Having heard so much about the gardens at Hestercombe, I was looking forward to seeing them for myself – I was not disappointed. It’s a garden of two halves so make sure you leave enough time to walk up to the eighteenth century gardens above the house with the lake and garden buildings and the twentieth century terrace below the house with the stunning backdrop of the Vale of Taunton Dean.
Hestercombe is near the village of Cheddon Fitzpaine and is only a few miles outside the town of Taunton. Follow the daisy signs from J25 of the M5.
Begin by exploring the eighteenth century garden by walking past the Mill Pond
and up the path to the pear shaped lake.
From here, there are lots of different paths to take but make sure you don’t miss any of the garden buildings that are dotted around the landscape.
Coplestone Warre Bamfylde inherited Hestercombe in 1750 and created this part of the garden; one of his friends was Henry Hoare of Stourhead. Bampfylde’s idea was that visitors would wander around the gardens and enjoy ‘framed views’ of the landscape as well as suddenly coming across garden buildings of all different styles. There are also lots of places to sit and enjoy the views!
Now walk back towards the house and the second half of the garden that was created in the twentieth century.
In 1872 the Estate was sold to 1st Viscount Portman and he commissioned Edwin Lutyens to design a Formal Garden with planting schemes by Gertrude Jekyll.
The Great Plat stretches out in front of the house and is enclosed on three sides by walls and on the fourth side by a pergola; beyond are views over the Vale of Taunton Dean. Again there are plenty of seats to sit and enjoy the gardens.
The Hestercombe Gardens Trust now owns the estate and in 2003 they began an exciting restoration project. There’s also a cafe here selling delicious food.