Elton Hall, Cambridgeshire

Top 10 Gardens to visit in East Anglia

Helmingham Hall

Just as impressive as its glassy moat are the gardens of Helmingham Hall, designed and maintained by award-winning garden designer, Lady Xa Tollemache. Populated by a herd of red deer, Helmingham Hall’s spectacular gardens are made up of roughly twelve different areas – some containing fruit; others flowers, vegetables or herbs – all elegantly interconnected by bridges and walkways.

Where to stay: Base yourself in the historic town of Framlingham, equipped with a 12th century castle. The Round House might be small, but offers all the luxury you need for a cosy night’s stay in charming surroundings.

Where to eat: If you want a real local experience with rural country chic, no one does it better than The Queen at Brandeston. Local means rooting in the back garden for the very freshest seasonal vegetables in this quaint and rustic eatery.

Pensthorpe

Pensthorpe is home to three delightful wildlife-rich gardens by award-winning designers, stunning meadow and a lakeside environment with year-round interest and growth. There's the Wildlife Habitat Garden, the innovative Wave Line Garden, structural beauty of the acclaimed Millennium Garden or you can take a relaxing stroll through the Norfolk countryside in the tranquil Wildflower Meadow.

Where to eat: How about going to Walsingham Farm Shop stocking up on home-made cheeses, breads and savouries and having a picnic on the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea.

Where to stay: Stay up on the coast at The Blakeney Hotel and next morning take a trip to see the seals at Blakeney Point.

Ickworth House & Gardens

Ickworth House offers a slice of classical Italy in Suffolk: its neoclassical rotunda houses treasures collected from tours around 18th century Europe, while its Italianate gardens, to a great extent created by Capability Brown, are the earliest in England. Special highlights include a magical stumpery made from dead trees, and a seasonal meadow whose flowers change naturally depending on which month you visit.

Where to stay: We couldn’t make it any easier. Step next door into the Ickworth Hotel for luxury at its grandest. 

Where to eat: Chic and understated, Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds is classy without ever being ostentatious. Recently it was named among the top ten fine dining restaurants in Britain, coming higher in the list than 2-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche.

East Ruston Old Vicarage

One of the county's best-kept gardens has to be the East Ruston Old Vicarage. A privately owned garden, it is open for public viewing so visitors can see the love and attention that has been put into a wonder collection of gardens from exotic to woodland and plants from desert cacti to prehistoric tree ferns.

Where to eat: The Ingham Swan is an award-winning pub featuring local ingredients. Why not try the seven course tasting menu.

Where to stay: The Beechwood is a country house hotel in the quaint market town of North Walsham.

Somerleyton Hall & Gardens

Set in the picture-perfect village of Somerleyton, north of Lowestoft, this elegant Victorian hall is surrounded by exquisite gardens. You can lose yourself in the yew maze, reportedly one of the finest in Britain, relax in the walled garden, walk through the 70ft blossom pergola, or admire the ornate greenhouses, built by the architect of Crystal Palace.

Where to stay: If you’re here with a group, stay on the Estate’s woodland lodges to really embrace the natural surroundings on your doorstep. Take a walk around Fritton Lake, and keep an eye out for additional activities during the summer.

Where to eat: Relaxed, eclectic and rustic amply describes the Fritton Arms near the Somerleyton Estate.

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is a secret hideaway in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. Wonderful woodland walks, gardens rich in wildlife with an eclectic mix of native and cultivated plantings plus a private broad.

Where to eat: The picturesque Fur & Feather Inn is the brewery tap of Woodforde’s Brewery – have a big Yorkshire Pudding filled with onion gravy and beef.

Where to stay: Sprowston Manor Hotel is on the edge of the Broads and less than four miles from Norwich too.

 

Fullers Mill Garden

The founder of Fullers Mill Garden has spent over 60 years crafting its 7 acres into a diminutive paradise of woodland, flowerbeds and hedgerows, all intersected by the babbling River Lark. It’s a fantastic place to see rare plants that don’t grow wild in England. The garden is open several days a week from April to late September. A tour might be a more insightful way to enjoy this beautiful ‘garden’.

Where to stay: Cool, luxurious, and with a slight Scandinavian feel, Tuddenham Mill is close to Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds, two places to have great Suffolk adventures. 

Where to eat: As Tuddenham Mill is a celebrated eatery, we suggest you stay put. Not satisfied with being included in the Good Hotel Guide, it is also rated as one of the best eating establishments in Suffolk.

Couple walking towards Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Blickling Hall & Gardens

The National Trust's Blickling Hall has 55 acres of topiary, sweeping lawns, herbaceous borders, temple and lake. There's something to see in the garden all year round. Don't miss the fragrant beds of the parterre and inspiring double borders. You'll find hellebores and primroses, daffodils and bluebells, azaleas and rhododendron, wisteria and peonies as well as quiet places to sit and enjoy the view.

Where to eat: You won’t have far to go for the traditional Buckinghamshire Arms – it’s in the grounds of Blickling!

Where to stay: Manorwood is a lovely B&B set in 3 acres, and with a swimming pool.

Holywells Park

Nestled near the banks of the River Orwell in Ipswich, Holywells Park is a 67-acre haven of greenery in the centre of Suffolk’s historic county town. A recent £3.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund Parks has meant the renovation of Holywells’ walled garden, which is now awash with colour and scent, and of the garden’s Victorian conservatory. A new visitor centre and café have also been built, meaning you can get a bite to eat after a walk in the park. There’s even a shop selling refurbished donated bicycles!

Where to stay: Right on Ipswich’s marina waterfront stands the Salthouse Harbour Hotel. Expect modern art and design, and knock-out views to boot.

Where to eat: The Mariners is a floating French brasserie moored in Ipswich’s iconic marina.

Gooderstone Water Gardens

The Gooderstone Water Gardens, close to Swaffham is a chance to immerse yourself in six acres of gardens with a natural trout stream, four ponds, waterways, thirteen bridges, grass paths and nature trails, mature trees and shrubs.

Where to eat: Cocoes Deli in Swaffham has superb home-made fare.

Where to stay: Strattons is a delightful and quirky French-style country house in Swaffham.