West Suffolk has superb homes and gardens to visit this summer from Gainsborough’s country to the Brecks.
Lindsay Want shares why an Invitation to View visit to Belchamp Hall, Columbine Hall, Netherhall Manor, West Stow Hall, Haughley House and Ousden House makes for an eye-catching day out in her recent article in Bury & West Suffolk Magazine.
“Do walk this way, if you’d like to,“ encourages Charlie Raymond, crunching across the gravel sweep by Belchamp Hall towards the raised avenue of ornamental cherries. As if being introduced personally to all his family wasn’t awesome enough – especially when Gainsborough had a hand in it too – here was an invitation to share different historical perspectives. Framed by the bright branches, there are views of the Queen Anne hall with its bay-windowed powder-rooms; a peacock perched on the yew hedge; medieval St Mary’s beyond the gates. And at either end of the long colourful corridor, the ruin-topped mound of an ice-house and a bijou summer pavilion. A privileged spot, scattered with pale confetti in spring, rich in reds and oranges come autumn. Japanese cherry trees? Maybe. All just out of this world? Definitely.
Invitation to View properties with glorious gardens in West Suffolk, East of England – Find out more »
Belchamp Hall, near Sudbury, Suffolk with Invitation to View – Find out more »
But private historic houses aren’t always the focus on tours through the much-loved Invitation to View scheme. At medieval Columbine Hall, Chelsea award-winning designer, George Carter, helped owners Leslie Geddes-Brown and Hew Stevenson ‘think outside the moat’ by treating it like a ha-ha. So, thanks to hornbeam and yew hedges, pleached limes and bright blocks of planting, vistas roll ‘naturally’ through formal gardens into the gentle Mid-Suffolk landscape beyond. The Mediterranean garden adds a touch of other-worldliness of course, soft with the grey-blues of drought-tolerant ivies and eucalyptus, warm-scented lavenders and yellow-centred Rock roses. Even the veg is put to bed colour by colour, inspired by Normandy’s Château de Bosmelet.
Columbine Hall, near Stowmarket, Suffolk with Invitation to View – Find out more »
Over at Netherhall Manor though, it’s a strange confection of concrete ‘stone’work and would-be Rococo statuary which lets nature do its thing. Home to the Brandenburg Gate (a folly of arches by the greenhouse!) and a plethora of paths where carefully positioned pieces direct the eye, the walled garden accessories set up a scene for Timothy Clark’s old-fashioned plants to colour beautiful. His is a secret celebration of hugely historic, yet often humble favourites, from antique herbs to Crown Imperial fritillaries, slipper flowers, pelargoniums and even cherry pie plants.
Netherhall Manor, near Soham, Suffolk / Cambs border with Invitation to View – Find out more »
A pair of pudding gates frame the view at West Stow Hall, down past the lavender swathes and dots of delicate dianthus. There are figures here too, but rare terracotta examples, perched precariously high on a gatehouse contemporary to the world’s first circumnavigators. No wonder the globe thistles seem so at home, just like the white clambering roses which escort you down the garden path at Haughley House. The property has a priest’s hole, so they must be Rambling Rectors, surely?
West Stow Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk with Invitation to View – Find out more »
Whether outside or in, as you move from room to room, the connections keep coming. Likewise the vistas. Take the delightful succession of garden rooms at Ousden House, home to many a pew with a view. No wonder their owners enjoy sharing them through this visionary visitor scheme.
Invitation to View properties with glorious gardens in West Suffolk, East of England – Book now »
Prices start from £14.00. All tours (min. 1.5 hours, often guided by the owners) include light refreshments.
Belchamp Hall nr Sudbury – July 16, Aug 10, Sept 17,18
Columbine Hall nr Stowmarket – July 12,21; Aug 1 – Fully Booked *
Haughley House nr Stowmarket – July 8, Aug 2,30
Netherhall Manor nr Soham – Aug 2, 9
Ousden House nr Newmarket – June 14, 28
West Stow Hall nr Mildenhall – June 21; July 11; Aug 5; Nov 11
*Sold out, sorry, but please call the ticket sales team on 01206 573948 for up to date availability information. Waiting lists in operation and additional tour dates often created to meet demand.