Long canals create lovely walkways through Fairhaven Garden
Long canals create lovely walkways through Fairhaven Garden

Fairhaven Garden is the creation of the 2nd Lord Fairhaven, who purchased part of the South Walsham Estate in 1946. The house (not open to the public) was used by the military as a convalescent home, while the Home Guard used the water garden as a training ground.

In the aftermath of the war, the estate needed major restoration; there was barbed wire in the broad, and tanks in the garden. Lord Fairhaven was a keen gardener, and after restoring the house to a habitable state he cleared the tangled jungle and laid out a water garden, with profuse plantings of water-loving plants like Candelabra Primula. He also imported plants from around the globe, such as Skunk Cabbage and Camelias from the Himalayas.

Lord Fairhaven wanted the public to be able to enjoy his creation, so he left this lovely garden estate in trust in 1973. The gardens stretch to 131 acres, including a private broad, ancient woodland walks, and peaceful water gardens.

Fairhaven is replete with bog loving flowering plants
Fairhaven is replete with
bog loving flowering plants

Fairhaven is best known for its collection of candelabra primulas. The best time to see the primulas is in late Spring, but the gardens are also well worth visiting in late autumn when the Autumn colours are at their best. In Summer the flowering plants encourage an abundance of dragonflies and butterflies.

The garden encourages shade and water-loving plants. The water canals leading to the private broad are crossed by 15 small footbridges, joined by shady walks. The overall effect is one of peace and natural beauty. There are four miles of woodland trails, many following the course of sinuous canals.

Among the many ancient trees is the King Oak, thought to be over 950 years old. The garden is managed on organic principles, using traditional woodland practices such as coppicing to minimize the impact on local wildlife and fauna.

There are a special sensory garden and a bird hide for visitors with limited mobility.

Perhaps the most popular feature at Fairhaven are boat trips on the private broad, available from April-October. There are 2 boat trips available; short trips touring the broad, and longer trips taking in the historic ruins of St Benets Abbey.

I've had the pleasure of visiting Fairhaven Gardens three times, and each time I've been struck by its quiet beauty. The canals are simply stunning in summer when sunlight filters through the trees and the primulas are in full bloom. I love Fairhaven, and if you take the time to explore it I'm sure you'll agree that it is a superb garden and one of the most enjoyable attractions in Norfolk.

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About Fairhaven Garden
Address: School Road, South Walsham, East Anglia, Norfolk, England, NR13 6DZ
Attraction Type: Garden
Location: Signposted off the A47 at South Walsham, 9 miles east of Norwich
Website: Fairhaven Garden
Fairhaven Garden Trust
Location map
OS: TG372133
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

South Walsham, St Lawrence Church - 0.4 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

South Walsham, St Mary's Church - 0.4 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Ranworth, St Helen's Church - 1.3 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Panxworth Church Tower - 1.5 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

St Benet's Abbey - 1.6 miles (Abbey) Heritage Rating

Hemblington, All Saints Church - 1.6 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Horning, St Benedict's Church - 2.3 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Thurne Dyke Drainage Mill - 2.4 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

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