Part of the ‘Capability’ Brown 300 Celebrations!
This tour is designed as a brief introduction to the gardens of Sussex, West London and featuring several properties designed by famed British garden designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, as we celebrate 300 years since his birth. Sussex is simply littered with a wide variety of fascinating gardens styles. There are flower-filled gardens, formal and informal, large and small, planned and wild, all bursting into riots of colour and overloading the senses with fragrant smells and sights. The lovely countryside of Sussex is comprised of The Weald, what remains of Britain’s ancient woodlands, and The Downs, a chalky hills cape. We are not far from the sea so can add a coastal view or two into the mix as well!
The grand finale to our tour is a day to explore Henry VIII’s pleasure palace and amazing gardens at Hampton Court. Our tour includes a full day ticket to the famed RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, as an extra special treat for gardens lovers.
From http://www.capabilitybrown.org/lancelot-capability-brown “Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown changed the face of eighteenth century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green… Brown’s style derived from the two practical principles of comfort and elegance. On the one hand there was a determination that everything should work, and that a landscape should provide for every need of the great house. On the other his landscapes had to cohere and look elegant.”
2016 marks the 300th anniversary of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s birth. Join us in participating in the Capability Brown Tercentenary, 1716 – 2016
2016 Hampton Court Flower Show dates anticipated 05 – 10 July, 2016. Dates not et officially announced. We would request guests not confirm non-refundable airfare until the show dates are official. This tour begins and ends in London.
Day 1: Sunday 03 July. We depart London at 09:00 and head directly south into the beautiful landscapes of South Downs National Park, the ‘youngest’ of the UK’s national parks.
Our first destination is the vast late 17th-century mansion Petworth Estate, set in a beautiful 700-acre deer park, landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and made famous by frequent visitor JMW Turner’s paintings. It is inhabited by the largest herd of fallow deer in England. Inside, the house contains the National Trust’s finest collection of paintings, numerous works by Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, ancient and Neo-classical sculpture, fine furniture and carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
Later, balance the large formal estate of Petworth with a quaint local garden, visit Sussex Prairie Gardens. Owners/gardeners Paul and Pauline McBride are keen to emphasize the beauty and wonder of perennial planting and to demonstrate the longer season benefits of perennials and grasses in ‘dream combinations’ in their 6 acre gem. The plantings consist of large groupings of each variety, planted in a free flowing style, contrasting leaf forms, stems, stalks, flower shapes and textures.
ON Lewes, Sussex Property: White Hart Inn, Pelham House Hotel or similar
Day 2: Monday 04th of July. Sheffield Park Gardens was originally laid out by ‘Capability’ Brown in the late 1700s and has since had several additions. Currently four lakes form the heart of the garden, with paths circulating through the glades and wooded areas surrounding them. Sheffield Park is home to the National Collection of Ghent azaleas. The property, mentioned in the Domesday Book, has been used for many things throughout the centuries including a deer park and a WWII camp.
Tour into neighbouring Kent and see the fabulous Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson’s world famous garden. Explore this intimate and intricate garden and to visit those parts of her home open to the public. Here find a Tudor tower complete with Vita’s workshop, a walled herb garden, mixed border gardens, an oast house museum, a white garden and a cottage garden. Certainly something to delight all interests!
Later, should we have available time to round out the day, there are a variety of choices to consider. There are several quaint local villages to explore, perhaps some photo ops of medieval architecture or a short visit to Rudyard Kipling’s home and quaint cottage garden. Spoilt for choice! ON Lewes, as above.
Day 3: Tuesday 05 July. Another gem planted by a well known horticulturalist is Great Dixter, once the home of Christopher Lloyd. He designed the stunning gardens based on the Arts & Crafts style framework plan made by his father and Sir Edwin Lutyens. Enjoy the variety of plantings, including the peacock topiary, wild meadow flowers, mixed borders, the famous Long Border, ponds and the exuberant Exotic Garden. Here too is the largest surviving timber-framed halls in the country.
Our next garden is 11 acres and a winner of the Historic Homes Assn/Christie’s Garden Of The Year Award. Mr and Mrs James Sellick are the owners and inhabitants of Pashley Manor, a Grade I listed timber-framed house, dating from 1550 and enlarged in 1720. See this Romantic English landscape framed by fine old trees, fountains and ponds, with the unusual Tudor/Georgian manor house, a private family home, as the backdrop. There are lovely views of the surrounding countryside to enjoy.
