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Iford Manor Estate: Gardens & Holiday Cottage

This family-run rural idyll on the Wiltshire-Somerset border is a little piece of heaven, and now has an on-site holiday cottage for the 24-hour Iford experience.

This romantic, award-winning Grade 1 listed garden is set in 2.5 acres of terraced hillside overlooking an unspoilt valley. Designed by Edwardian architect-designer Harold Peto when it was his home in 1899-1933, this magical little corner on the Wiltshire-Somerset border will, we swear, transport you to another world. For once we’re making no apology for the flowery superlatives, as this place really is something special.

Totally insta-tastic, you’ll wander past colonnades and pools with stunning views in every direction. Antiquities are framed with an expert eye, and Peto’s love for beauty and history is palpable. It’s a dreamy mix of Roman ruin and English country garden with a dose of Japanese zen that left us relaxed and inspired.

This is not a massive garden for a hearty walk, a picnic or a game of football. It’s somewhere intimate to take your time and appreciate the peace and the detail. Take your date, your partner, your mates, your Mum; even go on your own (we’re considering a sole season ticket!), but don’t take the kids (except to the cafe). If you must, then take them to Butterfly Day in the orchard in July.

The garden is open April-September, but now you can experience a bit of the Iford magic all year round with their newly refurbished holiday rental Rowley Cottage. This historic house, adjacent to the manor, is a dream come true for anyone interested in architecture or gardens (or just luxuriously lazy holidays) – check out that wood panelling; the thickness of the walls! Parts date back to the twelfth century.

There are three double bedrooms, some with roll top baths, French beds with luxury mattresses, waterfall showers – we say yes please, when can we check in? It’s a peaceful spot, perfect for a retreat or civilised get-together; possibly not the best choice for kids. The location (deceptively near the A30) is a handy base for exploring the south west, a short drive to Bath, Avebury, Frome and Longleat. There’s privileged access to those exquisite gardens – first thing before visitors arrive. Book ahead and you could combine with Jaq’s Friday night supper club next door – what a weekend that would be. We just know booking is going to be competitive when word gets out, so get in there while you can.

The cafe is open Thurs – Sunday during the winter (and longer in the summer) and Jaq’s cakes are amazing: frangipane tarts and carrot cake pair beautifully with Iford’s own tea blend.

There is perfect sense of place here, with gorgeous walks on your doorstep to a trio of great pubs: The Freshford Inn, The Westwood Inn and the Cross Guns with its stunning aqueduct. Also Iford Cider round the corner has a funky little set-up with pizza at outside tables.

Is it wrong that we’re thinking of staying even though we only live down the road? We so would.

This month in Wiltshire

Iford Manor, nr Bradford-on-avon, Wiltshire, BA15 2BA
01225 863146

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