Eltham Palace and Gardens in London
A secluded haven of tranquility and a rural idyll in South London, Eltham Palace and Gardens boasts 19-acres of glorious grounds.
Containing a mix of rare elements of medieval and 1930s garden design, highlights include a sunken rose garden, terraced beds planted with seasonal bedding schemes, herbaceous borders, an extensive Westmorland limestone rockery and a moat planted with water lilies and stocked with carp.
The gardens offer year-round interest with highlights including a stunning display of colourful spring bulbs and a wisteria pergola, which provides the garden with an early summer wow factor.
[i] Eltham Palace and Gardens, Court Yard, Eltham, London SE9 5QE
Telephone: 0208 294 2548
The Home of Charles Darwin in Kent
At The Home of Charles Darwin near Orpington in Kent, groups can see the 18-acre estate much as it would have looked when it served as the scientist’s ‘outdoor laboratory’.
Several key experiments – including those on plants and insects in the garden and greenhouse that dominated Darwin’s life after publication of the On the Origin of Species – can be seen today. Inside his original greenhouse, groups can observe the carnivorous insect-eating Sundews, which Darwin fed with meat and even his own toenail clippings! There is also a glass-sided beehive, which allows visitors to watch honeybees building honeycomb as Darwin studied them.
A detailed handheld video tour of the garden, narrated by journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr, uses film clips and animation to give visitors a lively and interactive tour of the house and garden. The tour takes in a number of Darwin’s experiments recreated in the garden and fields surrounding Down House, where he observed the different varieties of plant and animal life, and formulated almost all of his most important theories.
Groups can also follow in Darwin’s footsteps along the Sandwalk – his famous ‘Thinking Path’ - and see the ‘worm stone’ that he used in over 17 years of experiments into the life of the earthworm.
[i] The Home of Charles Darwin, Down House, Luxted Road, Downe, Kent BR6 7JT
Telephone: 01689 859119
Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden in Warwickshire
Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester entertained Queen Elizabeth I right royally at Kenilworth Castle for 19 days, creating an amazing garden for her pleasure and lavish entertainments for her amusement.
Today, groups can get a real flavour of this Elizabethan flamboyance thanks to the recreation of Dudley’s stunning garden. Lost for centuries, English Heritage has faithfully recreated Dudley’s floral flourish using eyewitness accounts and archaeological evidence to present the most complete impression of an Elizabethan garden anywhere in the world.
Now maturing beautifully and in full fragrant bloom, the garden boasts a fountain, walks and flowerbeds dotted with obelisks and an elaborate ‘bejewelled’ aviary, where pheasants and canaries live regally in the shadow of the great castle. Pre-booked guided tours of the Elizabethan Gardens are available at a small additional charge to the normal admission fee.
[i] Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 1NG
Telephone: 01926 857482
Witley Court and Gardens in Worcestershire
Magnificent landscaped gardens surround the remains of this once glorious mansion, with the enormous and elaborate Perseus and Andromeda Fountain as its centrepiece. The grounds feature the restored East Parterre, with topiary and colourful planting, plus a chance to discover some of Witley’s wildlife with a stroll around the lakeside walk.
The best way to see Witley Court’s ruined house and grounds is to take a pre-booked behind-the-scenes tour. Available for groups for a small additional charge, tours are timed to end with the firing of the fountain as a finale. An additional charge applies.
[i] Witley Court and Gardens, Great Witley, Worcestershire WR6 6JT
Telephone: 01299 896636
Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in South Yorkshire
At Brodsworth Hall - one of the country’s most complete surviving examples of a Victorian country house – groups can see the gardens as they would have looked in the 1890s. The extensive grounds offer year-round interest including spectacular spring bulbs, scented summer roses and verdant winter evergreens. A three-tiered Italian marble ‘Dolphin Fountain’ is a centrepiece of lawns and colourful borders. There’s also a fern dell to discover, planted with rare and unusual specimens and an alpine garden inspired by the travels of the estate’s wealthy Victorian owners.
[i] Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, Brodsworth, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN5 7XJ
Telephone: 01302 722598
Groups of 11 or more people receive a 15% discount at all English Heritage properties (10% at Stonehenge). A tour leader and coach driver are admitted free with each group. Free familiarisation visits can be arranged for the travel trade. Special themed tours are available for pre-booked groups at many properties.
To discuss opportunities for group visits, or to order a complimentary copy of the 2016/17 Group Visits Guide, call 020 7973 3529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.