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Visit to The Laskett Garden and Kentchurch Court (18th June 2014)

The Laskett Garden

Thursday, 18th June was a fine, warm summer day and ideal for experiencing two of South Herefordshire's significant attractions. 47 members spent the whole morning at The Laskett Garden, which is, with a few exceptions, only open to Groups. It was designed and created by Sir Roy Strong and his late wife, Julia - with a nod to Hidcote - to transform an overgrown four acre field surrounding their house in Much Birch, which they bought in the 1973. Completed in its original form in the 1990's it has undergone a number of changes since and a substantial "makeover" in the last 2-3 years.

The many garden "rooms" are a delight to explore, with their numerous statues and memorials evoking memories of a very happy and talented marriage: an informal and unusual mélange of flowers, shrubs, box and other hedges, trees and hard landscape features, which must change dramatically as the seasons progress. The newly-installed "podcasts" delivering an introduction, via headphones, to each main feature are an excellent innovation.

Sir Roy was on hand, keeping an eye on his labour of love, and in conversation it was evident how great is his pride in his and Julia's renowned creation.

Kentchurch Court

38 members moved on to Kentchurch. The Scudamore family have been major Herefordshire landowners for time immemorial, tracing their roots back to 1047 when Ralph Scudamore came over from Normandy. Nestling under Garway Hill, the Kentchurch Court estate (5,000 acres) has been in the family for nearly 1,000 years. The present house is largely the result of a modernisation and extension in the late 18th /early 19th C., though parts date back to much earlier.

We were provided with a very enjoyable lunch in the elegant Dining Room, watched over by the portraits of many former family members. We were then treated, in two groups, to fascinating tours of the house and its diverse contents, led by either Jan Lucas-Scudamore, the present delightfully informal incumbent, or by another lady steeped in the history of the house and Jan's forbears.

The party was then free to roam the colourful gardens and, for the more adventurous, the woodland and streamside walks.

Philip Blunden

© The Arts Society Ross-on-Wye or the originator