There is an inscription on a stone staircase in Englefield Gardens which reads, “If you help towards Englefield Garden either in flowers or invention you shall be welcome thither”.
This inscription was taken from a letter written in 1601 by Sir Edward Norris, the then occupier of Englefield House, and shows that a garden was managed and cared for on the Estate over four hundred years ago.
However, the origins of the gardens as they appear today were created in the late 1860’s with the building of the stone balustrades and staircases by Italian craftsmen.
In 1936 the woodland garden on the hill above the house was created by thinning the forest.
At the same time the stream was constructed and the area planted by Wallace & Barr of Tunbridge Wells.
Much of the original planting is still in place and this includes varieties of rhododendron, azalea, camellia, magnolia, hamamelis, parrotia, cornus, davidia and acer.
The lower terrace was redesigned in 1974 by the redoubtable landscape architect Lanning Roper.
The grotto at the top of the stream is a more recent addition to the gardens and is lined with a mosaic of pine cones.
Near the entrance gates is a children's garden with water jets hidden in four small statues as well as slides and swings - great fun for younger visitors.
A walled kitchen garden has recently been restored to produce many varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers (access to the walled kitchen garden is only for groups that book in advance).
The gardens themselves are enclosed by their magnificent deer park and provide stunning views over their lake and surrounding countryside beyond.
Parts of the gardens are terraced or on a hillside making wheelchair access difficult in places.
If the ground is firm (after dry weather), then it would be possible to view much of the gardens.
Dogs must be kept under close control for the safety of other walkers, horses and wildlife - as well as for the dogs themselves.
Early spring when the witch hazel, Camellias, Daphne bhoula ‘Jacquiline Postil’, snowdrops, aconites and daffodils begin to flower.
March onwards to view the spectacular Rhododendrons in their woodland and the candelabra primula lining the stream edge.
May when their woodlands are blanketed with bluebells and their rare and stunning Azaleas bloom.
From late September when the oaks, maples, Liquidambar and other deciduous trees provide a riot of autumn colour.
There are no toilet or refreshment facilities at the gardens.
The village store and tea room in Englefield village is open.
Visit www.englefieldstoresandtearooms.co.uk for more information.
THE ESTATE OFFICE, ENGLEFIELD ROAD, THEALE BERKSHIRE RG7 5DU
Directions to Englefield House & Gardens
ENGLEFIELD, BERKSHIRE RG7 5EN
Exit at junction 12 of the M4 take the A4 in the Newbury direction, go straight across first roundabout, at the next roundabout take the A340 towards Pangbourne, after approx half a mile take the 2nd left in to Englefield Village.
At the end of the village turn right onto the drive and follow the signs to the Long Gallery car park.
(For special occasions and days on which the gardens are open, the house can be accessed via the ornamental gates and drive.
This is 400 yds prior to the Englefield Village turning, also on the left.)