Spencers Garden, Great Yeldham, Essex
Spencers' Garden is set in a traditional English country estate. Lady Anne Spencer, granddaughter of the first Duke of Marlborough, a forebear of Princess Diana, built the house in the mid-18th century. It is surrounded by 100 acres of parkland, gardens and woodland with fine, mature trees and romantic gardens which were renovated by top garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith.
The walled garden retains Lady Anne's 1760 layout with its grid structure and elegant timber-framed greenhouse, said to be the oldest in Essex. In spring and summer the garden overflows with beauty and colour – huge tumbling wisteria, startling armies of "true-blue" Lord Butler delphiniums ("Rab" lived at Spencers in the 1970s-80s), lavender walks, dazzling herbaceous borders and a formal garden enclosed by pleached pears. Roses are a speciality and appear in many forms – an avenue of standard Icebergs, a climbing "bonnet" of Albertine, a huge Kiftsgate arch, Graham Thomas massed around the central sundial, a pergola of fragrant climbers and beds planted for their scent and dramatic colour combinations.
The woodland gardens are just below, in a little valley alongside the young river Colne. They are Victorian in origin and offer a cool respite on warm days.
Brief introduction to the history of the house and its estate, followed by a guided tour of the garden and lunch.
Spencers is on the Essex-Suffolk border just to the north of the village of Great Yeldham. From Braintree take the A1017 to Great Yeldham. Once you reach Great Yeldham follow the directions below.
On a bend in the centre of Great Yeldham is a small green with a very ancient oak stump on it (supposed to be the remains of a Domesday oak). Turn off the main road here. Follow the road round to the left, along the banks of the stream and carry on up the hill. The drive to Spencers is on your left after about half a mile: watch out for the yellow “Spencers” signs.
Two course lunch with a glass of wine.
Unsuitable for dogs. Because our properties are old and fragile, unfortunately we cannot include children under 14.
Gardens on level ground, woods unsuitable for wheelchair/disabled.