A tunnel of lofty Lime tree’s greet you as soldiers, and like a Lilliputian under the belly of a centipede we drove beneath the giant green canopy towards Clumber Park. The Clumber estate was once owned by the Dukes of Newcastle (think Civil War not Geordie Shore) and covers a vast 3,800 acres. You’d struggle to cover it all in a week, let alone in a day, but a day was all we had so with toothpaste on our chins and socks on inside out we arrived good and early to fit as much in as we could.
One great way to cover ground in this vast place is by bike and they are available to hire if bringing your own isn’t an option (from £5.30 for 2 hours). There are several routes, through woodland, heathland and lakeside, but we chose the shortest (5 miles) which takes you around the serpentine lake and through the picturesque Victorian Hardwick Village where once upon a time a life was carved for the estates employee’s. It gives you a glimpse into how large this residence must have been to warrant such a payroll. Unfortunately, today, the house no longer stands, but as you finish your 5 miles of pedaling you will approach the front of the estate from the other side of the river and see the old buildings which are still in tact, including the old Gothic church and the stables. If you’re going to pick the prettiest spot for your picnic then here you can rest in the shade of big trees by the river. The adventure playground is just through the courtyard if the kids have finished eating but you’re still nursing your cucumber sandwich.
Lunch At The Garden Tea House
Some lovely friends treated us to lunch at The Garden Tea House, just behind the Walled Kitchen Garden – no squashed sarnies and fridge-scrapings for us that day! We all ate well on a feast of Hoagies and Platters, washed down with tea and cake. The restaurant is a 19th century beauty, set in the head gardeners house – probably his living room. Apparently the Newcastle’s were struggling to find a man to take on the massive responsibility of the role so they built this house and advertised that it came with the post – quite an extra for just a servant. And, if you take a circular walk around the building you’ll notice it doesn’t have a proper front door, just a bog standard door resembling the back entrance of a normal Victorian house – after all, it wouldn’t do for a domestic to get above his station and entertain impure thoughts of entering your own house via a proper entreé! (See, crazy weird folk)
There are plenty of seats outside too in the well-kept cottage-garden if the weather is on your side.
The Walled Kitchen Garden
We were privileged enough to have the company of Sarah Elton (a National Trust Gardener) as we took a tour of the Glass House and Garden and she showered us with interesting facts and figures about how the 4 acre garden and glasshouse would have supplied the Newcastle’s residence and hosts back in its hey day.
I love hearing trivia about the Victorians, they fascinate me. Like the fact that Tortoise Soup was regularly on a menu. Or that a lot of people only ever had their photo taken once in their life and it was often with a dead relative propped up by their side – a kind of keepsake to remember them by (albeit a bit of a tasteless one, seeing as they’d have had to dress them as stiffs and sew open their eyelids). Anyway, none of Sarah’s facts were so gross. In fact, she inspired awe of the Victorians and their gardening/landscaping skills. Carefully designed to make the most of heat and wind flow and plants grown not just for aesthetics but for efficiency and productiveness too – they were clever folk and Sarah kept us entertained with her vast knowledge. One mad detail we were told was that one of the Duchesses demanded a new carnation for her lapel every day and it was somebody’s crazy job to get that carnation to her where ever she be in the country! (Crazy weird woman)
Clumber Park is home to the largest glasshouse (450 ft) owned by the National Trust and also the largest rhubarb collection in the country – no mean feat with over 130 varieties. Actually, so much rhubarb they even made a Rhubarb Telephone…
And an apple phone too! This little corner of Clumber Park offers plenty to see and do for all ages and was probably the highlight of our lovely day, so if you’re off to Clumber soon do not overlook the glasshouse and garden. Also, over the next few months, the National Trust are putting on various activities for their Summer Of Sport, including archery, badminton, volleyball and lots of other games on their front field. And, in usual NT style, there are treasure hunts and quizzes aplenty. So much to keep the kids busy and wear them out in the process!
So, if you’re in Nottinghamshire any time soon then Clumber Park is one not to miss. It’s one of several beautiful Trust properties in the area and the city of Nottingham is just on your doorstep which also presents so many ideas’s for families too (see my recent post here)
Have you been ? Is it on your to-go list? Do you have any crazy Victorian facts? Pray tell, drop me a message below. If you like reading about our family frolics in and around Nottinghamshire, and the rest of the world too then be sure to subscribe to my blog for all the latest posts direct to your inbox. Thanks for stopping by!
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