Around 246 runners took on approximately 6 miles of multi terrain at the Castle Hill Corker Written on February 20, 2017, by .

On a wet and misty Sunday morning in February a group of runners set off around the Castle Hill Estate for a challenging 10k run!

The weather was against them but no one was deterred from having a go at the 6 mile multi terrain course set out by the South Molton Strugglers. Not only did they have a go, they took on and conquered the challenge, some with cuts and grazes, others just covered in mud!

Well done and many congratulations to everyone that took part, with monies raised going to the North Devon Hospice it was a truly worthwhile event and one we are proud to host.


20170219_105953 20170219_110105


Hats off also to the team of volunteers, marshals, cake bakers

etc who made the event possible.

See you all again next year!




Winter news Written on December 19, 2016, by .

Recent visitors to the gardens will have enjoyed a riot of colour overhead and a vibrant carpet of leaves underfoot as autumn ended in a stunning visual display. We’ve had all manner of weather over the last month from mist to frost and even some hints of sunshine. Our photos give a glimpse of how the gardens change throughout the year! Each day brought a new vista worthy of a picture.mist autumn-3 frost-2 october-gardens-3 september-gardens-1 gardens-june-2-2

During 2016 we have been lucky enough to experience a great season with a record number of people visiting the gardens, attending an event or as a wedding guest (or bride & groom). Our new tearoom with its homemade cakes and lunch menus proved a particular hit. If you didn’t get to try our delicious scones you need to add a taste of them to your New Year’s resolutions for next Spring!

Christmas week is now upon us and the weather looks set to continue grey and damp, what a shame the recent cold snap didn’t continue, offering us a white Christmas!



Many people will take time over the festive break to take in the landscape of a winter walk, often to burn off the added calories! If you plan on a winter walk with the family why not visit our gardens. Gardens remain open from 11am each day (except Saturdays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) so a good opportunity to get out in the open air. Remember though that the kiosk and tearoom are closed until next April.

Thank you to each and everyone who visited us last season, we welcome all winter visitors and hope you enjoy your visit.

Look out for our 2017 programme of events and if you are recently engaged why not consider Castle Hill as your picture perfect venue!



Summer arrives at Castle Hill Written on June 10, 2016, by .

Danny COTW

June is the 6th month of the year bringing with it a promise of warm summer days, the all important Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice. It is also a very busy month at Castle Hill as we host weddings, Open-Air Theatre shows, picnics, parties and group visits.

Picnic Tea


Brends Tours GroupDanny COTW

With warm weather over the last few weeks May finished on a high and June began with a triumph! Jess & James held their wedding reception in the West Wing with a Marquee on he lawn; the sun shone all day and the storm held off until the groom’s speech – no significance we hope! Everyone commented on what a beautiful wedding it was and we couldn’t agree more.

Brends Tours brought a group to enjoy the delights of the gardens, an informative talk and scrumptious lunch rounded off their day. Members of the group remarked on the beauty of the gardens and the majesty of the views.

The Holwell Temple showed its potential as the ultimate spot for an impromptu lunch after a long walk through the grounds accomplished by our house visitors. And a picnic in the wooded gardens completed their visit.

Hundreds flocked to witness a hilarious production of Danny The Champion of The World performed magnificently under a blazing sun by Illyria Theatre Company. It was wonderful to see so many people of all ages enjoying the sunshine and joining in with the antics of the performance. Once the show had finished the garden banks proved an ideal site for children to run up and inevitably roll down! The whole evening was just perfect for picnics and Pimms on the lawn! Join us on 27th July for our next Open-Air Theatre show, Gulliver’s Travels.

So all that has happened in just a few short weeks and now we are on to plans for more weddings, the next being for Melissa & Edward which we know will be a stunning one, our open evening for Friends of Castle Hill, additional Open-Air Theatre shows and group visits plus the day to day tasks of viewings, torus and keeping the gardens at their best. There really is never a dull moment here at Castle Hill and we love to share all the excitement with you and look forward to your visit.

Welcome to the new Gardens Open Season Written on April 7, 2016, by .

We are thrilled to share with you the latest news from Castle Hill Gardens.

This coming Sunday (April 10th) the Gardens will be open with teas and light refreshments on offer for the first time this year. We are thrilled to announce that over the coming weeks refreshments can be enjoyed in our new tearoom adjacent to the kiosk. We are busy putting the final touches to the tearoom and hope it will give enjoyment to many visitors whatever the weather.

