stone statues stand proud and Victorian greenhouses are full of pretty pots. Wander the hedge maze for a moment of solitude. Find out more.
Mannington, Norwich NR11 7BB
Centred around a medieval moated manor, the gardens feature a wide range of plants, trees and shrubs, and extensive rose gardens. On the South Lawn is a classic temple and sensory garden with a water feature and plants selected for touch, sound, scent, colour and taste. Take time to find the ‘Chapel’; a ruins of Saxon origin.
Mannington has always been keen to welcome children, there is a playground, a bare foot sensory experience, nature garden, enchanted path and nature trails with fun things to find such as ladybirds and of course plenty of space to run wild.
The gardens are open on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 11am-5pm through to September and accompanied children under 16 are free.
During the summer school holidays, Mannington Estate is welcoming families to their Nature Discovery Days. The days run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 27 July to 2 September. The days include activities such as dens, natural crafts and mini beast hunts, it is £10 for adults and children from 6 years, accompanied children are £8, and £25 for 2 adults and up to 3 children.
Essex Country Parks
Dotted across the county are a number of parks with beautiful landscapes and habitats. The vast green open spaces provide opportunities to walk, cycle, ride and play. In all the country parks are areas of ancient woodland and wildlife species protected and nurtured, as are many historical features of the landscape. Stop by the deer enclosure at Weald Country Park, the longest children’s play trail in the county at Great Notley or the five lakes at Belhus Woods. Find your nearest park.
Audley End House and Gardens
Audley End Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF
Created by the famous 18th century designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the gardens at this historic home are beautiful at any time of year with displays alive with vibrant colours. Stroll through the immaculate grounds and explore the stables, before stopping for tea at the café. Beyond the grounds, via an entrance located in the town of Saffron Walden, visitors can walk the outskirts of the grounds at Audley End Park. It’s a popular walk for dog walkers. Find out more here.
Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HR
Explore the evolution of the English garden and take a stroll through three centuries of landscape design at Wrest Park. From beautiful borders to wonderful woodlands, there’s over 92 acres to discover. Finish up with tea and cake at the café. There’s a children’s plays area too!
Forest of Marston Vale
The Forest Centre, Station Road, Marston Moretaine, Bedford, MK43 0PR
With 61sq miles of community forest, surrounded by beautiful Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside, there’s lots of ground to cover. Pull on your walking boots and enjoy one of the many walking routes ranging for seven to 14 miles.
The Forest Centre in the heart of Forest of Marston Vale, is a great place to start your adventure. Stop by the café or gift shop or let the children have fun in the outdoor play area. Here, you can also hire a bike and explore the area on two wheels!
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
1 Brookside, Cambridge, CB2 1JE
Discover plants from all over the world in 40 acres of beautiful gardens and glasshouses. Expect pretty seasonal flowers and a programme of events throughout the year. Guided garden tours are available every Sunday, May to September.
Langford Road, Biggleswade SG18 9JY
Jordans Mill is a food and heritage attraction in rural Bedfordshire offering tours of the
historic flour mill and gardens to explore. The gardens were designed by Chelsea Flower Show winners Ian Kitson and Julie Toll. The yew hedges and footpaths mimic the flow of the River Ivel. Take a wander through the gardens dedicated to food and flower gardens. Crops, vegetables and fruit grow alongside wild flowers and cultivated garden plants. Refuel with a pitstop at The Riverside Café, where you can tuck into freshly made dishes or afternoon tea.
Kathy Brown’s Garden
The Manor House, Church Road, Stevington
Explore the garden displays, orchards and meadows of this beautiful curated collection of seasonal flowers and plants. Owners Simon and Kathy open their garden to the public every Tuesday until 28 September, and selected Saturdays until 18 September. If you’re a keen gardener book a slot on one of Kathy’s lectures. Book your visit.
Hall Lane, Ingatestone
With limited summer opening times, this privately-owned mansion has an air of exclusivity. Featuring antiques, paintings and extensive gardens, visitors can enjoy exploring the house and grounds. Find out more.
Wandlebury Country Park
Wandlebury Ring, Gog Magog Hills, Cambridge
Much-loved by generations of Cambridge families is Wandlebury Country Park – some 45ha of tranquil woods and chalk grassland. West of the city on the edge of Coton village is The Countryside Reserve; a working farm, offering some 120ha of pasture and agricultural land with diverse wildlife habitats, routes for walkers, cyclists, joggers and more. Both areas are owned and cared for by charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future.
Anglesey Abbey Gardens
Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge
A trip to this National Trust property is a great day out. From Lord Fairhaven’s collection in the House, which took 40 years and a vast fortune to acquire, to the amazing collection of plants in the garden, there’s plenty to see and do. There are a number of walks to enjoy. Explore the Cambridgeshire countryside, passing waterways and the Quy Fen or opt for Anglesey Abbey Dog Walking Trail, a short walk which takes in the countryside near the Abbey and the village of Lode.
Woburn Abbey & Gardens
Woburn Abbey is a must visit. Dating back to 1145, it was originally a religious house for a group of Cistercian monks. Located on the Woburn Estate, visitors can explore 22 rooms within Woburn Abbey and over 28 acres of award-winning Humphry Repton inspired gardens, all set within 3,000 acres of deer park.
Ickworth House, Parkland and Gardens
The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds
A Georgian Italianate palace in an idyllic English landscape Ickworth’s impressive Rotunda – a magnificent showcase commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless treasures collected on tours around Europe in the 18th-century – is an architectural marvel. The Rotunda is enveloped in 1800 acres of parkland and gardens where you can explore, discover and rediscover something new every season in Ickworth’s gardens, a place of contrasts, tranquillity and enchantment.
Long Melford, Sudbury
Explore this beautiful home which has been lived in for over 500 years. Most of the house can be viewed, while the extensive gardens offer many ancient features including a moat, 17th century walled garden and yews of a great age. The property hosts events throughout the year, so check ahead before visiting.