Sunday, 25 May 2014

Special Offers - No. 1

Discounts have been arriving via the 'in-box' containing bargains that read me like a book.  No! not a 50% reduction on a Gucci handbag nor even a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, but for me, irresistible visits. A buy one get one free offer came for the Abbey House Gardens, Malmesbury. I last visited about 17 years ago soon after the owners first opened their gates to the public. It is a veritable Garden of Eden, transformed by the infamous 'naked gardeners'!
However, immediately upon purchasing the vouchers, I discovered that all is not well in paradise - the owners are splitting up and going their separate ways, the house and gardens are going on the market. Our intention had been to go later in the season but armed with this new information it seemed prudent to visit post haste.
Abbey House Garden
Abbey House dates from the 16th century but was built on 13th century foundations. However, there is evidence of a house on the site as early as the 11th century. The current house was extended substantially during the Tudor period by a local clothier, William Stumpe, who bought the house from Henry Vlll. 
The gardens created from scratch during the last 20 years are overlooked by the ruins of  Malmesbury Abbey, a benedictine monastery. The original house is  thought to have once been the home of the Abbot.
This Saxon arch may have marked the entrance to the Abbot's house from the abbey. If this ancient arch stood in my garden the ivy would be taken off to reveal and expose the lovely stonework.
The garden design compliments and celebrates the history of the site. The knot garden features a Celtic cross, the herb garden replicates a description given in a 9th century monastic poem, and the stew pond is a reminder that the monks would keep fish in a holding tank near the kitchens to await Friday's meal. In the garden handout no description was given concerning the clipped head. I view it as a Benedictine Monk wearing his hood - H sees it as representing the Green Man!
 Herb Garden
 Walking under the arches of laburnum and sweetly scented wisteria leads to several steep pathways that head off down to the river at the rear of the house
A footbridge crosses the River Avon not to be confused with the river of the same name running through Stratford-on-Avon
The timeless River Avon gently meandering and merrily gurgling as it flows along the bottom of the garden making its journey to the mighty Bristol Channel courtesy the Avon Gorge 
This waterfall was made from the spoils of digging out several ponds and has been created since my last visit 
There is much more to this garden than I have shown. If you want to visit 'Paradise (almost) Lost' then this could be the last year that it is open to the public. The intention is to keep the garden open daily for the rest of the season until the last day of October. On the other hand if you have a few million pounds to spare, you might like to become the owner of this historic house once owned by King Henry Vlll and its special garden.

76 comments:

  1. Dear Rosemary,
    I will start to buy shares - maybe in September I might be a millionaire and can buy this lovely garden? Though, if one is a more prudent person, one might just travel up there, and, as "Hans im Glück", the fairy tale person who exchanged his gold so often till he had only a stone, which dropped into a deep well, and then he cried: How lucky I am - I'm free!" one might enjoy the garden - without the work - just like that... :-)

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    1. Dear Britta - you have hit the nail on the head - so much easier to have the freedom to visit and admire rather than carry out all the hard work. There are 5 acres of garden and I understand that it takes 22 people to help and maintain it, but if you wish to admire then it might be necessary to visit soon!!!

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  2. What a garden. Top.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. It is a very special garden in this corner of the Cotswolds.

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  3. How sad to see that this lovely garden may not be open to the public soon. The topiary is incredible especially the clipped head. I'm glad you managed to visit it an share these pictures with us. It looks from your title that you have some more special offers to share too!. Sarah x

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    1. Yes, you are right Sarah. In the past two weeks three offers have arrived that I could not refuse. The other two we shall take as the summer progresses. They are not gardens, all will be revealed when we have been.

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  4. Now I know why I am failing to keep up. My garden is only half the size, but there is only me..
    It is gorgeous, it reminds me in some ways of Barnsley House, Rosemary Verey's garden. Have you visited that one?

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    1. Yes, her garden is very near to me. H and I met her shortly before she died. She was influential in helping us in our garden by giving us advice, and also offering us the use of her huge stack of compost.