The gardens are full of colour and have benefitted from the mild wet winter, even if we all hated it! Daffodils are ablaze in shades of cream and yellow, primroses are thickly carpeting the slopes , bluebells are shyly poking their heads up out of the grass and at differing heights are camelias in great mounds with magnolias now towering high above. This is such a joyful time of year with the soft air and stillness in the woods following those dreadful damaging recent winds.

Please come and visit the gardens of our wonderful family home, bring your children and dogs and be sure of a quiet evening after all the fresh air and exercise. As our recent Easter Bunny Hunt proved children love the open air and freedom of the gardens so it is the ideal spot to let them run around.

The beauty of the gardens in Spring.

The beauty of the gardens in Spring.

new sesaon 3 Photos for new season opening 1

The passing of the great Lucombe Oak from his riverside location Written on March 14, 2016, by .

Sadly the gardens have suffered one or two casualties in the recent storms, mainly the great Lucombe Oak which came crashing down last week as the strong winds hit the region.

Thankfully the weather has now improved and is hopefully set to last a while.


tree 3TreeTree 2

Spring flowers are bursting forth in Castle Hill Gardens Written on March 1, 2016, by .

We have just celebrated another successful Castle Hill Corker fun run as more than 200 brave runners took on the elements and conquered the course in aid of the North Devon Hospice. Well done to all participants and everyone who came out to cheer them on.

Most of us know the saying ‘March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’. This expression is all about the weather greeting us with a lion’s roar of inclement conditions, leaving us with the gentle lamb like days of spring warmth and sun. We certainly could do with some spring warmth to welcome in our new season in the gardens.

Despite some recent harsh frosts and strong winds to say nothing of the heavy downpours several spring bulbs are flowering as the new season takes hold. Daffodils are already blooming in abundance. The Gardens are bursting forth every day thanks to the mild winter, Daffodil Wood has a creamy yellow hue running throughout and the bulbs seem to have recovered from last year’s “blindness”. Shades of pink and red camelias are lighting up the leafless woods like torches and the odd brave magnolia is peeping out from its bud.

We begin the new season with our ever popular Easter Bunny Hunt on Monday 28th March. Already the Easter Bunny has been spotted in the grounds setting his clues for the youngsters to follow in the hope of winning a chocolate prize!

Valentine’s Day has caught the romantics among you and we are busy booking show rounds and wedding dates both at the Holwell Temple and in the West Wing of the main house. Perhaps you were one of the modern day ladies who took advantage of the Leap Year and proposed to your man! If you have yet to choose your wedding venue get in touch to see how we can help give you the wedding of your dreams.

We are very grateful to Brenda Skinner who lives on the Estate for sharing her stunning photography. These photos were taken on a recent early morning while Brenda was out walking her dog and capture the true beauty to be discovered here at Castle Hill.

The true beauty of the gardens in winter

The true beauty of the gardens in winter

IMG_9363_edited-2 IMG_9365_edited-1 IMG_9367_edited-1 IMG_9374_edited-1

Autumn brings beauty to the gardens Written on October 23, 2015, by .

The unloved summer of 2015 has faded into a distant memory with the arrival of an Autumn of such incredible beauty. Early morning mist lying in the valley, long shadows, warm days, bright blue skies, the odd frost and everything in the garden loving the last rays of this warmth .

The borders have gone on flowering like I have never seen before and the triumph of all has been the Nicotiana Mutabilis which reaches at least 6′ and softly weaves its way between the autumn flowering perennials.

The Woodland garden is becoming a riot of autumn shades and is a joy to amble through. It has been lovely seeing many visitors enjoying these days before the clocks change At last the ground is showing signs of recovery after the Somersault Festival and the late flush of grass is covering the ruts so hopefully next years grazing for the cows and silage will be better than we had feared.

This is the time for preparing for next year, our last few months of living in Castle Hill which seems to grow more beautiful every day, so much turning out getting ready for our Yard Sale in the Spring. There is  much to find new homes for before our daughter, her husband and the 4 children settle in. Our own new home which was built some 26 years ago by my mother is getting ready for our move in January so a new chapter will begin. Meanwhile we continue with lots of Wedding show rounds here and at the Holwell Temple and there is a great energy around looking at ways for people who come here to have a truly memorable time.

One of the lovely happenings in recent weeks was the visit of the Henry Williamson Society whose affection for the Estate was most humbling. They looked at Shallowford and Humpy Bridge where Henry used to live and write and then came to see the Gardens and enjoy tea in the West Wing . They said in a letter that ” the Estate seemed like Arcadia”, what more could one ask for! Perhaps that was what inspired Henry’s pen ?

So please come during the autumn and winter, there is always something to see even if it is Louisa and her team tidying the gardens or our rather naughty Jack Russell boy pursuing shadows!october

Great excitement nearby Written on September 24, 2015, by .

