Ashburnham Christian Trust
Ashburnham Place is a place for retreat, rest, refreshment and connection for people from all walks of life. Ashburnham Place is stewarded by the Ashburnham Christian Trust and is home to a serving community of Christians from many traditions.
We are set in 220 acres of stunning grounds and gardens with three lakes and an abundance of nature. Our commitment is to serving and resourcing people.
The grounds and gardens at Ashburnham Place are what sets us out as a unique place to come away to. The grounds extend to over 220 acres and are stunningly beautiful in all seasons. The area is rich in wildlife too, part of the grounds are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the valuable, and in some cases, rare, flora and fauna found here. As you walk through the woods and around the lakes you may see and hear woodpeckers, kingfishers, deer, badgers and foxes, we have even had reported sightings of wild boar!
The grounds of Ashburnham Place were laid out in the mid-eighteenth Century by the renowned garden designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, he created the three lakes and enhanced the natural woodland around them, introducing walks and sight lines back to the house. He was also responsible for designing the Walled Kitchen Garden and building the Orangery, which now houses the Tea Room.
Let’s take a walk around the grounds and gardens so that you can get a glimpse of what to expect when you visit us.
As you approach the house you will pass under magnificent Cedar of Lebanon Trees that frame the bridge over the lake. The bridge was built in the 1800s by the Architect George Dance the Younger who also designed the stone terraces in front of the house. These were originally laid out with formal parterres but are now simple areas of lawn with Iceberg roses planted in the centre and different varieties of climbing and rambling rose growing on the walls.
The main area of ornamental garden is the West Garden, at the top of which is the Orangery Tea Room. The Orangery was built by Brown and it houses Camellias that are thought to be the oldest in the country, dating from 1833. The current layout of the gardens dates to the mid nineteenth century. The West Garden is planted in the gardenesque style with shrubs and trees informally planted in areas of grass. The garden comes alive with colour in the spring as the Rhododendrons and Azaleas come into flower and scented daffodils flower in the grass verges. Later in the year drifts of Fuschia and Hydrangea take over! There are some magnificent trees in the gardens, the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is probably one of the most spectacular, at the side of the Orangery steps.
The Walled Kitchen Garden is seven acres in total and the walls are an impressive fourteen foot high. A large area is used for growing fruit, vegetables and flowers for use in the house and to supply Adam Byatt’s Trinity Restaurant in Clapham. We make apple juice from the trees in the orchard which you can buy in the Bookshop or Orangery Tea Room.
One of the smaller areas of the walled garden, which was originally used to grow flowers for the house is now a peaceful, Prayer Garden and has been planted with shrubs and perennials that are scented, including Magnolia grandiflora, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) and Sweet Box (Sarcococca confusa). There is a greenhouse in the garden which is a lovely place to sit when the weather isn’t so good.
You can walk around all three lakes and the woodland paths are beautiful at any time of the year, there are mature Oaks, Beech, Amelanchier, Chestnut and Hornbeam as well as many other species. The grass banks around Frontwater are left long in the summer and the meadow grass and wild flowers attracts all kinds of butterflies and other wildlife. In the Spring there bluebells and primroses flower profusely. On the lake itself you might spot Swans, Coots, Ducks and Great Crested Grebes who nested here successfully again this year.
'Part of Capability Brown’s legacy.'
If you walk around Frontwater, you will come to another lake, Reservoir Pond, which is a very peaceful spot to reflect in. You might even be fortunate enough to spot a Kingfisher here. You can walk around this lake too, it can get a bit muddy so be prepared! If you don’t want to face the mud you can walk across the grassy bank between the lakes and pick up the path around Front Water which will bring you back to the Bridge. You can stop and look back at the house from the grassy glades or rides which were designed by Brown to give glimpses back across the lake to the house.
The third lake, Broadwater also has paths all around it and this is probably the easiest lake to get around if you have mobility problems. From the main path you can explore Burrage Wood, this covers the hill between the lake and the drive. You can pick up a path to the Lady Spring Grotto too, a stone structure built by Capability Brown with a fresh water spring flowing into a trough at the back. The damp, shady structure provides a great habitat place for ferns and mosses to grow.
The river Ashbourne runs along the Northern boundary of Ashburnham Christian Trust land, you can walk along a stretch of it accessible from the bridge at the start of the back drive. There is a weir that used to be part of the hydraulic system to get the water up to the house and the pump houses have been converted into simple prayer rooms that can be used by individuals or small groups.
Target Wood is a spit of land that can be accessed from paths in front of Target Lodge, you will find an Ice House here, another part of Capability Brown’s legacy. Target wood was probably intended as a pinetum and the line of Monterey Pines (Pinus radiate) along the field boundary date from 1833, other evergreens such as Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) and Yew (Taxus baccata) are dotted through the woodland. Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) grows along the river bank in the Spring.
We look forward to welcoming you to Ashburnham Place either as a residential guest or as a visitor to the Orangery Tea Room and hope that you enjoy your time with us
More info about Asburnham Place can be found at http://www.ashburnham.org.uk/
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