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  5. Dear Rosemare,what a beutiful house !!The gardens are gorgeous!Your pictures are wonderful as always!
    I find the story of the house,very interesting!!Have a lovely day!
    Dimi...

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    1. Thanks Dimi - so pleased that you enjoyed seeing this beautiful garden and enjoyed reading about the house.

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  6. I've concluded you have the best garden tours in all of bogland!! This one is lovely, Rosemary. I agree about the ivy on the arch. And the head; hmmm not sure about that!

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    1. That is very generous of you Loi, but I equally enjoy the beautifully presented gardens that you show us from time to time - did you really mean bogland? Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize Poet for Literature, wrote a wonderful poem called Bogland.

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    2. Ooops :) blogland. As for bogland.....might make for a good garden post!

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  7. This is a wonderful garden, Rosemary. I don't know the story of the naked gardeners, but somehow I can imagine them among all this lush and sumptuous greenery! Gorgeous hedges and topiaries, and beautiful arches, not to mention the old ruins which add so much character. I do hope the garden is maintained by a new owner.

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    1. Dear Patricia - I would expect the purchaser of the property would want to maintain the garden - I equate it to a piece of living sculpture.
      On the day we visited there was no sign of the lady, but himself was in the garden weeding. As I came through the Saxon arch all I could in the corner of the walled garden was a rear view 'in the buff'. I took the photo of the arch, eyes averted, and quickly went on my way.

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  8. Thank you for the delightful tour of the garden Rosemary. What an amazing place, pity my funds won't stretch that far. Mind you if they did I would have been tempted nearer to home with a local country estate up for sale, Tickerage Mill, once owned by Vivien Leigh.

    Jean x

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    1. I suspect that it is several million pounds Jean - the house prices in this country are ludicrous - the youngsters do not stand a chance of getting their feet on the ladder.

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  9. Dear Rosemary,

    I am a huge fan of topiary work, and it gave me pleasure to see the great juxtaposition of spheres and pyramids in the garden. And I like the look of the Green Man. Were he a monk, I would have been tempted to clip a tonsure!

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    1. Dear Mark - if a tonsure had been clipped that would have given a much clearer indication as to his identification.

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  10. That is a magical home Rosemary. Lovely garden. Must take a lot of keeping and you were so lucky to see it before it's sold. I bet it brings one heft price.

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    1. It is bound to be several million pounds Margaret - the house has 12 bedrooms.

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  11. Do you think that all of your followers and mine - and any we can gather from our friends - could pool our resources and buy shares? We could make it a rather exclusive retreat for bloggers. Count me in!

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    1. I'm in too, as long as the monthly naturism day is dispensed with!!!

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  12. Hello Rosemary, I guess I just cannot like whimsically-shaped topiary, but the rest of these photos more than make up for that! However, once I saw that section of the Avon River, I knew what would be the irresistible draw for me. This is such a beautiful spot; I hope that the new owners will preserve its tranquility.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - The trees leading down to the river showed a great diversity in leaf colour which looked stunning as the sun filtered through the them.

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  13. A spectacular place, and Pondside got a great idea :-))

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    1. I wonder if her idea could take off?

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  14. I heard that this couple were having problems - I just hope the new owners appreciate this lovely garden and look after it. The house and garden go so well together - naked or not.

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    1. Apparently they have been together for 32 years, but only got married 5 years ago.
      I would imagine that anyone who was attracted to the house would also be taken with the garden, but of course, that isn't necessarily the case.

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  15. Beautiful, beautiful garden Rosemary! I really have to come to the UK once and visit gardens, I have to, probably won't be this year so I hope that anyone who buys this property will take care of the garden and open it for visitors in future years. It is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
    Marian

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    1. Even if it is not open, as it is at the moment, on a daily basis, because the garden is so well known it will probably be open for a few days each year, but it all depends on the new owners of course.

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  16. What an interesting tour of this garden. They must be hardier that I am - the shortest trip into my little garden requires wellies and long sleeves or I'm bitten by every midge and mosquito around, with very itchy consequences.

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    1. I have the same problem Nilly - we must smell too attractive to them.

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  17. Perfectly wonderful! Since I won't be in England this year, I'm glad I saw it through your lens.

