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Goodnestone: A walk in the park with Jane Austen


Less than two miles South of Witherdens Hall Organic Spa Retreat, lies the picturesque and historic village of Goodnestone. With chocolate box cottages, long rambling walks and its own Country Mansion, its clear to see why Jane Austen was a frequent visitor and why she is said to have used her time spent here as inspiration for her writing.She would often come to visit her brother and his wife, a daughter of Sir Brook Bridges, the original owner of Goodnestone Park estate.

Goodnestone Mansion

Goodnestone Park Estate has been the home of the Fitzwalter Family for over 300 years, with the mansion being completed in 1704, and recently renovated throughout. The interior is as impressive as the exterior and the house is open to the public from 14th – 22nd August 2018.

The house sits in 15 acres of beautifully kept gardens with varying styles, from the formal garden to the front of the house, to the spectacular walled garden and dry gardens to the rear. It also has a tea room which serves tea and cake and other delicious treats, which makes for a very English afternoon out!

Goodnestone Park Gardens - Photo credit Goodnestone Park Gardens Website

Goodnestone Park Gardens appeared on this week's episode (15) of Gardeners' World, if you would like to see for yourself the beauty of the walled garden in summer time. Catch up on i-player or watch on BBC two this Sunday morning at 7.30am. For more details on opening times and prices click here.

Unfortunately dogs are not permitted in the house and gardens.

Although Goodnestone village is relatively small, it has a thriving local community, including a busy church, (which has the post office in it on a Monday and Friday), a village pub and a local school. All of these landmarks play a key role in keeping Goodnestone lively.

If walking is something you enjoy, there are lots of places to explore around the Serpentine Walk which almost encircles the entire village. Great for adults, children and dogs, the Serpenitine Walk has been reinstated after it was first created in the 1760’s. It was originally made particularly for the ladies of Goodnestone Park House to wander around the grounds, whilst the men were off hunting and shooting.

The Serpentine Walk in early spring

Now it is a peaceful and tranquil meander through woodland and meadows where you will undoubtedly find wildflowers, hedgerows, wildlife and perhaps the odd cow grazing in the pastures! You may also discover the ice-house, where ice was once stored for use in the mansion.

The land on the Goodnestone estate is farmed as organically as possible, with meadows only cut twice a year, allowing native species of both plants and animals to make it their home.

You will often see some huge birds of prey flying overhead, especially on long, hot summer days. The skies are often dotted with buzzards and red kites. If you wanted an evening walk, it’s not unheard of to see the barn owls hunting over the fields as the sun goes down.

Summer meadow in Goodnestone

Goodnestone is a great place to visit for history lovers, photographers, writers, families and those who enjoy getting out in the countryside. And when you are thirsty after all that walking, there’s always time for a refreshing drink in the Fitzwalter Arms, (dogs and well behaved owners welcome!) before you head back to Witherdens Hall to put your feet up.

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