Helmingham Hall
Helmingham Hall

At Helmingham Hall a Saxon moat surrounds a historic garden of great variety. Within the bounds of the moat is a Victorian parterre of box edged with colourful borders. There are an Elizabethan walled kitchen garden and herbaceous borders, with herb and rose gardens to enjoy. Beyond the formal gardens is open parkland, sprinkled with ancient oaks, through which deer wander.
The west face of Helmingham Hall
The west face of Helmingham Hall

The Tollemache family has owned the Helmingham estate for over 500 years. The family name loosely translates as 'purse bearer', and that is exactly the post that a certain Hugh Tollemache fulfilled for Henry I. The original Tollemache estate was at Bentley, but in 1487 John Tollemache married Elizabeth Joyce, heiress to Helmingham, and the family made Helmingham their seat.

John pulled down the old Joyce family hall and built the first Helmingham Hall, which was completed around 1510. The garden enclosure was already in existence at that time; indeed the basic layout possibly dates to the Saxon period.

However, we really owe the present gardens at Helmingham to Xa, Lady Tollemache, who came here in 1975. With the aide of the head gardener, Roy Balaam, she learned gardening from scratch and launched a successful career as one of Britain's leading garden designers.

Though she has designed award-winning gardens for other stately homes in Britain, including Wilton House and Cholmondeley Castle, it is here at Helmingham that she has created her masterpiece, a superb blend of formal and informal gardens, full of colour, against the backdrop of the Tollemache's picturesque moated home.

To the west of the house is the parterre and Hybrid Musk Garden. Surrounding the parterre is a rose garden edged with lavender. Other garden areas include a Spring border and late summer border, grass borders, shrub borders, and annual borders, in addition to an apple tree walk, knot garden, and orchard.

Taken as a whole and considering the backdrop of the historic moated manor, and the long history of the site it is hard to imagine a more satisfying historic garden that Helmingham. We came on a sunny day in June and absolutely loved our visit. We cant wait to return.