Great gardens and historic homes to visit…post-lockdown: #1 Holdenby House
Written by Karl Quinney on June 1, 2020
Article Published on Monday June 1, 2020 8:23 PM by Karl Quinney
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Today being the first day of June marks the start of summer and normally a time when many of us enjoy getting out and about to visit a local garden or historic house.
However, the lockdown restrictions and ‘stay at home’ guidance to combat the coronavirus pandemic have meant this leisurely pursuit is another to add to the list which has been put on hold as these popular visitor attractions aborted their traditional seasonal opening.
And wouldn’t you know it, we have just had the sunniest and driest month of May on record for the gardens and all their springtime glory to bask in, albeit with the absence of visitors.
But the green shoots of recovery and things returning to some sort of normality are perhaps slowly starting to appear. Many gardens across the UK (predominately those owned by the National Trust and English Heritage) are unlocking their gates and starting to welcome a trickle of visitors inside, albeit with restrictions in place.
The National Trust has begun a phased reopening of a number of selected gardens and parks in England and Northern Ireland (though not yet in Wales, where Welsh government guidelines differ). However, visitors must book in advance with a ticketed booking system designed to limit numbers and maintain public safety. It is a system we can probably expect to also see at our more local attractions when they provide the all-clear for visitors to return.
Here in Central England we are quite fortunate with the number of such fine heritage properties that are available to explore. So, over the next few weeks we will provide you with a few suggestions of great gardens and historic homes to visit…post-lockdown.
We start with a property which was recently selected to appear as one of only eight Estates to feature in Smithsonian Channels ‘An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates’.
Holdenby House is a Grade II* listed building which was once the largest private house in England and also the palace of James I and Charles I. Located six miles northwest of Northampton and 10 miles from Daventry, the property overlooks thousands of acres of countryside, all of which can be enjoyed from the elegance of its state rooms which open onto Holdenby’s own beautiful Grade I listed gardens.
The vast 20 acres of outstanding Grade I listed gardens beautifully reflect the grandeur and history of Holdenby House. The Elizabethan Garden was designed by Rosemary Verey using only plants available in the 1580s and The Pond Garden was designed by Rupert Golby, featuring two annual plantings. But that’s not all. The Silver border is home to the owner’s collection of silver plants and the Tous Tous Border is a proverbial delight for the senses, filled with fragrant offerings.
The house itself is usually only open on special event days, however it has recently opened up to Private Group tours, and as a member of the Historic Houses Association is now able to accommodate individual bookings onto private tours of the state room of the house.
It is this combination of grandeur and intimacy which also make Holdenby a popular venue for weddings, corporate dinners and meetings, while the spacious grounds have also accommodated many events ranging from Civil War battles to Formula One parties. Once you visit here, you will see why.
Once lockdown restrictions are eased and the proverbial green light to visit is given, the Gardens at Holdenby can be visited and enjoyed on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. And whilst you are at it, you will not want to pass on a visit to Connie’s Tea Parlour. Located in the Old Stable Yard, it provides an array of light lunches, sweet treats and afternoon teas which are really quite special.
During lockdown you can get a flavour of what to look forward to by following updates from Holdenby House on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@holdenbyhouse)
And for further information, head to their website at www.holdenby.com.
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