This garden tour is based at The Arundel House Hotel, Chesterton Road, Cambridge for the first three days allowing us to explore the gardens, ancient buildings and countryside in and close to the city. On the third evening, after visiting a village of open gardens, we take up residence at The Bedingfeld Arms situated on the Green in the pretty village of Oxborough in Norfolk where we stay for the next 3 nights. While here we visit the National Trust owned Oxburgh Hall at Oxborough and Wimpole Hall beyond Cambridge. We also explore some private gardens including Hale Hall, Hythe Cottage (belonging to Barbara) and the impressive gardens at East Ruston Old Vicarage begun in the 1980s. This garden tour ends at Norwich railway station which has an hourly service to London. The Pepys Library, Cambridge (photo Cindy McGregor)
The price of this tour is £1390. This covers B&B for five nights in double or twin bedded rooms but not evening meal; all transport; garden entrance and personal guiding through out. Evening meals can be arranged for an extra price.
Flora’s small group tours typically have 5-7 of us in a comfortable 8 seater vehicle. Dr Sommerville plans and guides all tours, enthusiastically describing the plants, scenery and architecture which we encounter.
Members of the National Trust or the Royal Oak Foundation are eligible for a 5% discount on the advertised price of this tour.
The tour will start from The Arundel House Hotel, Chesterton Road, Cambridge at 11.30am. Barbara will meet you there and we shall walk across Jesus Green to Jesus College garden. We shall lunch at deconsecrated church Michaelhouse in the centre of collegiate Cambridge and afterwards visit King’s College Chapel and the fellows’ garden at Clare College. We shall then have a chauffeured punt trip along the River Cam which is an excellently lazy way to view the college ‘backs’, providing the weather is clement. Please bring a straw hat if you have one and a bottle of wine is traditional. We shall have glasses and a cork screw on board. A jacket is good because it can be chilly on the river. We shall drive or walk along the river to Granchester which is a quaint village associated with the poet Rupert Brooke and his Edwardian friends. Jeffery and Mary Archer now live in the Old Vicarage in which Brooke used to have tea “And is there honey still for tea?” he wondered sitting in a Berlin pub at the outbreak of the first World War. There is a little museum dedicated to the academics and literati who have had tea in the Orchard Tea Garden and we shall follow suit before returning to Arundel House. This might be a good opportunity to go to Evensong in one of the College Chapels―perhaps St. John’s, Kings or Trinity or go to a concert.
Barbara will meet you at Arundel House at 9.30am and we shall walk a short distance to visit the garden of Magdalene College and the Pepys Library there. Crossing the road to the old timbered coaching inn which in former times sported a brothel upstairs but now belongs to Magdalene College, we shall walk into St. John’s College grounds and on into Trinity College. We shall have an early lunch at the Granta pub and at 1.30pm drive to visit the fine gardens of Tudor Madingley Hall which is the University Department of Continuing Education. We shall have tea in the village of Shepreth and there visit Docwra Manor and the diminuative Crossing House Garden. We should be back at Arundel House, by 6pm. St John’s College and River Cam
Having packed our bags, those that wish may go to a morning service in a college chapel or Great St. Marys, the University church. We shall walk or drive to the University Botanic Garden which opens at 10am and have an early lunch there. At 1.30 our driver will have collected the luggage from Arundel House and will pick us up at the Botanic garden to visit a whole village of gardens open for charity―probably as many as 10 gardens will be open on the National Garden Scheme. There will be excellent home made teas available and about 6pm we shall reach the Bedingfeld Arms situated on the Green in the pretty village of Oxborough in Norfolk where we shall stay for the next 3 nights.
We leave the Arms at 9.30 am to visit Goodestone Water Gardens and then on to Jan and Stuart Waterstone’s beautiful garden at Fincham where we have coffee. We shall lunch at the historic village of Castle Acre which has the remains of a Norman castle at one end and a priory at the other. In the afternoon we visit the 15C moated manor belonging to the National Trust, Oxburgh Hall in Oxborough, for tea. We are now next door to the Bedingfeld Arms which is named after the family who built the Hall in 1480 and still live in part of it.
There will be a tour of Barbara’s 1 acre garden at Hythe Cottage, Oxborough, and an optional power point talk “A brief history of English gardens” at 6.30pm then back to the Bedingfeld Arms for dinner.
Our driver will collect us from the Bedingfeld Arms at 9am to visit Holme Hale Hall which has a Georgian house and dovecote set in a garden designed by the Chelsea award winning Arne Maynard. We shall then drive to the National Trust owned Wimpole Hall with its magnificent Georgian house, historic parterre garden, large walled garden and home farm with rare breeds of domestic animals, where we have tea. We shall arrive back in Oxborough at Hythe Cottage about 6.30pm for drinks and a short talk on “Good Garden Design” then back to the Bedingfeld Arms for dinner.
We shall leave the Arms with our luggage at 9.30am and go to see the walled garden and excellent small nursery at West Acre Garden. We shall then drive to East Ruston near the coast where we shall have an early pub lunch in The Butchers’ Arms ready to spend the afternoon at the Old Vicarage gardens which open at 1.30pm. There are 20 acres of quite exceptional gardens designed from the 1980s onwards by Alan Gray and Graham Robeson which have received a lot of television coverage. There are a range of gardens, Dutch, Mediterranean and a sunken garden with a large pergola and fountain and others. There is also a delightful tea shop and a good nursery.
This garden tour will end at Norwich railway station at about 5.30pm. There is an hourly service to London which takes two hours to reach Liverpool Street station.
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