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Friday, 12 August 2016

Beeleigh Abbey visit 2016

We are big fans of visiting Open Gardens around Essex whenever possible, and thankfully the glorious weather allowed us to visit the beautiful gardens of Beeleigh Abbey today for the first time in a couple of years, and it never disappoints!!

First stop when we arrived was to the tea tent on the lawns, and they had a lovely range of rolls and cakes to sample so Lemon Drizzle is always my first choice so that disappeared fast! I should have gone back for seconds!

There are 3 acres of the gardens to explore, for a £5 entrance fee which all goes to charity. They were first opened to the public in 2009 by the current owners Christopher and Catherine Foyle, of Foyles bookshops fame

They all a wide variety of plants growing in the borders and different parts to the garden, but I think my favourite area is where they have a large collection of David Austin roses!  They seem to pick the ones with the best scents too so as soon as you hit the area, you are welcomed with the gorgeous fragrances! 

And we noticed this year, a new addition to the garden which is a lovely pathway down the main lawn and a lovely water feature surrounded by yew topiary, standard roses and lavendar.  I'm sure this will also improve over the years too as it settles in and establishes and I look forward to going back to see those changes!

As you walk through the bog garden, another fairly new addition, you reach the edge of the gardens which features a lovely view over the River Chelmer which is always host to various wildlife and birdlife and a lovely quiet spot

The front of the house is built of timber and stone and just looks so pretty nestled amongst the plants.  The original abbey was founded in 1180 for white robed canons of the strict Premonstratensian order and the original buildings also included a church.  A shrine containing the heart of Saint Roger Niger (who was born in Beeleigh and as Bishop of London witnessed Magna Carta being signed) bought many pilgrims to the abbey in 1241.

Much of the area was destroyed though by Henry VIII's Reformation, and the first secular owner was beheaded in 1553 for supporting Lady Jane Grey!  So the surviving buildings were incorporated into an early 17th century timber framed private house and the basic structure has not changed since.

Definitely a lovely place to visit if you are ever in the area and it opens on various Fridays' throughout the year so always worth checking the website for Beeleigh Abbey

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