Hospice opens its historic gardens for first time
By David Wood
Where: Leckhampton Court, Leckhampton, Cheltenham GL53 0QJ
When: Saturday, July 6, 10am to 4pm
With its medieval banqueting hall Leckhampton Court is the oldest house in Cheltenham. Its role today as a hospice provides free care to anyone in Gloucestershire facing a frightening, life-changing diagnosis.
The hospice will be opening its gardens for the first time this year under the National Garden Scheme.
In the words of director Elise Hoadley: "It gives an opportunity to banish the myth that hospices are sad, morbid places. We celebrate life offering a friendly and safe environment to some 800 people a year."
Set within this Grade two listed medieval estate, the informal gardens surround the buildings. The lawns and planted beds, along with a small fruit orchard and numerous protected trees, give a feeling of calm and tranquility so close to the busy town of Cheltenham.
Nestled into the foothills of the Cotswolds on Leckhampton Hill, the gradient site affords spectacular views across both countryside and town, with visibility as far as the Welsh Black Mountains on a clear day.
A feature garden designed by Peter Dowle, RHS Chelsea gold medal winner, can be found in the main courtyard, incorporating some stones with the original stonemason signature marks.
In 2018, a new wheelchair friendly resin-stone walkway was created, taking visitors around the pond and into the woodland, where meadow flower planting enhances the shady area.
Recent restoration work has re-opened the north-facing Sir Charles Irving Terrace giving opportunity to sit and enjoy the evening lights of Cheltenham town from above, with a backdrop of the Malvern Hills beyond.
Also visible from this vantage point are the foundations of Second World War barrack huts which were occupied firstly by British troops, then prior to the D-day landings by the US before finally being occupied by German Prisoners of War, some of whom did not leave until 1948.
The gardens will be open on Saturday, July 6, from 10am to 4pm.
For full details of all gardens opening for NGS during 2019 please visit the NGS website.
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