External Event: Somerset Gardens Trust Visit to Northern Ireland
Sunday, May 19, 2019


Somerset Gardens Trust visit to Gardens in Northern Ireland 19th - 23rd May 2019

Our tour to gardens in Northern Ireland is based at The Dunadry Hotel, Dunadry, Antrim, BT41 2HA. tel 028 9443 4343,  which has recently been taken over by the McKeever group and has undergone a refit, in a separate building there is a heated swimming pool and spa. We spend four nights at the hotel, with dinner and breakfast.

Sunday, May 19th arrive at Belfast International Airport where we will be met by our coach and drive to Antrim Castle Gardens, BT41 4LH and Clotworthy House. Home of the Massereene family these gardens are said to be the most historically intact in the UK. We drive on to our hotel for a welcome drink and dinner.

Monday, May 20th leave our hotel for Hillsborough Castle, built in 1770’s by Wills Hill, Ireland’s largest landowner, first Marquess of Downshire and Secretary of State to the American Colonies. We hope to have a guided tour of the state rooms and be free to explore the gardens. The walled garden has recently been restored and should open at the end of April 2019. Coffee. Then we move on to Ballyedmond Castle, home of Lady Ballyedmond. This garden, tucked below the Mountains of Mourne overlooks Carlingford Loch to Eire. There we will have a delicious afternoon tea, then after a guided tour of the extensive gardens we return to the hotel for dinner.

Tuesday, May 21st we drive to the Clandeboye Estate, the home of Lindy Guinness, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava. Designed by Robert Woodgate between 1801 and 1804, Woodgate joined Sir John Soane’s practice in London as an apprentice. We will have a guided tour around the gardens which include a bee garden with a variety of old Irish apples, a conservatory garden and walk in the park where there are many fine trees. Coffee/tea and scones. There is a short drive to Mount Stewart, the famous garden of Edith, Lady Londonderry, this garden has been voted one of the world’s top ten gardens. We will have a guided tour of the formal gardens; the house is open to visit.  There is a café where members may purchase lunch and drinks and an extensive garden for the energetic.

Wednesday, May 22nd we make an early start for the Grey Abbey estate, home of William and Daphne Montgomery, which has been in their family’s ownership since 1607.  The house was built in 1762, the unusual cantilevered dividing staircase was added in1790. Gothic windows in the drawing room were added in 1793 when Hugh Montgomery married Emilia Ward, daughter of the first Viscount Bangor. There is a Southern Hemisphere garden which holds part of the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens collection of plants and seeds, some of which have been collected by the owners on their travels. Walled garden, vegetable garden and shrub rose borders. Coffee. We travel further south to take the ferry at Portaferry and on to Castle Ward.  Built in the 1760’s by Bernard Ward, first Viscount Bangor it has two different styles, classic and gothic, to accommodate the wishes of the first owner and his wife. There is a sunken exotic garden and recently restored parterre. Members may visit the house or walk to the loch and visit the C16th Tower House. There is a café where members can buy lunch. We finish the afternoon at Rowallane Garden, planted in the 1860’s by the Reverend John Moore and later his nephew, the formal gardens are filled with native and exotic plants and there are drifts of rare rhododendrons.

Thursday, May 23rd those travelling home by air to Bristol today should place their luggage on the coach before leaving our hotel. We travel into Belfast to visit Belfast Botanic Garden and the newly refurbished Ravine Garden full of exotic planting. We then drive to The Crown  Bar, an outstanding example of a Victorian Gin Palace, purchased by the National Trust in 1978. We will have a pub lunch before taking our coach to the airport and dropping those, not travelling today, back at the hotel. 

Members may make their own travel arrangements by booking a seat on the designated Easy Jet flight from Bristol to Belfast International airport which will be met by our coach: - departing from Bristol Airport on Sunday, May 19th at 13.10pm flight no EZY 445 arriving at Belfast International at 14.20pm. Please make sure you have a place on the tour before booking your flight.

Returning from Belfast International at 18.10pm flight no EZY 448 arriving at Bristol airport at 19.15pm on Thursday, May 23rd or by extending their holiday and taking a ferry or hiring a car at the airport. Dunadry Hotel, is happy to fit in with member’s travel plans. .

·         A list will be sent of members contact details to help facilitate travel to Bristol airport and parking.

·         Members please note that most of these gardens are extensive; there is a lot of walking and you will be on your feet most of the day except when in the coach or having coffee/lunch. Sensible walking shoes are essential. I have been very lucky with the weather for the last two years but that doesn’t mean I will be for a third year! Please bring waterproofs etc. Please make sure you have your own travel insurance and that you take reasonable care during the visits. Neither Somerset Gardens Trust nor its officers accept any liability for accidents.

Please telephone Camilla before proceeding to make sure there is a hotel room available  and then return the application form, including a deposit of £150 per person as soon as possible . Single rooms are limited and it would help if people could share. All bookings will be acknowledged either by e-mail or telephone please include a sae if you would like a paper receipt.

Camilla Carter, Honeywick House, Nr Castle Cary, BA7 7LP tel 01963 351106

e-mail cchoneywick@hotmail.co.uk

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