Elsham Hall Gardens
Elsham Hall Gardens

A late 18th century 4-acre park with striking lakeside gardens surround historic Elsham Hall. Within the park are a medieval carp pond and wildflower gardens, with a variety of family activities, including a falconry centre, craft centre, playground, and children's zoo.

The garden began as a private garden planted with fruit, vegetables and flowers for Elsham Hall. What we see now is a modern garden based on the original 18th-century site, reusing the walled garden and the lakes. The garden boasts colourful spring bulbs and lush displays of wildflowers in summer.

History

Very little is known about the first Elsham Hall, but there was a house here in the 17th century. In 1760 that house was transformed by William Thompson and his heir Robert Thompson. From 1800-1814 a girls' boarding school occupied the Hall and in 1925 it was sold by the Astley family to King's College, Cambridge. The College sold it to the Elwes family just six years later and the Elwes family still own the property.

The long walk border across Trout Lake
The long walk border across Trout Lake

In 1970 Captain Jeremy Elwes and his wife Clare opened the estate to the public as a country park with the vision of promoting 'enjoyment of the countryside and wildlife and an appreciation of the arts and rural crafts'. To that end the park caters to local schools, offering a place for children to experience nature and rural life.

The Hall is not open to the public but you can easily enjoy views from the eastern end of the lakes.

A sensory garden provides wonderful colours and scents, and a viewing mound gives excellent views over the variety of garden areas. Children will enjoy the guinea pig village and the paddock for little brown sheep. There is a sculpture garden area, and masses of wildflowers and bulbs in season.

The traditional 'hud and stud' thatched cottage
The traditional 'hud and stud' thatched cottage

Medieval Lakes

The garden is centred around a medieval carp lake. There is a feeding platform at the edge of the lake and you can purchase carp food at the park visitor centre. The carp lake links to a larger lake stocked with trout.

On the north side of the Trout Lake runs a long walk, with beautiful borders backing onto a brick wall. The wall encloses the modern walled garden, where peacocks wander amid the garden beds.

A path leads from the west wall of the walled garden to a Secret Garden area and then on to a Wild Butterfly Garden, where a boardwalk takes you through an area planted with species that encourage butterflies in summer. From the Butterfly Garden, a trail leads further to a small pond with a bird hide. There are feeders beyond the bird hide so if you sit still you will see local species of birds coming to feed.

On the east side of the walled garden a trail leads to a traditional 'hud and stud' thatched cottage, made using traditional tools and materials.

18th-century Elsham Hall
18th-century Elsham Hall

Visiting

We visited Elsham Hall Gardens on a lovely day in late summer. The visitor centre was bustling as a wedding was taking place. Indeed, it seemed to us that weddings and events centred on the historic stable block were the main focus, rather than the gardens. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful wander along the lakeside paths, enjoying the colourful borders outside the walled garden.

There are lovely, quiet corners in the garden, full of colour to enjoy, and the traditional thatched cottage was an unexpected delight. We could go inside the cottage and see up close how it was constructed. Families will probably get more out of the walled garden.

Beware if you use the postcode for your satnav. Our satnav tried to send us to the private entrance to Elsham Hall from the village. It was only after much trial and error that we discovered the main entrance on the B1206, the road between Elsham and Brig.