Muddy says: 50 acres of magnificent historic gardens and grounds spanning three centuries, with food, art, shopping and fun family events all year round
The 5o acres of gardens and grounds at Hestercombe Gardens in Cheddon Fitzpaine, just three milies outside Taunton, span three centuries and are truly magnificent. You can easily while away most of a day exploring them and there’s lots more on offer too.
The estate dates back to before medieval times but the existing Hestercombe House was built in the 18th century then remodelled and extended in the 19th. It was the HQ of the Somerset Fire Brigade (!) for 60 years before being sold for £1 to the Hestercombe Trust, responsible for restoring the estate, who opened it to the public in 2014.
Within the 50 acres, you’ll find a stunning Georgian landscape garden complete with lake, Gothic folly, classical temple and waterfall; a Victorian terrace with tree roses straight from pages of Alice in Wonderland; and a gorgeous Edwardian formal garden created by dynamic duo Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.
They run a brilliant programme of family events throughout the year – live outdoor theatre and music, BBQs, workshops, wild crafts and trails, holiday activities – and after hours punting, pizza and charcoal burning at their live ‘Summer Lates’.
There are contemporary art exhibitions centred on the relationship between art and the landscape in the Hestercombe Contemporary Art Gallery, a 17th century watermill complex and well-stocked gift shop, plant centre and second-hand bookshop.
Nosh on yummy homemade cakes, coffee and lunches (including Sunday roasts) and flip through a mag or two in the super relaxed Stables Kitchen Cafe, where dogs are welcome too.
Traditional English afternoon tea (with sparkling wine if you like) and weekend brunches in the elegant Column Room Restaurant in Hestercombe House, over looking the Victorian terrace.
Wed in the Lutyen’s Orangery or 17th century Bampfylde Hall and have the run of the entire estate.
Open every single day of the year, except Christmas Day.