Ickworth – National Trust

239 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

November, 2017

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Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

It has to be said that much of Italy has grey and gloomy weather in November, but only in England can it seem altogether dreary. A little geometry, a few statement trees, and all can be transformed, however.

Ickworth has had reason enough to be be gloomy: box blight and loss of its yew hedging, for example. Trenches now replace the hedgerows and new plants stand along the paths awaiting not just planting but the generosity of National Trust members to sponsor the work. Outside in the grounds sheep graze and the beech trees represent the nearest idea available of sunshine. Inside the house, at one end is the restaurant, where most visitors had gathered, and at the other end the hotel and spa.

I had the garden almost to myself, which gave time enough to appreciate how much needed to be done. A few penstemon offered colour along one border, with the pruned back box beginning to regenerate; viburnum seemed the only flowering shrub close to the house. The tree ferns were polythene wrapped for winter. This is the time for structural plants, tall slender cypress and a skeletal monkey puzzle, which would have stood against a contrasting background of beech earlier in the month; this was now almost denuded. Across the lawns the small temple-like buildings offered no sanctuary.
The house is impressive but to many eyes unlovely. Nonetheless it has its fine setting, whether from the garden or the sweeping front approach. There again are some of the finest trees in the region.

With more time I would have taken one of the long walks through varied woodland, but there was at least enough opportunity to appreciate planning for the winter work. Come next spring the experience will be different, and well worth recalling how much needed to be done.


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