The Gardens of Easton Lodge: A jewel of a garden with some royal connections

PUBLISHED: 14:57 06 August 2009 | UPDATED: 07:20 30 May 2010

Diana and Brian Creasey get ready to welcome visitors to the special summer  Picture: SUBMITTED

Diana and Brian Creasey get ready to welcome visitors to the special summer Picture: SUBMITTED

LOVERS of garden design and cultural history will have a rare opportunity to experience the enchanting atmosphere of one of the jewels of North West Essex. The Gardens of Easton Lodge throws open its gates on Sunday August 9 for a special summer open day.

LOVERS of garden design and cultural history will have a rare opportunity to experience the enchanting atmosphere of one of the jewels of North West Essex.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge throws open its gates on Sunday August 9 for a special summer open day. The event is free.

From 12 noon to 6pm activities for children will include a treasure trail and two giant 'natural collages' featuring a butterfly and giant plane.

There will also be a chance to visit and suggest names for the "pea-chicks" - three baby peacocks recently born there - and see the beauty of the male peacocks as they strut around the grounds.

The gardens, in Little Easton near Great Dunmow, were one of the most important creations of the Edwardian designer Harold Peto. His commission in 1902 came from "Darling Daisy", the Countess of Warwick, who regularly entertained society guests there including the Prince of Wales before he acceded to the throne as Edward VII.

Designed in Italianate style around Warwick House, the gardens were maintained until 1950, after which time nature took over. Tantalising glimpses of those designs have been resurfacing since 1993 when restoration began.

Today's visitors can see Peto's Italian Sunken Garden and the herringbone and cobble courtyard, plus other examples of his work. Additional creations by Diana and Brian Creasey - who most recently owned the gardens - include the Living Sundial, Dark Pool and Shakespeare Border.

The tranquillity of the gardens has been a major draw for visitors over the years and restoration to their full glory is still the long term objective of the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust.

Despite the scale of work still to be undertaken, the loveliness of the Gardens continues to shine through. From its origins in 1302 as part of a vast deer park, the 23-acre haven is notable for its natural beauty and ever-changing landscape.

Entry to the Gardens of Easton Lodge on Sunday August 9 is free and visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic, although tea and cakes will also be available for purchase during opening hours.

The Gardens are located just off the B184 between Great Dunmow and Thaxted. Further information is available online at www.eastonlodge.co.uk, from 01371 876979 or enquiries@eastonlodge.co.uk

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