Wessex Attractions: The Courts Gardens

The Courts Gardens are a small, National Trust-owned garden and arboretum near Holt in Wiltshire, built on the site of an old cloth mill. The gardens feature a lily pond, a herbaceous border, and sculptured yew trees. There is a cafe for visitors and a second-hand bookshop. The Orchard Room, near the arboretum, features an exhibition on the site's history.

The postcode, for satnav purposes, is BA14 6RR. Please check the website for opening hours, Covid-19 restrictions, and a selection of poems by poet-in-residence John Bond.

Wessex Attractions: Tintinhull Garden

Tintinhull Garden, near Yeovil, was created by Phyllis Reiss after the Second World War, in memory of her nephew, who gave his life in that conflict. After her death in 1961, she left the garden, and the 17th century Grade I listed house to which it belonged, to the National Trust. In 1981, the house was leased to the famed garden designer Penelope Hobhouse, who took much of her inspiration from Reiss's creation.

The colours of the Arts and Crafts-inspired garden were designed to blend with the Ham stone of the house, and the garden is arranged so that there is something to see from every room in the house.

The postcode, for satnav purposes, is BA22 8PZ, and the gardens are served by bus number 52 from Yeovil. They are currently closed due to COVID-19 at the time of writing, so be sure to check their website for details of their reopening.

Wessex Attractions: Alexander Keiller Museum

Alexander Keiller (1889-1955) was the heir to the Dundee marmalade firm of James Keiller and Son, who used the wealth he inherited in the service of his true passion, archaeology. He bought 950 acres of land at Avebury for the purposes of excavation and preservation. In 1943, he sold the land to the National Trust for a nominal fee.

Today, the museum that bears his name contains two galleries, the Barn Gallery and the Stables Gallery. The Barn Gallery is located in a preserved 17th century threshing barn, and uses interactive displays to tell the story of Avebury and its surrounding landscape. The Stables Gallery features neolithic exhibits excavated on the site, including flint tools, pottery and the skeleton of a domesticated dog dating from around 3500 BC.

Entry to the museum costs £4.90 (free to members of English Heritage) and the postcode is SN8 1RF. Please note that restrictions may be in place due to COVID-19. It is advisable to check their website in advance of your visit.

Wessex Attractions: Little Fleece Bookshop

Former bookshops are, sadly, far more common nowadays than still-open ones. But how about former bookshops owned by the National Trust, and available to let as a holiday cottage?

The Little Fleece in Painswick is a fine example of a Cotswold stone building, refurbished in the Arts & Crafts style so strongly associated with the Cotswolds. It will reopen on July 21st, having been closed due to the COVID19 lockdown. It has 3 bedrooms, and can accommodate up to 5 guests. The bad news? It costs £371 a night to rent, and the minimum stay is 2 nights. The property carries a 4 acorn rating (out of a maximum of 5), signifying luxury accommodation with premium features. For those who can afford it, it provides a perfect base for exploring the Cotswolds.

Wessex Attractions: Hidcote

Hidcote Manor and its gardens, located near Chipping Campden in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. are a National Trust-owned property bought by the American-born Major Lawrence Johnston and his mother in the early years of the 20th century and restored according to the principles of the then-burgeoning Arts and Crafts movement. Charles Ashbee moved the Gild (sic) of Handicrafts from East London to Chipping Campden in 1902, and the area quickly became a centre for the movement.

The G(u)ild dissolved five years later, but Major Johnson continued its legacy, He spent the period up to 1914 remodelling the house and gardens according to Arts and Crafts principles, but progress was halted when he went off to fight in World War 1. After the war, a period of expansion began, and the estate was sold to the National Trust in 1948.

Like all National Trust properties, Hidcote Manor is currently closed. but their website allows visitors to experience a virtual tour.