Sunday, 28 August 2016

Iford Manor: an Italianate gem

There is something about saving the best until last, there is also something about not knowing that you were saving the best until last but it turns out that you did.

I knew as I arrived that was I was going to see somewhere special.  As you approach Iford Manor there is this most wonderful bridge with a statue of Britannia looking out over the river.
When I am getting excited about a visit by looking at the bridge in front of it, I know I am going to be in for a treat.  I still though did not appreciate how much of a treat it would be.
I worked out pretty quickly that as part of my trip to Devon that I could stop off at Iford Manor on the way home.  I had placed Iford on my list of must-see gardens some time ago as I knew it to be a fine Italianate garden, and I do love a good Italianate garden.
The gardens were designed by Harold Peto who first visited the house with Henry Avray Tipping in 1899.  Yes, there he is again in the centre of a story about a fine Arts and Crafts garden.  My trip to Devon started with Avray Tipping and it was fitting that there was a reference to him at its conclusion.  Peto lived at Iford from 1899 until his death in 1933.  Peto trained as an architect; at the heart of many a good Arts and Crafts garden is an architect (Lutyens, Clough Williams Ellis, shall I go on....?)
The gardens are magnificent.  There is no better word to use.  The 2.5 acres of the gardens are steep with terraces and pathways.  You wander from level to level finding new wonders at each turn.
and there are wonders.   I loved this garden, I loved this garden to the point that I was cross with myself for leaving it until last.  I know I have to return soon to visit as I had not really got enough time to appreciate it properly.  There was even a moment when I considered keeping driving to get home.  I am so glad that I resisted that moment.
I did have enough time for tea and cake though.  They sell tea at Iford, this means that they have extremely good tea and cake.  I had a pot of the organic lavender Earl Grey, which is very much what a friend of mine would call 'poncy tea'.  It was divine, that is the only word I can use for it.  When I got home I immediately ordered some.  They sell lots of different kinds of tea, I feel some tea exploration coming on.
Like most really great gardens, the thing that becomes apparent is that you need to see it in the other seasons.  Iford had many wisterias and I can only begin to imagine how wonderful the scent would be when it was in full flower.
This role of elderly wisterias are opposite the front of the house.  They were beautifully shaped and pruned.  They were clearly well looked after.
There is so much to this garden and I have made no attempt to show it all.  It really is a 'go and see for yourself' garden.

I arrived home tired from the journey but I had such a great time visiting so many wonderful places. Now I have to think about where I have to wander off to next.


Other visits related to this trip:

Wyndcliffe Court

Buckfast Abbey

Wildside

Hauser and Wirth,

7 comments :

  1. Wow it's beautiful and I love those steps they make it look like a magical place. Though taking the children would be interesting. I agree about the different seasons more excuse for tea and cake too 😀

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    1. The steps were quite steep but there are also lots of rolling banks. There were several families there and the children were running around merrily. I think if you are not very mobile it could be an issue to get around all the garden though.

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  2. What a champion trip, matched only by a champion effort in recording your visits in blog posts! Keen to visit Ilford Manor, doubly so after reading this. I note with some interest your observations on CAKE.

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    1. Thanks, do visit if you can. A good garden and good cake is a fine thing

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  3. That is beautiful, thanks for the write up. I need to visit more Italianate gardens in the future so I will add this to the list if I am ever in the area :)

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    1. I have a particular weakness for Italianate gardens, they are in my view a fine fashion.

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  4. It's a jewel of a garden, one I've known for over 30 years. It is well worth visiting at other times of the year - wisteria time is good and I have been privileged to visit it in the winter months when you the bones of the garden and its construction reveal themselves.

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