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& Gardens

Circa 1157

“The best family home + Gardens we have found. It was a pleasure to see.J.G.A. Corby

"Very helpful guides and  interesting house". E. Vincent,  Hampshire

“Beautiful”.  F.deB. Netherlands

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©Hartland Abbey 2014 I Press & Reviews I Accessibility and Cookie policy I Contact I Email
Hartland Abbey. Hartland, Bideford, North Devon.
EX39 6DT. UK I Tel +44(0)1237 441234 or 441496


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The Abbey Gardens
Hartland Abbey House & Gardens

From 1157-1539 the Augustinian canons lived and gardened in this hidden paradise. In the 18th century woodland gardens were created on either side of the Abbey with woodland walks leading to walled gardens, built to be sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic gales. In the late 19th and early 20th century Gertrude Jekyll was a frequent guest at the Abbey and was instrumental in helping Lady Stucley create the intimate paths and small terraces of the Baronet’s Bog Garden, Victorian Fernery and Camellia Garden.

Hartland Abbey House & Gardens Hartland Abbey House & Gardens Hartland Abbey House & Gardens

In 1996 on the death of Lady Stucley the present owners, Sir Hugh and Lady Stucley started a programme of more clearing and replanting. Huge areas of bramble and thick undergrowth were cleared and the Victorian Fernery, lost since 1914, re-emerged almost unscathed from almost a century of neglect. Many small Jekyll paths and terraces have also been uncovered. Now being replanted. 'Entering through clipped topiary, you can see vegetables and fruit growing for the house and for sale etc. The Walled Gardens had become neglected, but in 1997 work started to remove the perennial weeds and in 1998 they were opened as an ongoing project. Now they are flourishing again and visitors will see many exciting new plantings.

Hartland Abbey House & Gardens

The woodland gardens are full of spring colour with camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and many bulbs all bursting into colour from Christmas onwards in this mild climate. Following these many beautiful hydrangeas and eucryphias start flowering in July, the hydrangeas often flowering until the gardens close.

The winding paths in the Baronet’s Bog Garden, only recently uncovered from nearly a century of neglect, lead the visitor to huge camellias, Cornish Red rhododendrons, massive gunnera, hostas, primulas, astilbe, zantedeschia (arum lilies), hydrangeas and the Victorian Fernery. A very old acer, twisted and gnarled from a century’s growth of ivy and bramble hiding it, stands at the entrance to the Fernery.

The ‘Ladies Walk’ through woodland carpeted with wildflowers in spring, leads visitors to the four secret 18th C Walled Gardens. Now being replanted, they contain vegetables and fruit for the house and for sale, many tender and rare plants, summer perennials and shrubs. Echium pininana, growing to 15ft in a good year, flourishes here. It had lain dormant for over ten years until the ground was worked again in 1997! Two large glasshouses were lost in some particularly violent Atlantic gales many years ago but three remain containing tomatoes, geraniums and tender plants for the visitor to see. We would hope one day to rebuild at least one of the larger ones.

Also visit out Garden Picture Gallery page

Hartland Abbey House & Gardens

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 the garden staff of 15 all but disappeared and the gardens and grounds became overgrown and virtually lost until the 1950’s when Sir Dennis and Lady Stucley, both keen and knowledgeable gardeners, with a skeleton staff, started to clear some of the Woodland Gardens and part of the Walled Gardens. They planted much of the large collection of camellias, hydrangeas and eucryphias; they cleared large areas of bamboo and replanted many rhododendrons and azaleas which were removed from Moreton House at Bideford, another Stucley home, later Grenville College.


Walk to the Sea