Boughton Church Window Gary Trouton

Boughton Open Gardens

July 2004

Ray descreibes a delightful tour of the Boughton Gardens on the hottest day of the year so far!

Being gluttons for punishment, we spent a second consecutive Sunday visiting West Norfolk Gardens. This was our first visit to Boughton gardens and what a surprise awaited us. We took along, as arbiters, our two elderly friends from London and I can report that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Readers will probably recall that Sunday 13th June was one of the hottest days of the year so far! Our itinerary for the Boughton festival included no less than 15 gardens. These ranged from the enormous to the small, but immaculate, family plots. I suppose our greatest surprise was our encounter with Hall House gardens. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson, the Hall House garden extends to an amazing 13 acres. The formal elements of the garden have taken some 15 years to construct and there is currently under way a three year programme to restore the gardens to their former glory. Having just about got out breath back at the shear size and magnificence of this garden, we learnt to our total surprise that many gardens in Boughton, Hall House included, have an uninterrupted view of the spires of Ely Cathedral!

Another treasure was the comparatively new gardens of Barn Owl Cottage, one of a pair of delightful cottages developed in the past four years. The beautifully landscaped and easy access gardens (Mr Leet is wheelchair bound) have become firmly established in a very short time. We were also privileged to visit, within the main garden, Megan's garden; a delightful little area set aside for the daughter of the house. It had been Megan's intention to sit out in her garden to welcome visitors but, in the event, it was far too hot for to stay outside in the direct sun. We shared the owners' disappointment that despite erecting a magnificent Barn Owl nesting box, the ungrateful beggar had opted for a Church Road site instead.

Our safari around the village took in the Old Rectory, built in 1837 by the then vicar of Boughton, in which we discovered a formal Victorian vegetable patch, a large Victorian green house and an outdoor swimming pool! An early stop at Winward, the old White Horse Pub, should have prepared us for what was to come. The Winward garden seems to stretch for ever, despite being only approximately 3/4 acre in size. The well tended lawns lead you quietly from flower gardens to vegetable gardens to the orchard and then a delightful summer house set well back from the main house. Despite its ancestry as a pub, Winward does not include cellars in the house construction. Apparently, the water table (see the village pond for confirmation) is too high to permit cellars.

Having watched The Old Stables develop from an original barn, it was a pleasure to visit their garden to see how that too had progressed. By careful design the various elements of the garden are linked by paths (eloquently illustrated by signs produced by the children) and a delightful open vista which permitted the unexpected view of Ely cathedral form the sitting area decking by the back door.

Our only regret was that the heat and our frailty prevented us from visiting all 15 gardens. We managed ten although our visit to Church View was to take a much needed break for refreshments and to enjoy a small gamble on the tombola. Amazingly, the village exceeded their target of 100 visitors by exactly half with 150 visitors contributing a massive £375 to the church fund. We shall certainly make sure that Boughton gardens are included in our diary for next year!

Ray Thompson

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