Goodnestone Park in Kent has been on my "wish list" for more than two years ... it was one of the gardens I wanted to see before I even started blogging, but somehow circumstances conspired against me and it was only this week that I finally got there! Read any garden guide and Goodnestone will be there ... "1001 Gardens to see before you die", "The Good Gardens Guide" where it has a two-star ranking; and the newly published "Dream Gardens of England"(one to put on your Christmas list!).
So I arrived in the tiny village of Wingham in Kent last week wondering just what I was going to see at this Palladian-style mansion, which may have inspired Jane Austen to write 'Pride and Prejudice' after staying here in 1796. The setting is certainly idyllic, with a glorious Norman church overlooking the three interlinked walled gardens that are such a special feature of the property (above and below), but it is also the ambience that makes this place so different from other gardens. It is as though time has stood still here in the village.
Yet current owner, Lady FitzWalter, has spent more than 40 years restoring the grounds to their former glory, even though her family has been in residence here for more than 300 years. She has also introduced many new features like the box parterre in front of the main house (top), and the new gravel garden created recently by Graham Gough. There is also a new rill in the middle walled garden (above), added just last year, yet all these changes have been designed to complement the ambience of an old house and garden steeped in history.
Trees are another major feature here at Goodnestone, and you'll be amazed by the magnolia grandifloras here - where the blooms are almost a full foot in diameter! There is also a majestic lime walk at the rear of the property.This is a garden to savour - you could easily spend half a day here just soaking up the atmosphere! Combine this with Godinton House, just a short drive away, and you will understand why English gardens are so special.