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Gardens with star quality

Lewis Townsend
By Lewis Townsend

It’s not unusual for England’s evocative country houses to feature in film and TV, but as it happens, their gardens are no stranger to the spotlight, too.

England is home to a huge range of beautiful gardens you can visit, and there are few things more enchanting than taking a leisurely stroll through them. Often passionately and meticulously managed, they’re vibrant and colourful spaces for much of the year. And some look strangely familiar as they’ve been used as the backdrop for some of our favourite television shows. If you’re looking for your next day out, look no further than these gardens with star quality. What’s more, CPRE members get discounted entry at each of them!

Ilford Manor Gardens, Wiltshire

Evergreen plants out side the Great Terrace at Ilford Manor Garden
Parts of Sanditon (2019) are filmed at Ilford Manor Garden. | / Alamy Stock Photo

Famed for its history, tranquillity and beauty, Ilford Manor Gardens is a regular film and TV location. Most recently, it featured in The Secret Garden (2020) and Sanditon (2019-). It’s the former home of Edwardian landscape designer Harold Peto, and on a visit here you can expect pools, terraces, sculptures, evergreen planting as well as beautiful views of rural Wiltshire.

CPRE members get 2 adult tickets for the price of one (not including special events or charity days). Be sure to book in advance and remember to bring your CPRE membership card with you.

Explore Ilford Manor Gardens 

Rousham House and Gardens, Oxfordshire

Flower lined pathway at Rousham Gardens
Rousham Garden has barely changed since 1735. |

Situated near Bicester in Oxfordshire, the Rousham Gardens were created by William Kent in 1735, and has barely been altered since! It’s a beautifully landscaped green space, with lush herbaceous borders, soft fruit trees trained against ancient walls, and a spectacular seven-arched collonade called ‘Praeneste’. The gardens featured in the 2021 BBC adaptation of The Pursuit of Love.

CPRE members get two for the price of one on garden admission – so be sure to visit this influential and historic garden.

Explore Rousham Gardens 

Painshill Landscape Garden, Surrey

The man-made crystal grotto at Painshill Landscape Garden
The crystal grotto at Painshill. | Kevin White / Alamy Stock Photo

An award-winning landscape garden full of eclectic delights, such as an 18th century crystal grotto, gothic tower and a 14-acre lake. The gardens feature a huge range of interesting flora, and is home to the largest multi-stemmed cedar in Europe, and an oak tree which is over 450 years old. This intriguing garden provided an elegant backdrop for Netflix’s Bridgerton (2020-).

CPRE members can enjoy two adult tickets for the price of one (excludes special events).

Explore Painshill Gardens

Dalemain Mansion and Historic Gardens, Cumbria

Himalayan Blue Poppies in full bloom
Himalayan blue poppies are one of the rare flowers you can find at Dalemain.

Located in Penrith, the gardens at Dalemain have been in the same family since 1679. A five acre species-rich garden features a range of interesting flora, including the famous meconopsis blue poppy. The gardens have been chosen as the setting for a huge range of productions, including Where the Heart Is, The Hairy Bikers Comfort Food, and the BBC comedy Home from Home.

CPRE members get two tickets for the price of one (excludes special events).

Explore Dalemain Historic Gardens 

Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden, Kent

If you like a wander round around a garden, Lullingstone Castle has you covered, especially with its world garden that features plants grouped in their natural setting. And it’s got some terrifying cacti corralled in their own cactus house.

Large cactus with corks on its spikes
Tamed in the cactus house at Lullingstone. | CPRE

Although the renovation of the gardens starred in their own right in a series on BBC2, its star quality also comes from its family connection to actor and comedian Miranda Hart. Tom Hart Dyke, who created the world garden, is the 20th generation of the Hart Dykes to live at the castle.

And if the weather isn’t so great, there’s the house to tour and the tea tent. There are also special event days worth looking out for, especially if you have children. CPRE members get half price entry, excluding event days.

Explore Lullingstone

Find other gardens you can visit with discounted entrance for CPRE members.

Tom Hart Dyke smiles while tending to his plants at Lullingstone Castle
Tom Hart Dyke tends to his plants at Lullington horst friedrichs / Alamy Stock Photo


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