National Trust start to re-open loveliest gardens

Scotney Castle, Kent is now open to visit (gardens only)

The National Trust has announced that from 3rd June it will begin a phased reopening of some of its gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland with advance bookings needed to limit visitor numbers and maintain public safety.

The first bookings opened today (29th May) and some have already sold out. The charity will release new bookings every Friday for visits the following week, and visitors can book up to 18 hours before a time slot.

Properties that have re-opened their gardens include Corfe Castle, Dorset; Lacock, Wiltshire; Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire; Cliveden, Buckinghamshire; Polesden Lacey, Surrey; Stowe, Buckinghamshire; Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent; Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire; Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester; Lyme, Cheshire and Castle Ward in County Down.

Gardens and open spaces in England and Northern Ireland will open to around a third of their normal capacity at any one time to maintain social distancing. All admission to gardens and parklands will be by pre-booked ticket only. Visitors arriving by car will be asked to show pre-booked tickets through their vehicle window before parking. Those arriving on foot will have bookings checked by a small team of staff who will adhere to social distancing. All the Trust’s houses, shops, holiday cottages and campsites will remain closed, as well as all car parks and properties in Wales (in line with Welsh Government guidance).

Tickets can be booked on individual property web pages, where further information on facilities can be found. They will be free for Trust members, and other visitors will pay an admission fee. More gardens will open in coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is re-opening its four gardens – Wisley, Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall and Rosemoor – on 1st June at 10am under a pre-booking system. Areas within the gardens where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, such as glasshouses, alpine houses, bird hides and play areas, remain closed, but there will be toilet facilities – so that’s a relief! As with the National Trust, booking for the gardens can be made on their website.