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    1. Dear Marian - thank you for your visit, and kind comment, I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the Abbey Gardens here in the Cotswolds.

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  18. "Sold"- What a magnificent mansion.
    Stunningly beautiful garden and its topiary.
    The green man, gosh how high he is. Imagine all the work that goes into keeping this wonderful home.
    Thank you so much Rosemary for introducing me to this magical place.
    I indeed enjoyed this post and the tour, and your photos .idilic
    val x

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    1. Dear Val - it is a wonderful garden, little areas to suit everyone whether you prefer the formal or the more naturalistic. A great garden to photograph. Really delighted that you enjoyed seeing it.

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  19. How sad that they are selling up and splitting up, I hope that the garden is kept up and kept open at least sometimes by the new owners as it would be a shame if it were lost as there has been a massive amount of work put into this garden. Your pictures are beautiful by the way! xx

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    1. I should imagine that anyone who buys the property will be a garden lover too. As the property will require lots of money to buy, no doubt the new owners will have plenty to spare with which to maintain it.

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  20. One can dream about owning such a garden! It's 'my' sort of place with the medieval/naturalistic style in keeping with the period property and history of the area. Glad you could visit and share with us before it's sold later in the year.

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    1. I haven't actually seen the property on the market as yet, who knows may be they will decide to try and make their marriage work.
      The garden may continue to be open but there are not guarantees.

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  21. Hello Rosemary,

    Abbey Gardens is indeed a marvellous garden or, rather, sequence of gardens, as there are so many different garden rooms to explore there. It is a fascinating combination of the formal and informal with a fabulous plant collection.

    We visited many years ago now but did catch sight of the naked gardeners amongst the shrubberies!

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - I met the lady a long time ago when I organised a trip for our Fine Art Society to the gardens - she was very charming. Last week I spotted his rear view whilst weeding in the corner of the walled garden, but decided to make a very quick exit.

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  22. Oh my God, I'd never heard of those naked gardeners and at first I thought it was you in the first picture ! Your photos just represent for me the epitome of English houses and gardens. A calm, noble, ancient environment with unexpected little bits of excentricity here and there. Perfection !

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    1. Oh là là - I am chuckling away to myself here Silver Bunny to think that you thought it was me!

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  23. Sounds like it's a hurry up and visit in case the new owners don't allow the public in.

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    1. Thats right Elizabeth - it could be the end of the road for the public and it will also be a huge financial loss to Malmesbury itself. The gardens bring visitors to the town from all over the world.

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  24. What a beautiful house and garden...stunning! The history is so interesting and you take magic pictures!
    Have a sunny and warm week Rosemary.
    Love Titti

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    1. Dear Titti - What a very generous comment . I take that as a real compliment coming from someone whose photos I admire so much - thank you.

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  25. I would really love to see this garden. And how sad that the owners are splitting. Surely the garden is listed - at least, I hope so. Oh dear I am worried now, imagining some rich moron buying it and messing it up. A real labour of love to look after it, for sure. I will look up the website and try to incoporate it into any trips I make in the Wilts direction.

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    1. It isn't listed Jenny, the house will be, but the garden itself was made during the past 20 years. If you are heading along the M4, turn off at junction 17, it is not far.

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  26. What a fab place to visit! Thank you for the tour and information and wonderful photos. I do hope the new owners will keep it going as it is.
    P.S: Hubs is still having ops and treatment :(

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    1. Thanks for your kind comment, but really sorry to learn that your husband is still being put through the mill.

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  27. What a paradise, Rosemary. How can anyone bear to leave it? Oh well, needs must, I suppose. Maybe being naked all the time just got to be too much of a chore. After all, there is such a thing as knowing too much about the other person. Who knows? One can never tell what goes on in people's lives. It just seems too bad that the house and garden may not be available in future to the public. But thank you Rosemary, for sharing these wonderful photos of a truly magical place.

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    1. It is a pity that the garden may become private, but that is not necessarily the case. Glad that you enjoyed seeing it Yvette.

