Day out in the Cotswolds
Prior Park Garden in the Cotswolds – A National Trust Must-See
Prior Park is a must-see landscaped garden built high on a hillside with spectacular views of Bath as just one of its many attractions.
This National Trust Grade 1 listed garden was created by local entrepreneur Ralph Allen and begun in 1734.
Allen, who made his fortune by reorganizing the post office, took advice from the poet Alexander Pope and the garden designer Capability Brown before creating this masterpiece.
There are few flowers and no formal beds in this garden – it is all about breathtaking views, restful green lawns, reflecting water from the lakes and sculptural bridges – creating a mellow mood that is immensely pleasing.
Meandering across the elegant Palladian Bridge, one of only four left in the world, is a joy and there is much more to discover including: a Serpentine Lake, a Cascade, a summerhouse, and a horseshoe walk.
Winding and sometimes steep paths lead to hidden retreats, tranquil lakes, a ruined Gothic Temple, a Grotto and finally, stunning vistas over Bath. Prior Park was the matrix for style that became known as the “English garden”.
The Palladian mansion, which tops one of the garden’s sweeping green slopes and overlooks Bath, now houses Prior Park College and was designed by John Wood, the Elder in 1742. He was commissioned by Ralph Allen to build a house “To see all Bath, and for all Bath to see”.
This house, with its classic symmetry, should be on the list of all the overseas visitors who, caught up in Downton Abbey fervor, are now interested in seeing other examples of the great houses of Britain.
Afternoon Tea can be taken at a tiny, clapboard tea house, with outdoor tables, tucked away in the foliage.
A five-minute walk from the garden leads on to a six mile circular walk around Bath, with amazing views, that passes through woodlands, meadows, an Iron Age hill-fort, Roman settlements, and an 18th-century folly.
Prior Park Garden is south of Bath, Somerset, by Ralph Allen Drive, and 3/4 mile (1.2 km) from the Kennet and Avon canal path. BA2 5AH
Click here for National Trust Link
New! Cotswolds Memoir is now available as an AudioBook in addition to Paperback and Kindle
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