Attractions

Country Houses & Gardens in Northumberland

Country Houses and Gardens

Northumberland’s Country Houses and Gardens hint at its colourful and innovative past.  Each different site has its own history and family story behind it.  All of these gardens are beautiful to visit in summer and winter, although check opening times of the houses during the winter period.

Alnwick Garden

For over 50 years, the gardens of Alnwick Castle, originally laid out by Capability Brown, lay derelict until the Duchess of Northumberland had the idea to turn them into a beautiful visitor attraction in 1997.  It is the most ambitious new garden created in the United Kingdom since the Second World War, with a reported total development cost of £42 million.

In February 2005, The Poison Garden was created, growing plants such as cannabis and opium poppies, with guided tours only, it’s fascinating to hear the background to these dangerous plants.  From the tranquillity of the Cherry Orchard, the excitement of the Grand Cascade and the mysteries of the Bamboo Labyrinth, to the Serpent Garden’s spell-binding water sculptures and fun for children of all ages, the intrigue of the Poison Garden and one of the world’s largest tree houses – there is plenty to surprise and delight.

The Garden is a space designed to be enjoyed by all your senses, with a collection of over 4,000 plant varieties to discover, thousands of seasonal blooms and countless opportunities to get wet and play in The Garden’s water sculptures.

Lying behind 16th century Venetian gates is the Ornamental Garden – a horticultural delight filled with one of the country’s largest collections of European plants laid out in striking geometric beds.  Here, an intricate planting pattern is created with a play of light and shade, grey and green foliage, flowers, fruit and aerial lacework created by pleached crab apples.  Follow inviting pathways bordered by lavender and fruit trees, and discover quiet places to sit and catch the sun.

At the Ornamental Garden’s centre lies a bubbling pool that spills into the rills that run throughout the Garden, and into two small secret gardens.  Beds of bedding roses and delphiniums are edged in box, while cut flower species grow with annuals and bulbs alongside small fruit varieties.

As well as the stunning gardens, Alnwick Castle is also a major visitor attraction.  It is here that the famous Harry Potter film series was filmed, being the setting for Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The Alnwick Treehouse is also a popular attraction where you can explore or dine.  See our webpage Places to Eat in the guest information file for more information on The Treehouse, and the Alnwick Gardens information sheet for more information on the attraction.

Click here to read more about Alnwick Garden.

Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens

With so much to see and do, a trip to Belsay Gardens is one of the best value family days out in North East England.  Explore the grand medieval castle, later extended to include a magnificent Jacobean mansion and don’t miss the stunning views from the top of the tower.  Then it’s on to Belsay Hall, an architectural masterpiece inspired by the temples of ancient Greece, with its fabulous Pillar Hall.  Last but not least, there are the huge grounds, packed with an impressive array of shrubs and flowers.  The unique Quarry Garden is a fantasy of ravines, pinnacles and exotic plants.  The high point of any visit to Belsay is the unique Quarry Garden is a fantasy of ravines, pinnacles and exotic plants, no wonder Belsay Hall is one of the most loved visitor attractions in Northumberland. Don’t miss out on the famously tempting homemade cakes and lunches in the Victorian tearoom!

Click here to visit the website.

Cragside

Cragside, there are 3 gardens to explore; the Pinetum, the Rock Garden and the Formal Garden.  The collection at Cragside is a vast mass of plants not only in terms of numbers but also in their sheer physical size.  Lord and Lady Armstrong directed the planting of seven million trees and shrubs across this dramatic landscape.  It’s a passion they shared, taking a bare and barren hillside and creating a fantasy woodland garden in less than 40 years.  As if this great woodland garden wasn’t enough, they created a horticultural jewel in the form of the Formal Garden.  Plants from around the world are grown here – both tender and hardy – giving even more variety to an already colossal collection.  In spring, brilliant bulbs bloom.  In summer, it’s an exotic extravaganza of tender treasures, which continue into autumn until the first frosts.

In the Rock Garden, you can see Rhododendron ‘Lady Armstrong’ growing on the rock garden, flowering her heart out in early June, it’s named after our Lady Armstrong, raised by the famous nursery of Waterer’s of Bagshot in Surrey c.1870.  The Armstrong’s spent vast amounts of money on plants and these nurseries benefited greatly.  No wonder the nurseries were prepared to name new hybrids after their most valued customers, when you consider the scale of planting at Cragside.

Conifers – native and exotic – are the backbone of this landscape – The Pinetum.  Great drifts of the billowing, crowned, bluey-green Scot’s Pine and the timeless, dark green Yew make up the native contingent. See the information sheet on Cragside in the guest information file for more info on the area.

