Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Ashford: Godinton House & Gardens

We want to apologise for abandoning our blogging for a while but I (Hannah) have a very good excuse in the form of a little human which has kept me busy! Now I am a mummy our blog will take a slightly different route and focus on baby/child friendly tearooms, coffee shops and cafes along with buggy friendly places for a relaxing stroll. The first review was on a lovely warm Friday when myself and my mummy friends along with our mini humans ventured to Godinton House just outside of Ashford for an afternoon out. Following the brown tourist signs we trundled along the lanes until the impressive entrance gate came into view.

Rattling over the cattle grids, the long driveway to the house winds its way through ancient parkland studded with magnificent Oak and Chestnut trees. Once the Jacobean house comes into view it feels like driving into a period drama.  A crisp clipped Yew hedge surrounds the impressive red brick house, as unobtrusive signs point me to the car park. It already has a feel of being a hidden gem, a bit like Ashburnham Place Orangery Tearooms. The estate extends to around 900 acres made up of farmland, forestry, houses and cottages.

The ticket office is housed in the old stable block with the old stalls set up with chairs and tables for when the tearoom is closed. Purchasing a good value season ticket for £18 (normal entry to the gardens is £5) we picked up a map and headed off to explore. The gardens extend to 12 acres and are surrounded by the ancient parkland, making it feel very tranquil.

Being a week day we pretty much had the place to ourselves and it felt very untouristy and quiet. The gardens are maintained to a very high standard with gravel paths cutting through freshly mown lawns with neatly trimmed box hedging.

Walking along the path with our prams, we went past a large lily pond flanked by some huge Weeping Willows, on past the Italian garden and into the wild garden. Magnificent Magnolia trees in full bloom and a blanket of Narcissus waft their sweet pollen on the breeze as we amble along the mown path through the wild grasses, spotting lots of welcoming looking benches where we could sit.

Access for pushchairs is decent, some of the gravel paths giving the pram pushers a bit of a work out but on the whole we could get to all areas of the garden. The gardens have been beautifully restored to Reginald Blomfield's 1898 design and are continually maintained by the hard working gardening team.

We spent a good few hours wandering around and admiring the unspoilt view with birds tweeting and wafts of blossom hitting our nostrils. It's hard to believe this place is a stones throw from Ashford and we are already planning on coming back very soon with a picnic so we can sit down and enjoy the peace and tranquillity.

The walled kitchen garden was my favourite part of the gardens with its huge greenhouse and lovingly maintained beds. Deciding to head to the tearooms, we trundled along the paths back towards the house. The tearooms can be found in the billiard room and following the signpost we headed in.

It's open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with light refreshments being served in the ticket office the remainder of the week. The room itself is very grand with huge portraits on the walls and a magnificent chandelier taking centre stage.

Being a quiet day we managed to get four prams into the room and around a table. The staff were very friendly and accommodating and made us feel welcome. Refreshments on offer included hot drinks and various cakes and bakes, with a chocolate orange cake being that days special. Once ordered we chatted and tended to the little ones whilst waiting for our goodies to arrive.

We didn't have to wait long. A few of us went for the cream tea which was good value at £5 per person. Two plump warm scones with a dish each of strawberry jam and clotted cream were served alongside piping hot tea. The scones were delicious, I could have eaten it all again! After our pit stop we headed off to do a nappy change before heading home. The disabled loo functions as a baby change with a very good large fold down change station.
The Verdict? Hidden Gem
A good value and gorgeous place to come for an afternoon with or without the offspring. A season ticket (season is April-October) offers great value and will be our go to place for a chilled out afternoon. Staff are very friendly, we felt welcomed and enjoyed our first visit. On busy days the tearoom would be best tackled with a baby carrier rather than the prams but we will probably bring a picnic anyway. Overall my new favourite place to spend a few hours.
Godinton House
Godinton Lane
TN23 3BP
House and tearoom 3rd April - 4th October 1pm - 5pm Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays plus Bank Holiday Mondays
Gardens 1st March - 1st November 1pm - 6pm
House & Gardens £9 children under 16 free
Gardens only £5 children under 16 free

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