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Forde Abbey Historic House & Gardens

   
Town/City : Chard
County : Somerset
Country : England
Post code : TA20 4LU
Phone : 01460 220290
Web Site :  www.fordeabbey.co.uk

Forde Abbey in Dorset is a treasure in an area already known for its outstanding beauty. It is also a family home, and a living and breathing working estate.

There is plenty that you can experience on a day visit here, whether it be a family outing in beautiful Dorset, a trip to our plant nursery, tasty home-made refreshments in our tearoom, or a fun day picking your own fruit. You are sure to find something for all the family, and there are events throughout the year.

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History

In the peaceful solitude of its secluded position in a valley next to the River Axe it is possible to imagine just how Forde Abbey looked to many of its previous owners, from its mediaeval beginnings to the present day: monks going about their daily round of work and prayer; prosperous parliamentary gentlemen discussing the cavalier threat; gifted philosophers debating the imponderable; elegant Victorian ladies fanning themselves by the fireside; and country gentlemen going about their work on the estate. Each part of Forde Abbey's history can be clearly read in the architecture and structure of the house and garden. It is a living testament to the people who have lived and worked here over the past nine centuries and makes it one of the most fascinating buildings in the country.

 

The Gardens

somerset-forde23The house is surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful award winning gardens. The landscape has developed slowly since monastic times and the gardens continue to develop today.


The garden is always changing with the seasons and the years. Its character in the spring is totally different from that of the autumn. However there is no time of the year without things of interest to the gardener or of beauty to the visitor.

 

Family Fun

for the children

We have added a number of features recently to make a day out at Forde Abbey even more enjoyable for all ages. A Children's Pack is available from the shop and also at the house entrance. This is aimed at children aged 3 to 11 although younger children may need some help. It includes:
A Children's Guide to the House
Learn more about the house and the people who have lived here while finding the answers to a series of questions. Even our youngest visitors can be a house detective!
For the Youngest Visitors
This activity sheet for 3-5 year olds gives them things to find, pictures to colour and games to play!
Letterboxing at Forde Abbey
Follow the trail around the garden to find the hidden boxes and stamps to mark the trail map. Based on the famous Dartmoor letterboxes there is a prize draw for completed trails at the end of the season.
The informal layout of the gardens at Forde Abbey means there are lots of hidden places for children to explore. The wide lawns give plenty of opportunity for using up excess energy and the ducks, chickens, swans and fish are also able to entertain our visitors. Remember that we also welcome well behaved dogs on a short lead.


The Abbey Nursery
The Abbey Nursery is situated adjacent to the walled Kitchen Garden at Forde Abbey and sells a wide range of interesting plants. You can visit the nursery, and adjoining gift shop, without having to purchase an admission ticket for the House or Garden. 

 

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Featured Attraction


Head for The Heights this year

Head for The Heights of Abraham, the award winning Hilltop Park situated in the spectacular Derwent Valley, just 9 miles from Chatsworth on the western edge of the Peak District National Park.

This "must see" Derbyshire jewel of an attraction is accessed by state of the art enclosed cable cars located on the banks of the River Derwent next to Matlock Bath railways station and the town's public car parks. Simply purchase your cable car ticket, and then sit back to enjoy Instagram-ready views of the geologically stunning valley as you climb to the summit.
TIP: You can save money by purchasing your tickets online in advance of your visit. Go to www.heightsofabraham.com for ticket prices and availability
Once you've purchased your cable car ticket, access to all the summit attractions is free, offering a great value-day-out whatever the weather. Head off to explore 60 acres of landscaped grounds, undercover interactive exhibitions, photography gallery, multi-media show caverns, adventure playgrounds, woodland walks and trails.

You can choose to dine in the Vista restaurant with its stunning views down the valley, or enjoy a snack in the café or out on the terrace with similar breath-taking views. Picnic areas can be found throughout the grounds, and during the school holidays you'll discover extra entertainment like the traditional Punch and Judy show (with a satisfying Heights of Abraham twist) for all the family to enjoy.
TIP: Dining times can be reserved in advance. This is recommended especially during the busiest times of the year. Phone 01629 582365 to make a reservation or pre-order the popular afternoon tea package.
Most visitors are surprised to learn that the Heights is in fact the Derbyshire's oldest tourist attraction. The cable car system has carried millions of visitors to the summit over the last thirty five years, yet it remains one of the latest chapters in the fascinating story of the Heights of Abraham. The Heights first opened as a Pleasure Ground in 1780 when visitors would make the climb from the valley floor on foot to witness some of the finest views across the surrounding area. Almost two and a half centuries later you are still able to wander around the estate with its zigzag paths and pleasant woodland trails. It is easy to understand why the area proved inspirational to the Romantic movement of the period.

As long ago as Roman times, Lead deposits may have been found in the area but it took another 1000 years before Lead mining was officially recorded on site. These impressive mines were active for over 400 years and left behind a legacy of passageways and awe-inspiring caverns. Today, thanks to all that hard work you can follow in the miners' footsteps down the passageways they created, going deep underground into the Heights' famous Show Caverns. From the glow of a single miner's candle to the whole cavern being awash with colour-changing lights, the Great Masson Cavern tour is one of the talking points of a visit to this Hilltop Park. Here, where the Equator was once situated millions of years ago, you can learn all about the rocks, minerals and underground formation of the Peak District. Equally, a visit to the Great Rutland Cavern is well worthwhile. First opened to the public over 200 years ago in 1810, you can experience a day in the life of the very miners who made your trip possible.

Those of an inquisitive mind should make sure they visit The Long View exhibition to see and hear the 230 year story about why the estate has been a favourite place to visit for many generations. On the upper floor the Fossil Factory brings to life fun and interesting facts about rocks, fossils and the formation of the Peak District. Tinker's Shaft SSSI is a spectacular location with a new viewing platform, high above the Derwent Valley and near the exit from the Great Masson Cavern. Interpretative panels provide information on the importance of the site, the natural history, the geology and the labyrinth of lead mines below Tinker's Shaft... directly beneath your feet!

The Heath and Heaven Gallery is a delightful pictorial journey through the Peak District from north to south and shot from the air on a single summer's day. Next to this you will find Through the Lens, a 12 minute film of the Great Masson guided tour, ideal for those who cannot, or do not wish to go underground during their visit.

If you're heading into Derbyshire or the Peak District, don't miss the opportunity to head for the Heights this year and tick this one off your bucket list. The cable car is just the start of a fascinating, relaxing and fun day out for everyone. Keep up to date with the news by visiting the official website for opening times, special offers and details of forthcoming events: www.heightsofabraham.com

MJPL6641MJPL6890The Long View ExhibitionMJPL7135Woodland Adventure

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