First posted January 2013
Tapeley Park house and gardens is a unique and fascinating place, on the road between Barnstaple and Bideford.
Tapeley Park house, seen from the Italian terrace garden.
The estate has been in the same family since the 1700’s, and is now owned by local anti-corporate campaigner and political activist, Hector Christie, who runs it on a sustainable basis, and he is proud of his Green credentials, supplying the local community – as well as the estate cafe – with organic vegetables, and using recycled materials wherever possible.
The house has it’s own claim to fame – the fact that it has an important collection of William Morris furniture – ironically preserved over the years, due to the house being unheated and mainly closed up for years, as revealed on a C4 documentary.
But it has always been the grounds – which include a Victorian kitchen garden and experimental permaculture garden – that make us go back time and again.
The lake is a beautiful place for a picnic.
Many exotic plants grow in the mild, sheltered climate.
Neatly trimmed arbours lead you on…
…to surprises around each corner.
There are animals too. Apart from the wildlife scurrying in the undergrowth, the estate keeps rare breed pigs, sheep, and highland cattle.
Three little pigs.
The hard landscaping has been lovingly restored, most notably on the steps leading down to the Italian terrace garden…
…and yet, there are still echoes of the past, lending a eerie calm to quiet, reflective corners.
There is even a labyrinth, made from the stone shards of an exploded obelisk, victim of a 1931 lightning strike.
A fascinating and, in some indefinable way, enchanted place, it’s somewhere to return to again and again, always discovering something new.
If you’re ever down this way, why not go and see for yourself, you never know what you might find…