Also today, a landscape park with a history as old as England itself, visit Battle Abbey and the 1066 Battlefield. Today peaceful with wild flowers and birdsong, this evocative landscape once played host to thousands of men, fighting for the future of king and country. See William the Conqueror’s abbey, where you can stand where it is said King Harold died, and enjoy a re-created Victorian walled garden. ON Lewes, as above.
Day 4: Wednesday 06 July. Spoilt for choice on this very full final day in Sussex! Another world famous garden to explore is Nymans. Created by Ludwig Messel in the late 1800s and developed by family generations since, Nymans is a garden lover’s delight featuring a series of gardens within a garden, from dazzling herbaceous borders to the romantic Italianate loggia.
Also today, Wakehurst Place is a National Trust site managed by Kew Gardens, sometimes called “Kew’s Country Estate.” It is set in 465 acres and boasts ornamental gardens, temperate woodlands, a nature reserve, lakes, formal gardens, an Elizabethan house (five unfurnished rooms) and the 21st-century architecture of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. Wakehurst marked an international conservation milestone in 2010, having conserved seeds from ten percent of the world’s plant species. Should we manage additional time before making our way into West London, there are two small gems right around the bend – Borde Hill, called ‘one of the country’s truly great gardens’ by Country Life magazine, and High Beeches, a woodland garden of 27 acres. ON West London Property: Coach and Horses Kew, Richmond Inn or similar
Day 5: Thursday 07 July. Today explore the lovely western ‘suburbs’ of London. Set amongst a series of parks and estates along the River Thames, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a historic landscape garden including work by several renowned landscape architects including ‘Capability’ Brown. Kew is a lavish 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and offers the largest indoor glasshouse space in the UK, home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, more than 30,000 different kinds! After an orientation chat with your tour guide, you’re free to experience the highlights of this wonderful property independently – see your choice of the Alpine gardens, Japanese gardens, The Great Pagoda, Treetop Walkway and Kew Palace. Perhaps stop in the Orangery for a nice bite during your time here too!
Richmond is a neighbourhood where many celebrities call home and what once was King Henry VIII’s favourite hunting ground. Richmond Gate, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in 1798, leads into the 2,470 acres of Richmond Park, the largest open space in Greater London – where you can sometime spy the descendants of Henry’s royal deer.
Syon House and Syon Park will round out our full day. In one of his first major commissions, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown swept away the dilapidated landscape to the south and west of Syon House in 1750, replacing it with the open views characteristic of the English Landscape movement. Over the course of twenty years he extended this to the north and west, incorporating farmland to the west into the new park, and creating Pleasure Grounds to the north, both centred on large new ornamental lakes. The house itself is one of the last great houses of London, and has been in the family of the present owners for more than 400 years. Profoundly historic, the House holds a wealth of art within its grand classical interiors. Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake and the option to attend the theatre. ON West London, as above
Day 6: Friday 08 July. Hampton Court Palace and Rhs Flower Show. Our grand finale is a full day to enjoy Henry VIII’s masterpiece Hampton Court Palace, the sumptuous backdrop for the largest annual flower show! You’ll have ample time to explore the castle interiors, the grounds and gardens as well as the special flower & plant displays, marketplaces and workshops of the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Along with the Tudor Kitchens, Henry VIII’s State Apartments are the most popular attraction inside the palace. The Great Hall is the palace’s largest and most impressive room, with an ornate carved-wood ceiling and a collection of Flemish tapestries that date back over 500 years.
Hampton Court Palace is set in over 60 acres of gardens and parklands along the scenic River Thames. You won’t want to miss the Great Vine, planted by ‘Capability’ Brown, the rose gardens, Privy Gardens inspired by William of Orange, the Tiltyard and the famous Yew tree hedge Maze. There is one of the few ‘real’ tennis courts to be seen here too! One transfer will be provided to Hampton Court in the morning and one transfer back to your hotel in the evening. You are welcomed to come and go from the show as you please using public transport. Your ticket to the flower show is valid from opening until closing. Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake and the option to attend the theatre. ON West London, as above.
Saturday 09 July optional day tour add-on to Blenheim Palace and lower Cotswolds villages.
Today is an optional day trip (for the appropriate supplemental cost) to Blenheim Palace. This incredible treasure house was given to Winston Churchill’s ancestor John, 1st Duke of Marlborough. The superb collection here includes fine paintings, furniture, bronzes and the famous Marlborough Victories tapestries. In addition to the palace itself, with its opulent splendour, you’ll also have some time to wander the amazing gardens, designed in part by ‘Capability’ Brown – considered by many to be his masterpiece. We can spend the remains of our day meandering the lovely Cotswolds villages – if we’ve fans on board, perhaps via a Downton Abbey film location or two!
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.
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