Earlier this week, my daughter and I spent a wonderful afternoon at the truly beautiful Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. We have visited before, so knew it was the perfect place for my daughter to practice her photography - she has been saving up, and this week bought her first 'grown-up' camera.
Abbey House Gardens are open to the public seven days a week from late March until late October, and covers a 5 acre site. These stunning gardens are the result of the vision and hard work of a couple affectionately known as the 'Naked Gardeners', and the gardens hold a number of 'clothes optional' days throughout the year - which is something to bare in mind when planning a visit.
Malmesbury has been inhabited for centuries, and a religious site is believed to have been established here around 642. Athelstan, Alfred the Great's grandson and the first king of all England, was buried at Malmesbury Abbey in 935, and is believed to now lie somewhere within the Abbey House Gardens.
Although the Abbey itself still looms impressively over the gardens, it was far bigger in the past, and the garden paths and yew hedging in the formal gardens, have all been laid out and positioned to replicate the exact footprint of the missing parts of the original Abbey. There is even an exposed stone coffin, left in its original location, to be found within one of the flower beds.
Because our visit was so early in the season, these stood out beautifully. In the past we have visited much later in the year, when everything is a sea of blooms. All parts of the gardens are stunning, but I believe that the tulip (some 15,00 of them) and rose (in the region of 2000) collections are said to be of particular note.