Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset, TA2 8LG
Telephone: 01823 413923
Review by Bella D'Arcy Reed - February 2011
Photographs by BDR
I have been visiting Hestercombe for some years - from walking through the idyllic Jekyll/Lutyens garden and all around the Landscape area before it was fully restored to motor-scooting where I could. I have a passion for the J/L garden, and tend to scooter to a place then walk with a stick round the Great Plat so I can go down the steps to the centre.
From the car park you wheel up to the area where there is a café, courtyard and shop. the courtyard is accessible and you can action food with some help - likewise plants and other shopping. To get into the gardens, you need to go up to the booking office on a lift - which is scary the first time, but ok when you are used to it. This will take you on a pathway past the back of the house to the lake and into the 'Dutch' garden ( below). There is a path through the landscape garden, unlike a lot of 18th century 'landscape' gardens. this is not flat but sloping with focal points throughout . Rather a mixture of 'sublime' ( garden history term for rock landscape with waterfalls) and 'picturesque' (garden history term for gardens which make a 'picture' ie have a far distance, a middle distance and a near view - (Jane Austen talks about it in Northanger Abbey) gardens. But I have not yet tried this on a scooter so cannot tell you how it is. I have managed a bit of it with a stick.
When you get to the 'Dutch' garden on wheels, you are stymied! There is a large flight of steps down to the law and conservatory; you have to go back and enter the Jekyll garden from outside the house, and as I say get so far and no further. the lovely arches and pools can only be got to with a stick.
None of this is the fault of the gardens - it is the 'fault' of the original designers and clients. The Edwardian passion for Italianate gardens does not take scooters (or even bath or sedan chairs) into account! I should know as I have written about the Italian and Edwardian gardens (see slideshow) and I have the same trouble in Italy! However, it relay is a most romantic garden and you should go - it is my favourite in the UK.
You can buy the following books directly from www.gardensandpeople.co.uk:
• Garden of Divine Imitation:
A design timeline from the Renaissance to the Edwardian era via Ancient
by Bella D'Arcy.
£10.00 + P & P (£3.00)
Contains a long chapter on Hestercombe.
Chilkwell Street, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 8DD
Telephone: 01458 831154
Review by Pamela Boram - February 2011
Limited disabled parking slots off road at the entrance.
A peaceful, special, compact garden and although some parts are inaccessible, it's worth a visit.
Although the water was directly inaccessible to my friend in a wheelchair, it could still be sprinkled over or drunk. Take an empty bottle for this purpose. To me you can get near enough the Well itself.
The Gift Shop is not accessible to wheelchairs.