Having visited the Tourism & Destinations Show held at Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire this April, GTO Philip Jones was inspired to take his Ravenshead U3A Local History Group back for an historic gardens tour. Since the 16 members of the group lived not too far away, and they were a small number, they opted to travel by car. Philip says, “I chose Newstead Abbey because of its impressive Grade II* listed gardens.”
A knowledgeable volunteer guide led a tour lasting just over an hour, and the group learnt how the present formal gardens were designed and laid out in Victorian times under the ownership of Colonel Thomas Wildman, and later by William Frederick Webb. Philip adds, “Although the tour was not primarily about the plants, we were impressed by the vibrant colours and scents of the flowers in the herbaceous borders.” The group also learnt about the main features of the gardens and tea was available in the Abbey café after the tour.
Philip comments that it is the first year the historic gardens tours have been run regularly, and so far they have been free, but this may change in 2016. He says, “The tours are available all year round and will appeal to members of gardening clubs as well as history societies.”
A maximum of 20 people are permitted on each garden tour, but Philip notes that larger groups can be split, so one half does a house tour whilst the other does the garden tour, and then swaps over.