IT'S THE WEEKEND: Ornate Chepstow gardens open for Easter

First published in News

CHEPSTOW's Grade II listed Wyndcliffe Court gardens will be opening specially for the Easter weekend with an arts and crafts fair and a treasure hunt among the activities to enjoy.

The gardens, in St Arvans, will be open from 11am until 5pm daily from Friday, April 18 to Monday, April 21 with free entry for families to enjoy.

After the success of their Christmas craft fair, Wyndcliffe will host a second arts and crafts fair in the ornate Oak Ballroom, featuring stalls from a host of local producers and craftsmen.

From handmade jewellery to intricate glassware, the fair will be full of creative gift ideas and treats and will be open on Sunday, April 20, and Bank Holiday Monday, April 21, from 11am to 4pm.

Wyndcliffe Court’s tearooms will also be open all weekend, serving a variety of hot and cold refreshments and homemade snacks and lunches including a selection of their infamous homemade cakes.

While at the gardens you can go for a leisurely stroll around the gardens, and see the progress and restoration that has been taking place throughout the winter.

Wyndcliffe Court opens officially for summer on May 2 with their spring sculpture show and will then be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday (including bank holidays) until the last weekend in September.

The venue will welcome more than 35 sculptors, with more than 300 artworks to exhibit in each of their three seasonal shows.

The arts and crafts-style house just outside Chepstow was designed by Eric Francis and built for Charles Clay in 1922. The house stands on high ground facing south, with views southward over the coastal plain and Bristol Channel.

Clay commissioned Henry Avray Tipping to design a garden to the south and west of the house. Francis and Tipping were used to collaborating, for Francis was the architect of two of Tipping's own houses. Their familiarity is evident at Wyndcliffe, where the house and garden sit happily together.

The garden, with its toppling yew topiary, sun-warmed stone walls, formal terracing, trickling fountain and bowling-green lawn, bears all the hallmarks of Tipping's designs.

It is a much larger garden than Tipping's own at High Glanau, but it has the same generous proportions and comfortable, domestic feel.

The garden is laid out on the slope to the south side of the house, overlooking the Severn estuary. Its core is formal, with a stone paved side terrace running the full length of the house, and a stone pergola at its eastern end.

The house stands above a broad south-facing terrace, where capsizing mounds of clipped yew jostle among stone-edged flowerbeds and water drips from an elegant dolphin wall fountain. The interface between the smooth grass of the bowling green below the terrace gives way to shady paths through the woods, creating exactly the contrast between cultivation and natural landscape that Tipping loved.

From the west end of the terrace, the view is crowded with wonderfully uneven topiary forms. Beyond them is the sunken garden, a sun trap with sides cut into shallow terraces and an elegant, stone lily pond at its centre. A summerhouse stands on the south-west corner of the sunken garden. It stands in the corner of a high revetment wall with wonderful views to the south, the lower floor was formerly used as a mushroom house. From the summerhouse, you can view the walled vegetable and cutting garden as well as a view through the shelterbelt to the south.

Although the interior of the house is not open to the public, it remains almost unaltered in the intervening years. Its fine presence and stunning views are complimented by the beautiful formal gardens.

For details, visit www.wyndcliffecourt.co.uk, email info@wyndcliffecourt.co.uk or call 01291 621242.

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