Historic Grade-II Cricket St Thomas Hotel near Chard, Somerset, has formally opened their gardens following a major landscaping and restoration project.
£300,000 has already been invested in the project which has opened up the glorious vistas of one of Somerset’s most beautiful valleys. Covering some 160 acres the gardens include designs by Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner Kate Gould, and a rose garden maze in the shape of a rose bud.
The project forms part of a £3 million investment at the popular hotel, which is one of thirteen ‘adult only’ hotels and coastal villages within the Warner Leisure Hotels group.
The formal opening of the gardens and lakes also sees the launch of an exciting new venture for Cricket St Thomas with the introduction of an Italian style restaurant within the former walled gardens of the country house. Representing an investment of around £200,000 the new ‘Fenocchi’s’ will offer authentic Tuscan style cuisine prepared by award-winning chef Jason Eland for both hotel guests and visitors to the gardens.
Other major redevelopments at Cricket St Thomas have included a stylish upgrade of the Tree Tops restaurant and refurbishment of the historic old house, including the opening of a new wing comprising 22 stylish new Signature rooms this month (Aug).
The opening of the gardens and lakes marks a new era in the history of the estate, which dates back to the 12th century. Originally created in the 19th century by the second Lord Bridport the gardens feature a chain of lakes and cascades, as well as formal ornamental gardens. As part of the restoration the lakes have been drained and cleaned and a new water feature created at the entrance to the estate.
Today lawns of the elegant Regency country mansion, instantly recognisable as the setting for the TV sitcom ‘To the Manor Born’, still feature the large cedars under which Lord Nelson and his mistress Lady Hamilton are believed to have spent many happy hours.
Work on the gardens is scheduled to continue over the next three years with visitors to voting as to how they would like to see the project develop.
Ian Gyte, General Manager of Cricket St Thomas hotel, said: “The new Lakes and Gardens are a stunning testament to the long heritage of Cricket St Thomas whilst taking the gardens firmly into the 21st century. They offer a new opportunity for the thousands of visitors and local residents we are welcoming this year to enjoy one of Somerset’s most glorious landscapes.
“The garden project will last a total of three years and it will be fascinating to see how they evolve as the work progresses. The opening of the new restaurant and the investment in the hotel are also hugely exciting and clearly demonstrate our continuing confidence in offering superb facilities for our guests and visitors to enjoy.”’
Gardener Kate Gould described the Gardens and Lakes project as “an amazing and huge undertaking.”
She added: “What Warner Leisure Hotels are doing is no small feat and it will be fascinating to see the gardens develop as the plans take shape.”
Among plants in the new grotto garden are heuchera, ligularia, iris, astilbe, persicaria, labelia and purple petticoats.
The gardens are open daily until the end of September. Children under five go free and the gardens are free to guests staying at the hotel.
For more information visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/hotels/cricket-st-thomas-hotel/overview