Britain is bursting with grand gardens. Here are some of our favourites, accessible by train.
Britain’s great gardens vary greatly. They can be tucked away into secret spots, displayed in all their finery on majestic hillsides, have royal or artistic heritage. What they all have in common is designs which not only create a sense of awe but also calm. To maintain this sense of tranquility, here are some of our favourites that you can reach by train.
Chelsea Physic Garden, London
A heavenly and historic hideaway in central London, this apothecary’s garden dates back to 1673. Every scent has a story here. Open April until end of October, it’s just 1.7km from London’s Victoria station.
Hestercombe House, Somerset
Famous for its three centuries of garden design, experience Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian designs in one place, with lakes, temples and woodland trails scattered among the greenery. Open all seasons and a quick walk from Taunton station.
Monk's House, Sussex
Monk's House is country retreat of Virginia and Leonard Woolf in the heart of the Sussex Downs. Virginia wrote much of her canon here and, as well as seeing her writing studio and art collection, the gardens are a place to take stock of what this place must have meant to them both. A beautiful English country garden, with views over the Downs, it was designed and maintained by Leonard, and Virginia’s short story ‘The Orchard’ was inspired by it, so do take a read before coming. Half an hour’s walk from Southease station or make it part of a 8.8km circular walk from Lewes over the South Downs.
Kew Gardens, London
These Royal Botanic Gardens are home to the world’s largest curated living plant collection within its elegant glass houses, as well as an arboretum, rock garden and Britain’s largest seasonal flower gardens. Accessible by mainline train to Kew.
Anne Hathaway's cottage, Warwickshire
The childhood home, farm and garden of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, it was bought by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in order to protect this delightful heritage garden. This is where Shakespeare did his courting, so do bring a book of sonnets for the journey. Just 20 mins walk from Stratford-upon-Avon station.
Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, Cornwall
This was once the iconic sculptor’s own home and studio, which she requested to be a museum of her work. Take in Hepworth’s glorious sculptures in a location which she described as ‘a sort of magic’. Lovely journey too, just 10 mins walk from St Ives station.
Princess Beatrice Garden, Isle of Wight
Every princess should have a garden, and Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight was created for Queen Victoria’s youngest child. Redesigned and opened in 2009, it is still fit for a princess. Another Victorian royal garden gem on the island is Osborne House, and both are an easy taxi ride or cycle from Ryde.
lford Manor, Wiltshire
Harold Peto was the designer of these gardens, tucked into Wiltshire’s Frome Valley, where he started his creation in 1899. The highlight is its steeply terraced planting, giving views over the valley, as well as elegant colonnades and pools. Take a 25 mins rural walk from Freshford or short taxi ride from Bradford on Avon.
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
As well as its arboretum, rock garden and Chinese hillside, Scotland’s main Royal Botanic Garden (there are four in total) has 27 heated glasshouses. The Queen Mother Memorial garden is the ultimate honour given to this historic, Caledonian crown of gardens. Just half an hour’s walk from Waverley station.
Chirk Castle and gardens
One of Wales’ most famous formal gardens, dating back to 1653, was revived in the 1940s by Lady Margaret Myddelton, who created a most colourful Cymru collection. Roses are a favourite here, although every season proffers gardening greats. The Myddelton family home and castle is not to be sniffed at. Just 0.5km from Chirk train station.
Image credits top to bottom: Banner image, with kind permission of Hestercombe, Chelsea Physic Garden, with kind permission of CPG, Monk's House with kind permission of National Trust and ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Sphere with Inner Form 1963 cast 1963, with kind permission of Tate ©Bowness, Anne Hathaway's cottage iStock ©AndyRoland, Osborne House, Isle of Wight, with kind permission and ©English Heritage, Iford Manor, with kind permission and ©Iford Manor, Botanic Gardens Edinburgh Wikipedia Commons ©Ham, Chirk Castle iStock ©AlasdairJames
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