National Garden Scheme : Braxted Park

Braxted Park is a large country house still in private ownership in the Essex countryside between Witham and Kelvedon. It’s a Queen Anne style house, set in 2,000 acres of parkland and farmland, but there was a house recorded on the site in the Domesday Book, when Eudo Dapifer – who built Colchester Castle just 10 miles up the road was the Lord of the Manor.

Today Braxted Park is a wedding venue and also holds corporate events for businesses. For many the only evidence will be the long, long brick wall along Braxted Park Road between Rivenhall and Tiptree. But, on a number of dates throughout the year it’s open to the public as part of the Invitation to View programme and also the National Gardens Scheme.

We decided to visit as part of the National Garden Scheme, just before the start of the heatwave of 2018. This meant that the lawns were still beautifully green and the plants were looking fresh and fulsome. A few weeks later and I think the grass would have been quite brown and the plants would have been struggling – just as they were in gardens all across the country.

There was a modern water garden with some dramatic pieces of sculpture which we particularly liked, and many beautiful roses. The Victorian greenhouses were almost empty when we visited, I wonder whether they are ever used to grow produce for events in the house?

As it was an Essex NGS Open Day there was a lovely range of plans for sale, at very reasonable prices – so we felt we should buy some, and then of course we had a cream tea in the big marquee in the grounds. And talking of the grounds – whilst the entry route for cars came up the front drive, the exit route for cars took a longer route to get out of another gate. A much, much longer route, which showed just how enormous 2,000 acres actually is!

A lovely way to spend a summer afternoon.