Bideford, North Devon. EX39 6DT. UK.
Tel:+44 (0)1237 441264/234 Fax:+44(0)1237 441264 E-mail: hartland+abbey
Hartland Abbey lies across a narrow,
sheltered valley which winds its way to the spectacular Atlantic
Coast only a mile away. Within a designated ‘Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty’ visitors may wander freely around the beautiful
gardens and grounds which lead to the rocky cove. Peacocks and
bantams roam at will whilst donkeys and Black Welsh Mountain
sheep graze the Old Deer Park.
Abbey is the lived-in family home of the Stucley family. Although
it was built in the 12th century, remaining as a monastery for
400 years and passing through the female line three times, it
has never been sold. Consequently, it contains collections of
furniture and porcelain which have accumulated over many generations.
The story of the Abbey mirrors local and national history at
every turn. It has a friendly and lived-in atmosphere, so often
absent in many of our nation’s historic houses, a point continually
remarked upon by those who visit us.
As parents enjoy the Abbey, children
can join in by doing the quiz. The quiz is
educational and fun. Everyone receives a prize.
We have specifically refrained from offering modern hype - children
who visit the Abbey will find Old Fashioned Fun. The donkeys
Nutmeg, Bluebell and Snowdrop, the Black Welsh Mountain sheep,
the bantams and of course the peacocks all fascinate children.
The Kitchen Garden shows children how vegetables are grown.
The small winding paths in the woodland gardens are fun to explore,
the birds, butterflies and wild flowers make fascinating moments.
There is so much to see and do, lots of space to run about and
feel free. You will wonder where the time went!
1157-1539 the Augustinian canons lived and gardened in this
hidden paradise. In the 18thC woodland gardens were created
on either side of the Abbey with woodland walks leading to walled
gardens, built to be sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic
gales. In the late 19th/early 20thC Gertrude Jekyll was a frequent
guest at the Abbey and was instrumental in helping Marion, Lady
Stucley create the intimate paths and small terraces of the
Baronet’s Bog Garden, Victorian Fernery and Camellia Garden.
With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 the garden staff of
15 all but disappeared and the gardens and grounds became overgrown
and virtually lost until the 1950s when Sir Dennis and Lady
Stucley, both keen and knowledgeable gardeners, with a skeleton
staff, started to clear some of the Woodland Gardens and part
of the Walled Gardens. They planted much of the large collection
of camellias, hydrangeas and eucryphias; they cleared large
areas of bamboo and replanted many rhododendrons and azaleas
which were removed from Moreton House at Bideford, another Stucley
home, now Grenville College. These all thrive today.
In 1996 on the death
of Sheila, Lady Stucley the present owners started a programme
of more clearing and replanting. Huge areas of bramble and thick
undergrowth were cleared and the Victorian Fernery, lost since
1914 reemerged almost unscathed from almost a century of neglect.
Many small Jekyll paths and terraces have also been uncovered
and are now being replanted. The Walled Gardens had become neglected
but in 1997 work started to remove the perennial weeds and in
1998 they were opened as an ongoing project. Now they are flourishing
again and visitors will see many exciting new plantings!
woodland gardens are full of spring colour with camellias, rhododendrons,
azaleas, magnolias and many bulbs all bursting into colour from
Christmas onwards in this mild climate. Following these many
beautiful hydrangeas and eucryphias start flowering in July,
the hydrangeas flowering until the gardens close. The winding
paths in the Baronet’s Bog Garden, only recently uncovered from
nearly a century of neglect, lead the visitor to huge camellias,
Cornish Red rhododendrons, massive gunnera, hostas, primulas,
astilbe, zantedeschia(arum lilies), hydrangeas and the Victorian
Fernery. A very old acer, twisted and knarled from a century’s
growth of ivy and bramble hiding it, stands at the entrance
to the Fernery. The ‘Ladies Walk’ through woodland carpeted
with wildflowers in spring, leads visitors to the four secret
18thC Walled Gardens. Now being replanted, they contain vegetables
and fruit for the house and for sale, many tender and rare plants,
summer perennials and shrubs. Echium pininana, growing to 15ft
in a good year, flourishes here. It had lain dormant for over
ten years until the ground was worked again in 1997! Two large
glasshouses were lost in some particularly violent Atlantic
gales many years ago but three remain containing tomatoes, geraniums
and tender plants for the visitor to see. We would hope one
day to rebuild at least one of the larger ones.
Walk to the Sea
Visitors are able to reach the wild Atlantic Cove via
a woodland walk. This popular walk leads to some of the most
spectacular cliff scenery in the British Isles. In spring it
is carpeted in bluebells, primroses and many wildflowers. The
cliff flowers in April, May and June are beautiful and diverse;
they were the subject of ‘BBC Gardeners World’ introduced by
Dan Pearson in 1999.
5miles W of Clovelly through Hartland Village
en route to Hartland Quay. Turn off A39 - 15 m W of Bideford,
15m N of Bude. M5 Junction27 follow N. Devon link road to
Hartland. Nearest airports Exeter and Bristol. Trains to Barnstaple
via Exeter. Local bus service from Barnstaple station and
Bideford to Hartland village. For walkers enjoying the scenery
of the Southwest Coastal Path why not make a visit to the
Abbey part of your journey.
Local accommodation available.
Bideford, North Devon. EX39 6DT. UK.
Tel:+44 (0)1237 441264/234 Fax:+44(0)1237 441264 E-mail:
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