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10 Best Historic Gardens in Britain

Posted: 2010-12-06

10 Best Historic Gardens in Britain

No, this isn't some new award dreamed up by a tourist association PR firm, but rather, my own picks as the cream of the crop among historic gardens around the UK. I'm an unabashed admirer of the English landscape garden movement in the 18th century, so you will see some of those in my list, but there may be a few surprises, too, with several lesser-known gardens making the final cut. And, of course, several of these gardens were designed as a setting for stately homes, but for the purposes of this 10 Best list, I'll omit the house from my very personal, and no doubt eccentric, ranking criteria.

And, as with most of my 'best' lists, these are places I have personally enjoyed, so there may well be fabulous historic gardens that should be on this list, but I haven't had a chance to visit yet!

With all that out of the way, here are my 10 Best Historic Gardens in Britain:

  1. Stourhead, Stourton, Wiltshire - If you love landscape gardens as I do, Stourhead is perfection. My top choice among historic British gardens.
  2. Stowe Landscape Garden, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire - A wonderful landscape of classical temples, sinuous curving lines, and marvelous vistas
  3. Castle Howard, York, Yorkshire - Opulent, almost overwhelming classical gardens; a beautiful landscape setting off one of my favourite historic houses
  4. Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire - The essential beauty of this classical garden can seem overwhelmed by the sheer number of visitors, but it is well worth seeing
  5. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire - A mix of rigourously formal and relaxing informal landscapes surounding the opulent stately home
  6. Anglesey Abbey, Lode, Cambridgeshire - Perhaps not as well known as others on this list, the historic manor of Anglesey Abbey is surrounded by wonderful gardens notable for striking colour themes
  7. Forde Abbey, Chard, Dorset - A fabulous mix of formal and inforemal with lovely water features surrounding a medieval abbey rebuilt as a stately home
  8. Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent - Anne Boleyn's childhood home is set in fabulous Italianate gardens augmented with a famous hedge maze
  9. Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Highlands - Due to its relatively remote setting on the north east coast of Scotland, Dunrobin gets fewer visitors than other gardens on this list, but when its a bright day and the flowers are in bloom this can be a magical place
  10. Erddig House, Wrexham, Clwyd - Wonderful formal gardens with several water features make Erddig a delight

Garden Visit - Worldwide gardens, with a very strong UK base of information
Great British Gardens - just what it says on the tin
Britain's Finest - the garden section of this very informative and easy to use website
Gardens in England - our gazetteer
Gardens in Scotland - our gazetteer
Gardens in Wales - um, you guessed it, our gazetteer!

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