We are excited to share with you news of a forthcoming Royal visit.

Price Edward, the Earl of Wessex will be visiting Swimbridge Jubilee Hall on 29th September as one of a number of engagements throughout the day.

We are thrilled to hear of this visit and know you will be too.

A Season of Festival, Theatre, and fun days out Written on September 1, 2015, by .

We’ve certainly had a busy end to the summer and with Autumn seeming to be just around the corner we are starting plans for next year! Sadly it has not been the best of summer’s weather wise but that hasn’t deterred  many people from coming along to visit the gardens or enjoy some of the entertainment. Our final Outdoor Theatre performance for 2015 was Treasure Island performed brilliantly by the Pantaloons! there was much swashbuckling and heave ho-ing to get the crowds going! And the whole event was a great success.

Finally our grounds are improving after the Somersault Festival, it really took a pounding this year. However the gardens have loved the dismal non summer and the Millenium Garden is bursting with colours and height, everything seems about 2 weeks later than usual because of the low temperatures which is keeping them looking lovely for our visitors. The Woodland Garden is also full of colour with Eucryphias reaching up towards the tree tops smelling of honey and the Eucryphia Rostrevor hedge on the front drive is the best I have seen in 20 years. There are large clumps of happy hydrangeas loving the cool and wet, agapanthus also thickening out along paths interspersed with Crocosmia.  After a wet start the weather turned remarkably kind to us as we hosted our first ever Dog Funday. We were proud to welcome local charity K9 Focus to Castle Hill to hold their event and the day was the best fun for everyone who came along to support or show their dogs. Many people and their delightful 4 legged friends enjoyed the fun of the classes, there were lots of smiling faces and shiny rosettes on show by the end of the day. We used the Terraces for the classes and agility displays, there was even a performance from the Rexon Performing Pooches, all set against the backdrop of the House and we hope everyone had as much fun watching or participating as we did. There were many volunteers who helped make the day a great success to whom go our thanks. The icing on the cake was Smartie Arran winning second prize in the Terrier class much to his master’s great pleasure!

We hope lots of people will come along and enjoy September at Castle Hill as the autumn colours begin to show themselves. Treasure Island 1 photo Millenium Garden photo 1 Eucryphia Rostrevor photo 2 photo 5 LA photo 3 ti 2photo

Festival, Theatre, visits and a wedding…all in one week Written on August 3, 2015, by .

After the excitement of the Somersault Festival and the thousands (17) enjoying their time here at Castle Hill, we are now trying to make good the damage done during the heavy and continual rain. Sadly our beautiful Estate is not looking at its best but I am sure it will recover. It does however beg questions for the future as to how bad weather is dealt with as another trashing like this year is unsustainable despite the enjoyment for Festival goers. Let’s hope the weather is on our side in the coming months. This year the Festival brought many fun new activities for children in our woodland garden which became the perfect place for music, magic and mystery.

We enjoyed a fabulously fun performance by Heartbreak Productions of Mr Stink. Again the weather hindered our plans, the performance was due to be outside however showers were forecast and the ground was still wet so we moved the show inside for the comfort of our audience. Little did we know how many people would come along to enjoy the performance and how the predicted rain would hold off! The West Wing was filled with people of all ages! Best laid plans really do struggle to come together at times.

We had the most wonderful visit from a man who I will call Bill! Bill arrived here in a dark green shiny 1934 Rolls Royce which had belonged to my Grandfather the 5th Earl Fortescue. This beautiful car still more than roadworthy is so loved and cherished by him. We had enormous fun looking at the old photograph books of pictures of my Grandparents, a true nostalgic time which gave Bill a chance to feel he now knew the previous owner.

Another wedding was celebrated at the Holwell Temple on what turned out to be a damp and cool Saturday. The sun did shine on the bride though as she made her way through the woods to the Temple to greet her husband to be and assembled family and friends. It is so wonderful to see how the Temple comes to life for such happy occasions. Thank you to Megan and Joseph for choosing to hold your wedding here.

Then of course there are the gardens which are truly looking spectacular after all the recent rain. Hydrangeas are in full flower and agapanthus popping up all over the place. The Millenium Garden gets stronger every year and the Lavender Grosso is filling the air with its heavenly smell, just like in Provence.

Finally we are so looking forward to hosting the dog show on 30th August with rather hopeless attempts to persuade our own dogs to behave in order to win a prize! It will be our first here and we are hoping lots of 4 legged friends will come and enjoy a great day out. Here’s to a more sunny end to August!

gardens 1 gardens 2 image photo


© Copyright Castle Hill Blog - Powered by Wordpress