Everyone loves a bit of culture, right? Lose yourself for a day - or an afternoon - in the grounds of one of these seven stunning historic homes and/or gardens that we are lucky enough to have in Herefordshire (but you probably didn't even know about):
Herefordshire\'s historic homes sit deep in the English countryside. As well as visiting these picturesque and historically important buildings, you can often wander their extensive gardens. With the weather warming up and evenings getting longer, could there be a better time to enjoy these delights? Here are our recommendations.
1. Hergest Croft Gardens, Kington
Hergest Croft Gardens is situated in the heart of the Welsh Marches with stunning views towards the Black Mountains. There\'s an old fashioned kitchen garden, an Azalea Garden, Maple Grove, and Park Wood to discover, as well as a gift shop and tearooms.
The gardens are now open until the end of October 12 from noon until 5.30pm. Dogs are welcome on leads. Entrance for adults is £6.50 and is free for children under 16.
Head to www.hergest.co.uk for more information.
2. Hellens, Much Marcle
Hellens\' romantic English garden incorporates a rare 17th century octagonal dovecot, a labyrinth, woodland and ponds, as well as herb and kitchen gardens.
The house itself is still a family home, but unlike yours and mine, this one contains extensive period furnishings, paintings and decorations. Among the popular attractions is the \'ghost\' of a family priest killed by Roundheads who roams the bedroom prepared for Mary Tudor, and a great fireplace bearing the Black Prince’s crest in the home\'s Stone Hall.
Hellens is open on Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Monday afternoons. Entry is by guided tour only (1pm, 2pm and 3pm), but tour times may vary during Hellensmusic in May, the Garden Festival on June 11 and 12 and the Big Apple event in October.
Entry is £9 for adults, £7.50 concessions and students, £5 children, or £20 for a family ticket (two adults and three children). Entry to the gardens only is £2.50 per person. You\'ll find more information at hellensmanor.com.
3. Wilton Castle, near Ross-on-Wye
Wilton Castle is on the banks of the River Wye less than a mile from Ross. The romantic ruins of a restored 12th century castle and 16th century manor house (which isn\'t open to the public) form the ideal backdrop for the gardens blooming with herbaceous borders, old-fashioned roses and gravel gardens. The 2 acre gardens are surrounded by a dry moat which leads down to the Wye.
Wilton Castle is believed to have been constructed out of local red sandstone in the second half of the 12th century replacing a Motte and Bailey.
During 2016 the castle is open to visitors between 12pm and 5pm from May 30 to June 5. Entry is £5 for adults, £2.50 for children aged 11 to 16, and free for children under 11. Entry is free for English Heritage members. Head to www.wiltoncastle.eclipse.co.uk for more information.
4. Hampton Court Castle and Gardens
Hampton Court Castle and Gardens, located between Hereford and Leominster (close to the junction of the A49 and A417), comprises of a 15th Century medieval castle, award-winning gardens within 1,000 acres of parkland.
The gardens are open from 10.30am to 5pm every day until October 31. Entry is £8.50 for adults, senior citizens £7.50, children from 5 to 14 years £4.75, or a family ticket for £24. Tickets for both garden entrance and the castle tour are £13 or adults, senior citizens £11.50, children from 5 to 14 years £7.25, or a family ticket for £36.50.
If you want to look inside the castle, best to check ahead as tours aren\'t available if the building has been rented for a private function. Head to www.hamptoncourt.org.uk for details.
5. Berrington Hall, near Leominster
A neo-classical mansion set in landscaped grounds, Berrington Hall was created as \'the perfect house in the perfect setting\'. It\'s one of the first houses designed by Henry Holland (1745 – 1806) and today\'s visitors can explore family rooms as they were, find out how servants moved around the house without being seen by family or guests. Interiors at Berrington include Biaggio Rebecca ceilings and some pieces on display from the Wade Collection.
The house is surrounded by Capability Brown\'s final landscape making 2016 - the 300th anniversary of Brown\'s birth - the ideal time to visit.
The garden, park, shop, and tea room are open from 10am to 5pm and the mansion is open from 11am to 5pm. More info here.
6. Croft Castle, near Leominster
Croft Castle sits surrounded by 1500 acres of historic woodland, farm and parkland. Home to the Croft family for nearly 1000 years, this castle has many powerful stories to uncover. Explore the working walled garden complete with historic orchards and vineyard and take a peak inside the 1908 glasshouse restoration project. Look out for the Georgian stable block and discover some of the stories of how horses were cared for during the war years. Take a stroll through the parkland up to the Iron Age hill fort for far reaching views including the Brecon Beacons or follow one of the woodland trails and find over 300 veteran trees along the way.
Visit here for more information including pricing.
7. Brockhampton Estate, near Bromyard
The National Trust-managed Brockhampton is open all year round but in spring, it bursts into life. Babies animals are born on the farms and new shoots and flowers are blooming across the estate. In school holidays there are family activities and events inspired by the historic home\'s history and wildlife. Take a bag with you and pick some of the estate\'s juicy damsons to take home.
Find out more at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brockhampton-estate