The Tollemache family has lived in Suffolk since the Norman Conquest and Helmingham Hall has been the family home of successive generations since its completion in 1510. Although the hall itself is not open to the public, you can view most of its external features across an 18 metre (60 foot)-wide moat stocked with fish.
The historic house acts as an impressive backdrop to internationally acclaimed Grade I listed gardens, where visitors can admire the immaculate flora and fauna on display. Although parts of the garden may date back to Saxon times, much of what is seen nowadays has been inspired by the present Lady Tollemache, herself
a renowned garden designer.
A stroll through the delightful parterre and hybrid musk garden at Helmingham Hall is particularly rewarding. So too, the old wall kitchen garden, where neat grassy paths separate herbaceous and seasonal borders containing a combination of flowers which bloom and blend together. In 1982, a new patterned herb and knot garden was created with plants historically sympathetic to the house. Using plants such as sweet peas, runner beans and hanging gourds, arched tunnels have been arranged among the vegetable plots, offering new walks and vistas.
Elsewhere, there is a wild flower garden and orchard to view, plus an attractive walk through a green sward of blossoming apple trees. Beyond the gardens is 400 acres of parkland where large herds of red and fallow deer roam. Sited among the greenery are gnarled oak trees, some with immense girths and reputed to be over 900 years old.
Don’t miss: the two drawbridges over the moat that are raised and lowered daily.
Helmington Hall, Helmingham, Stowmarket, Suffolk
tel: 01473 258070