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  28. It is sad to think that this amazing place is not enough to hold this couple together.
    The arching laburnum is a lovely way to display its pendulous racemes of yellow flowers. They look very much like the cassia fistulas around here. I wonder whether they are the same. Elsewhere the topiaries are very well maintained and artfully planted.

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    1. The laburnum has bright yellow pea like flowers which are very similar to those of the wisteria. I have looked on Google, my ever helpful friend, and it is a distant relative of your cassia fistulas.

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  29. What fantastic gardens! Ah well, more of us will have to get naked and get gardening.....

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    1. You can always join in with them on their monthly clothes free day!!!
      P.S As I am not on Google +, I find that I am unable to comment on your blog.

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  30. Now you tell me it's on the market! I would have never started construction on the one we are building! Just kidding of course. Not exactly the zero property line ...lock it and leave it we were looking for!

    Sorry they are splitting. Hopefully the new owner will have an excellent grounds keeper.

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    1. The house and garden is a full time job for the owners, and they employ gardeners as well.

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  31. Hello Rosemary ,it's a long time since I commented on your blog, but I have been enjoying reading it and seeing how you have pressented these beautiful gardens .I hope that I will be back at this lovely blog !

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    1. Dear Olympia - I do hope all is well with you - it is lovely to see you are back. Glad that you have enjoyed seeing these beautiful gardens.

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  32. What a lovely house and truly glorious gardens! Thank you so much for taking so many beautiful photos of them, Rosemary. It seems such a shame that they are now to be sold and may be lost to the public. It must be heartbreaking for the owners to have to leave something they have created from scratch.

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    1. Dear Perpetua - I do understand that to be the case, he has said he is, but can't afford to buy his wife out.
      I am just heading out and will be back late, but will respond to your other comments tomorrow♡

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  33. Beautiful but I cannot get past these naked gardeners. To think of the insect bites!

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    1. The insects like to nip me too Olive - I should think that their skin is pretty tough and brown after exposing it to the elements for so long.

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  34. I love Abbey House Gardens Rosemary, as you may remember me blogging so fondly of my visit a year or so ago when we arrived on a mainly nudist day. It is very sad indeed to learn of the fragmentation of its designers and that it may be sold. Lets hope the buyers do not dispense with the magic or close its doors to the hoards of loving fans as is happening with so many beautiful gardens. Based on the Pollock's alternative way of living I always imagined the topiary form to be that of a Satyr, Faun or horny devil.
    Through pure coincidence, a client of ours recently told us that a Egyptian inspired building that houses a branch of B&Q in Kensington that Ian built some years ago is due to be knocked down to be replaced by modern apartments.
    Your photographs as always are a joy to view Rosemary. Thank you for sharing. Paul :)

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    1. I must correct my previous comment, it is in fact the Kensington/ Earls Court branch of Homebase and "interesting" is a great word to use to describe it. Imagine 18ft foot high Egyptian gods brandishing power tools carved in relief on the exterior of the building and you're there!
      He built it back in the 80s so I image he would have completed countless projects since perhaps without so many deities.

      I must also confirm I did not participate in nudist day at Abbey House but it didn't pose a problem for me, once you've seen one, you've seen them all.

      I did save my readers from having to look at wobbly bits whilst viewing my blog images though Rosemary but I'm considerate like that:)

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    2. I have just found it on Google Maps, couldn't see any Egyptian gods, but certainly saw an impressive pillared portico for a Homebase shop.

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    3. A horny devil - I need to ponder! I do remember your lovely post from Abbey House gardens, but did not realise that you had been on one of their monthly nudist days. Himself was in the corner of the garden near the Saxon arch, and all I could see was his back view weeding.
      I knew that he was a property developer but had imagined that he did up old properties for some reason. An Egyptian inspired B & Q sounds interesting.

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  35. P.S. Shall we all scratch around and check down the back of the sofa for loose change, collate all our cash and buy up Abbey House?

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    1. Someone else suggested that - a bloggers retreat.

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  36. Such a beautiful garden. Thank you for the gorgeous photos, Rosemary !

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    1. Thank you Dani - glad you enjoyed the photos - it is a very special garden.

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