Several times I’ve seen Easton Walled Gardens, the ‘lost gardens’ of Lincolnshire, mentioned in the national press. It’s only a few miles from where I stay on my trips to see my dad, and so A and I recently took the opportunity to visit.
The gardens are open four days a week, and not usually on a Saturday, but luckily for us it was Sweetpea Week, so there was extended opening. (As there is in February for Snowdrop Week). It also happened to be the day England played Sweden in the World Cup, and apparently quieter than usual, so we encountered few people as we wandered around.
The Easton Estate is a traditional rural estate between Stamford and Grantham, owned and farmed by the Cholmeley family since the 16th century. Their home, Easton Hall, was a grand country house that was requisitioned by the army during World War 2. It ‘suffered considerable damage’ and was demolished in 1951.
There’s a stark contrast between the splendour of the mansion in a photograph displayed in the gardens, and the present site where all that remains is a stone set in the ground marking where the front door used to be.
Most of the walls and garden buildings survived, but in poor condition and on the highest level of the English Heritage At Risk register. The restoration that was started by family and friends in 2001, with no budget, has now transformed the site.
This gate dates from the time of Sir Montague Cholmeley, who had extensive work done on the house.
What to see at Easton Walled Gardens
There is so much to explore and enjoy here – 12 acres of meadows, borders, wildflower terraces, sculpture, a white garden, an ornamental bridge over the River Witham, an orchard, roses…and much more.
The far side of the garden isn’t far from the A1 so traffic noise is audible, but we didn’t find it at all disturbing. We were too engrossed in the garden to really notice it.
There is so much to see that you could stay the whole five hours of opening time and still leave feeling there was plenty more to absorb.
Food and drink
Our visit began in the best possible way with a coffee and a fudgy brownie from the Mildred & Jones little Italian coffee van parked outside the Coach House, a pop-up for Sweetpea Week.
Normally refreshments are only available at the tearoom, where later we had a tasty and great value Gardener’s Lunch – like a ploughman’s with a locally baked sundried tomato roll, Cheddar, Cambozola, pate, homemade chutney, and salad with a thick, delicious dressing. (There was so much cheese we took half away for later!)
How to stay longer at Easton Walled Gardens
As well as attending one of the workshops and events held here, you can hire the Coach House for celebrations and meetings. The Meadow Retreat is a pretty wooden garden room in a peaceful corner of the garden that you can hire for the day.
The estate owns five holiday cottages, four actually at the gardens and one in the nearby village of Burton-le-Coggles (ooh, how posh, it was simply Burton Coggles when I was growing up!) They all have free, unlimited access to the gardens at any time. What a back garden to wander out into, evening drink in hand!
I’m already looking forward to going back for another visit, to see the gardens in a different season.
(Photos of the Lodge and Montague’s Gate by Andy Britnell)