It’s always nice to discover a National Trust property that’s not too far from home, that we’ve not been to before. We were invited to an outdoor performance of Gangsta Granny during the summer holidays, but the awful weather meant that the show was cancelled so last weekend was our first chance to spend the afternoon exploring Ascott House and Gardens. The property is only open in the afternoons from March-September and we were lucky enough to visit just before it closed for this year. It’s definitely one to add to your to-do list for 2020 if you’ve not been before.
Situated on the outskirts of Wing, near Leighton Buzzard in Buckinghamshire, we spent a lovely afternoon exploring Ascott House and Gardens in the late summer sunshine. It’s a hidden gem and one we thoroughly enjoyed. We’d been given vouchers to use in the tea room, so headed there as soon as it opened for lunch.
My son tucked into a freshly made egg mayonnaise sandwich, whilst my OH and I both enjoyed a jacket potato. We also returned later in the day for a slice of cake. We can confirm that the Caramel cake is divine!
Entry to Ascott House itself is by timed tickets only, so we’d picked those up at the entrance and opted for the first available timeslot of the afternoon so we had plenty of time to enjoy the extensive gardens. The house is still the country residence of the de Rothschild family, and as such, no photography is allowed inside the property. Although it’s full of beautiful paintings and furniture it feels far more homely than the decadence of Waddesdon Manor.
Dating from the early 1600s, the half timber-framed building is rather impressive.
Having an active nine year old with us meant that our time exploring Ascott House and Gardens was mostly spent outdoors. The grounds are stunning and there are lots of different areas to enjoy. Some parts do have signs asking you to keep off the grass, but there’s still plenty of space for young stick men to enjoy roaming free.
There’s a free tree trail to explore, which doubles as a great way to encourage younger children to enjoy visiting all of the grounds too.
My son’s at that contrary age, where you mention a trail and he gives you the ‘I’m too old for that’ look, and then five minutes later you catch him running around trying to find the next tree in the trail. Not too old after all then it would appear.
We all loved discovering different areas of the garden and the Lily Pond makes such a good place to start.
It always impresses me how quickly my son finds a stick to carry, they seem to get a bit longer on every trip out we make these days. Apparently they came in handy to check the depth of the water on this adventure.
The area is so tranquil and the reflection on the water was just perfect. A great start to our time exploring Ascott House and Gardens.
From the lily pond, you walk through into Lynn Garden, which is totally different, and stunning in its own right. There are a number of mounds which just called out to be conquered.
But for me personally the water gardens were my favourite within the Lynn Garden.
There were mini beasts to be admired all around the gardens. My son spent ages watching the pond skaters at work.
I wished I’d brought my longer lens to capture all the butterflies properly, there were loads of them, the most we’d seen in one place all summer.
From the Serpentine Walk to the North Drive and beyond, there’s lots to enjoy.
The Topiary Sundial was a big hit and there’s a phrase cut into the hedging which my son enjoyed decoding.
There are stunning views across the property and we couldn’t have picked a better day for our first visit.
The sunken garden is another hidden gem, which was full of colour when we were there.
The final surprise when we were exploring Ascott House and Gardens was discovering the Ascott Circle. Something totally different and beautiful in its own way.
We had such a lovely afternoon, my son got another stamp in his National Trust passport and we will most certainly be returning in the spring to see the gardens waking up for another year.