Beeleigh Abbey Gardens

Beeleigh Abbey is another of Essex’s hidden gems, tucked away just outside Maldon. The original abbey was evidently founded in 1180 for the Premonstratensian Order. The surviving buildings were incorporated into an early 17th century timber framed private house, in the ownership of the Foyle (of the bookshop fame) family, lately in the shape of present owners Christopher and Catherine Foyle. With gardener Chris Cork and estate manager Ed Joslin (and others!) they’ve been breathing new life into the gardens which are now open to the public for the first time in decades – on a few days during the year.

We took advantage of the lovely bank holiday weather to pay a visit. There’s a lot packed into the three acres of the garden, with a large lawn showing off the main building to great effect.

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As with many gardens, it will repay frequent visits. This time the wisteria was in full flower, but we’ll have to come again for the roses, and the wildflower garden! The mixed borders were lovely, especially with some glimpses of the house in the background.

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The kitchen garden gave us a few guilt pangs for not being on our allotment! The cottage garden frames one end of the house, and there’s a pond (on the site of the old church). And you can walk down through a wooded area, past the under-construction bog garden and the see the River Chelmer gliding gracefully past.

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Open days for the gardens are listed here. At only £5 a head to get in, with tea and refreshments (lovely coffee and walnut cake!) available, it’s definitely worth planning a visit. Here are some more pix :