Click here to read more about Cragside

Howick Hall Gardens and Arboretum

Howick Hall, a Grade II listed building in the village of Howick, Northumberland, England, is the ancestral seat of the Earls Grey.  It was the home of the Prime Minister Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, after whom the famous tea is named.  The original Earl Grey tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin to suit the water at Howick, and was later marketed by Twinings.  The gardens at Howick are deliberately aimed at garden lovers with the extensive grounds offering a wide variety of plants throughout the year and are open from early February until mid-November.

The season starts in early February with the ‘Snowdrop Festival’.  In late March/April there are spectacular drifts of daffodils to be seen throughout the grounds.  In April/May the Woodland Garden is particularly lovely with rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, and the tulips also appear in the wild flower meadows in May.  The formal gardens, including the herbaceous borders and terraces in front of the Hall, come into their own from June onwards.  The Bog Garden lasts from June to September and is mostly planted with unusual herbaceous material grown from seed collected in the wild, which will be of particular interest to dedicated plantsmen.  The late season brings brilliant autumn colour in late September through to mid-November.

Click here to visit their website.

Northumberland National Park

If you don’t fancy visiting a National Trust or English Heritage site, then why not see where the wind takes you and head to the Northumberland National Park.  It’s England’s most tranquil place, whose dramatic hills and sheltered valleys stretch from Hadrian’s Wall to the Scottish Borders.  Enjoy the unique borderland culture and sustainable way of life.
There is so much wildlife to look for in the Park, so any keen bird watchers must pay a visit!  Stop at a local pub and sample some real Northumbrian Ale, and take your dog too!  Many pubs in Northumberland are dog friendly in the bar area.

Click here to read more about the National Park.

Paxton House

Overlooking the majestic River Tweed, Paxton House was originally landscaped in the 18th century by Robert Robinson and now incorporates a large variety of riverside walks, trails and outdoor attractions for visitors to enjoy. As well as the extensive gardens and walks, Paxton House is also a holds a wealth of history within its walls. Discover the history of how this house was built and see the extensive art collection and beautiful furnishings inside.

Click here to visit the website.

Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall is a great house set in its own estate with lovely gardens and a fine collection – yet it is also much more. It is a signpost pointing to the diverse history of a family which acquired land here in the late 11th century. The house occupies the site of a Norman settlement, and its original Norman chapel remains in use today.

Built between 1719 and 1730 for Admiral George Delaval, it is not only the finest house in the north east of England, but also among the finest works of its architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, one of the masters of English Baroque. For 900 years, the estate has been a stage for drama, intrigue and romance while the surrounding landscape has fuelled industrial revolution. The house has survived terrible fires, military occupation and potential ruin. Now it provides an amazing space for arts, heritage and the community to come together.

Click here to visit their website.

Wallington House, Gardens and Estate

Discover Wallington, much-loved home to generations of the unconventional Trevelyan family.  Visit the impressive, yet friendly house, and explore the history of Northumberland in the huge pre-Raphaelite paintings around the remarkable Central Hall.  Be inspired by the beautiful furniture, family paintings and treasured collections.

The Trevelyans loved being outdoors and close to nature and the house is surrounded by an informal landscape of lawns, lakes, woodland, parkland and farmland, just waiting to be explored.  There is even a beautiful walled garden hidden in the woods, a colourful haven of tranquility in all seasons.

There is so much to see and do at Wallington – relax, picnic or play in the grassy courtyard, marvel at Lady Wilson’s Cabinet of Curiosities, look out for woodpeckers at the wildlife hide, see our fascinating collection of dolls’ houses, stretch your legs with a walk on the extensive estate or let off steam in the adventure playground.  There is also a varied, year-round events programme, including fantastic themed events, open-air theatre, guided walks, tours, talks, music, wildlife events and hand-on activities.

Click here to visit their website.

Whalton Manor Gardens

The beautiful house and gardens of Whalton Manor were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll in 1908, set in 3 acres of private, walled garden in the heart of picturesque Northumberland.  A luscious rose garden, densely planted herbaceous borders, ancient walls and pergolas festooned with many varieties of climbing roses and clematis are just some of the delights you will find in this Lutyens’ masterpiece.  This private garden offers peace and tranquility and we believe in going the ‘extra mile’ to ensure your visit to us is a unique and memorable experience.

Click here to visit their website.

Still not sure where to book?

We know Northumberland and all of our cottages inside out, so if you have any particular queries, please don’t hesitate to call or email us. We’re more than happy to help!

Telephone: 01665 710 700 or click here to email us.

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