Abbey House Gardens
Abbey House Gardens comprise nearly four acres of exceptional gardens backdropped by the dramatic arches of the historic Malmesbury Abbey.
Abbey House was originally part of the Benedictine Monastery founded in Malmesbury around the end of the 7th Century. There is evidence of a substantial house on the site from as early as the 11th Century. However, the current Grade I listed house dates from the mid 16th Century. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 wealthy clothier, William Stumpe, acquired the remains of the Monastery from King Henry VIII. By 1542, he had set about building the Abbey House on existing 13th Century foundations from one of the Monastery’s former buildings, possibly the abbot’s house. Since then, the house has largely remained in private hands.
ABBEY HOUSE GARDENS
In 1994, Abbey House was neglected and empty when it was purchased by Ian and Barbara Pollard who set about restoring the property and developing the gardens that we see today. Belying its young age, the garden is now well-established blending seamlessly with the historic architectural elements. Containing some 10,000 specimens and filled with features including a knot garden, laburnum arch and extensive rose collection the garden is atmospheric and romantic incorporating both formal elements nearer the house and the more natural river garden.
A nod to the garden’s history is discernible through the herb garden; herbs would have been grown by the monks when it was a working abbey. The historic stew ponds also remain providing the perfect habitat for water-loving plants. And walls and arches in the garden incorporate fragments of 12th Century carved stone, re-used from the original abbey.
Despite being an exceptional garden in its own right, Abbey House Gardens gained international recognition as the home of ‘the Naked Gardeners’, as the naturist Pollards styled themselves. Indeed, it is thought to be the first major attraction in England that offered a ‘clothing optional day’.
Now managed by the Pollard’s son, Abbey House Gardens remain an English favourite providing interest throughout the year.
We visit Abbey House Gardens on our 2021 Enchanting Cotswolds & the Chelsea Flower Show tour and our A Touch of Magnificence tour.
For information on all of our current tours please click on the link:
Images © Eliza Ford