Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tapeley Park Gardens

In the town of Instow, not far from the village of Westleigh in North Devon, you will find 6,000-acre Tapeley Park, with its Georgian mansion, gardens, 300-acre woodland and parkland.

The house was acquired by the Christie family in the mid-19th century.  In the 1880's, Lady Rosamund married Augustus Langham Christie, then banished him to another Christie estate, perhaps partially because he supposedly used to kick the furniture with his hobnailed boots. In an act of revenge, John willed the estate to a distant cousin in Canada (he died in 1930). Lady Rosamunde fought the will in court, eventually proving (shortly before her own death in 1936) that Augustus had been of unsound mind.

Lady Rosamund devoted herself to improving the grounds, having Italian gardens dug; as well as buying furniture for the house at auctions. Today, Tapeley houses the second largest collection of William Morris furniture in England.

The house is closed to the public except for large groups, but the various gardens are open to tour. The terraces are one of its oldest features, hand dug and south facing. Along with the Italianate terraces there is a kitchen garden and a Permaculture garden.
There are loads of well-groomed shrubs.
And a Lovers Tunnel.

It is the Italian garden with its lichen-covered statues, ivy encrusted obelisks, sun dials, topiary flowers and trees which commands your attention. When viewed from above or from a distance, you become aware of just how pleasant the layout of its design is.

There are numerous paths for strolling that take you to different parts of the garden.

The lavender border, when in bloom, scents the air.

Arched entranceways up steps beckon you to remote private areas perfect for contemplation.

And also lead to a different view of the garden below.

Today, Tapeley is owned by Lady Rosamund's great grandson, Hector Christie. He inherited the estate from his aunt, another Rosamund (the grand-daughter of the previous Rosamund who created the gardens). Are you still following me?  Hector is determined to get Tapeley as off-the-grid as possible. He is involved in all sorts of  ventures and projects leading to sustainability. His statement of intent examines what Tapeley is currently doing in this regard and where it hopes to go in the future.

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