This day visit will provide an opportunity for a privileged and detailed look at the gardens and park of Halswell House, situated in the village of Goathurst in Somerset. It will be led by Edward Strachan, owner of Halswell House, and Roy Bolton, architectural and art historian and Director of Sphinx Fine Art, who wrote on the history of Halswell for his Cambridge thesis, with the participation of Caroline Stanford of the Landmark Trust.
Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte, inherited the estate in 1740 and set about developing the garden and park. Sir Charles’s work at Halswell can be summarised as affecting three discrete aspects of the gardens and park: first, the immediate setting of the house, where the formal garden was removed and the ground naturalized with a Rotunda and Rockwork Screen ; second, the Pleasure Grounds in Mill Wood, where he created a series of linked ponds, dams, bridges and cascades, including the Bath Stone Bridge, and follies such as the Druid’s Temple. Nearby he built the Temple of Harmony (1764). The wider park which was extended and planted. Robin Hood’s Hut was built in the late 1760s on a ridge of high ground to the south of the house so that it provides a viewpoint and commands views over Somerset, the Bristol Channel and South Wales. We will visit all of these features, and Robin Hood’s Hut will be specially opened for us.
11am Meet at Halswell House, Goathurst, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 2DH. Hot drinks will be available.
11.30am Welcome and introduction to the history of Halswell House and grounds and the landscaping for Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte in the 1740s-60s.
12pm Walk near the house to view the Rotunda of 1755 and Rockwork Screen.
1-1.45pm Lunch in the rococo drawing room. Hot and cold drinks and simple buffet.
1.45pm Guided walk in the parkland, including Mill Wood to see the eighteenth-century follies (including the Temple of Harmony, 1764-7), the Bath Stone Bridge and various waterfalls and bridges waiting their turn at restoration and a visit to Robin Hood’s Hut (Landmark Trust), built in the late 1760s, which will be specially opened.
4.00pm Visit finishes. Tea will be available. Option to view the house.
Tickets: £38 Gardens Trust and County Garden Trust members; £45 non-members, to include tea/coffee on arrival, and a sandwich lunch and drink. We regret there will be no refunds.
For further information or if you wish to book and pay by cheque, please contact Sally Jeffery, firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone, 0208 994 6969, or Sarah Fitzgerald, email@example.com, 01747 840895.
Directions: Halswell is west of the M5 between Bridgwater and Taunton. The nearest station is Taunton, with a good train service. ‘Fat Steve’ runs a taxi service: 07522 027809. The estate gates are at the cross roads in the village of Goathurst. There is parking marked near the main house at the top of that drive.
If you would like to stay near Halswell and extend your visit to Somerset, there are a number of B&Bs in Goathurst. You may also like to visit Hestercombe gardens (open every day), Tyntesfield (National Trust, open every day), Crowcombe (with a Georgian mansion), Glastonbury and Bath.