Once again Margaret has pulled the rabbit out of the bag and organised a coach trip which took us, this time, to Godinton House and gardens near Ashford. Given how beautiful the whole estate is, it is quite amazing to think that several of us, the writer included, had no idea what lay behind the great gates, which one has known of since childhood.
In fact the house and estate have been there for some 600 years, having been built for Capt. Nicholas Toke, soldier, landowner and Grandee. The house has been lived in, added to and changed considerably, yet it has only had two major changes of ownership. And now it sits in a thousand acres of parkland setting with a magnificent yew hedge which surrounds the several acres of cultivated gardens and many examples of splendid topiary. Wandering in the great gardens we also encountered a sculpture named 'Tempesta' which was created from marble by Emily Young and only placed in the garden in 2017 after two other classic statues were stolen five years ago.
The delphinium displays are quite spectacular, while the gardeners will be hoping to keep them in full bloom until the Delphinium Festival later in June. English weather being what it is the flowers have peaked early in the sunny summer -
One has to be quite amazed by the size of the compost heaps which were discreetly sited in a quiet corner, and even the 'bug hotel' outside the glasshouses was of a size to make Charlie's mouth water. It was huge, ( the bug hotel that is ! )
We were not allowed to take photographs inside the house though one can see some on their own website.
Suffice to say that after refreshments on arrival we were taken on very interesting conducted tours of the house where we saw a very comfortable house and home which had been extended over the years. We saw historic clocks, magnificent carved wood panelling from hundreds of years ago, Worcester porcelain figurines and dinner sets of which they still have " many boxes " which are not on display. But then the lady owner some 100 years ago was given £20 million to do as she pleased. She plainly did it !
After the house tours and a pleasant lunch break we enjoyed a few hours of exploring the garden, firstly with the lady head gardener and then with the freedom to roam wherever we wished.
I personally feel that although I had no idea of the existence of Godinton House and Gardens for the first seventy years of my life, it will not be the last visit I enjoy.
And on behalf of all who joined the outing I would like to thank Margaret and Martin for a super day out. It was really very special.
The Godinton visit