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Fancy some garden inspiration? These are the UK’s favourite National Trust gardens, and some hidden gems

Because of the recent and ongoing social distancing regulations, most people are spending more time in their homes and gardens than ever before. There’s no denying that now is the time for enjoying your outdoor space, and perhaps you’re looking to invest in renovating your garden so you can make the most of what the great British summer has to offer.

For those looking to spruce up their outdoor space, we’ve created an index of the best National Trust gardens to visit as inspiration for your next garden renovation. What better way to spend a lovely (socially distanced) day trip.

The ultimate garden inspiration

In the 125 years since its creation, the National Trust has cemented itself as the crème de la crème of historic buildings, beautiful landscaped gardens and gorgeous countryside. It now boasts more than 5.6 million members, who enjoy visiting over 500 historic properties and 610,000 acres of land.

National Trust gardens offer lots of ideas for any gardening project or renovation.  That’s why we’ve done some digging through online reviews (using a combination of Google and Instagram data) to uncover the most popular National Trust gardens in Britain. If you’re hoping to escape the crowds and avoid the more popular options, we’ve also revealed the gardens with the least number of reviews but the highest average review score, which has brought to light some incredible hidden gems.

Jump to the Top 20 hidden gem National Trust gardens

Top 20 best-rated National Trust gardens

1. Tatton Park, Cheshire

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Gorgeous Tatton Park in Knutsford, Cheshire has something to offer National Trust fans of all ages and group types. The stunning 50-acre gardens are home to 19 different areas, including a Japanese garden, pleasure grounds, glasshouses, a walled kitchen garden and a maze. If that wasn’t enough, visitors can also enjoy seeing the animals in the 40-acre working farm and explore the impressive 1,000-acres of deer park and woodland; perfect for walking, cycling, picnicking or simply soaking up the incredible landscapes.

2. Corfe Castle, Dorset

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Corfe Castle is both the name of an ancient castle in Dorset, and also the village that it perches 55 metres above. Both are picturesque and well worth a visit. Thought to date back 1,000 years, the castle has seen lots of battle damage throughout its history, leaving it a fascinating open-air ruin to explore. Not only can visitors enjoy the breathtaking views from around the castle, but also the pretty green grounds at its base.

3. Stourhead Landscape Garden, Wiltshire

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Immerse yourself in over 300 years of history in the tranquil grounds of Stourhead garden in the Warminster area of Wiltshire. Boasting 2,650 acres of chalk downs, woods and farmland, the grounds here are teeming with wildlife. At its centre is a stunning landscaped garden with a show stopping lake, a domed grotto, a pantheon, a Palladian bridge and the iconic circular Temple of Apollo.

4. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire

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Home to the largest monastic ruins in the country, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, located within the Skell Valley near Rippon, have been granted World Heritage status. The dramatic landscaped gardens are dotted with statues, woodlands, wildflower lawns, ponds, canals, follies and plenty of jaw-dropping views, meaning there’s plenty to keep you engaged, no matter the season or the weather.

5. Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

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With grounds covering a massive 3,800 acres, Clumber Park in Worksop offers idyllic parkland, farmland, walled gardens, woods, a photogenic ornamental bridge and a two mile-long avenue of limes as the main approach. The huge serpentine lake provides picture-worthy views and there are over 120 different types of trees here, so fans of flora and fauna will have plenty to see and enjoy. Bring a picnic and take your time strolling the incredible grounds here; you won’t be disappointed.

6. Lyme Park, Cheshire

The beautiful manor house at Lyme Park in Cheshire is the centrepiece to 17 acres of beautifully designed formal Victorian gardens, including a rose garden, sunken parterre, raine garden and conservatory. Beyond this, the estate stretches a further 1,400 acres and includes a deer park, rugged moorland and ancient woodlands. The Cage, a Gothic hunting tower, overlooks the house from a hill in the park, making for an impressive view.

7. Waddesdon Gardens, Buckinghamshire

A great example of Victorian horticulture, the formal gardens at Waddesdon Manor were created at the end of the 19th century by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. The gardens are famous for the floral Carpet Bedding and Parterre (a French-inspired symmetrical garden), and visitors while away the hours wandering between the flower beds, terraces, fountains and pathways. There’s also a beautifully restored aviary that’s perfect for picnics and a private water garden formed from small lakes, waterfalls, cascades and winding rocky passages (only accessible on special tours).

8. Calke Garden and Parklands, Derbyshire

With over 600 acres of ancient deer-filled parkland, woodland walks and secluded ponds, there’s plenty to discover at Calke. The Calke Explore outdoor hub offers excellent facilities, links to walking and cycling routes and natural play areas in the woods that are perfect for families and adults. The more formal Pleasure Grounds around Calke Abbey show a rustic dilapidation that’s celebrated by the gardeners and used to create stunning horticultural displays; you’ll find rusting tools nestled in amongst the carefully curated flowerbeds. Here you can enjoy the Orangery, Gardener’s Bothy, Physic Garden and glass houses.

9. Hardwick Garden and Parkland, Derbyshire

The impressive Hardwick Hall is Elizabethan architecture at its finest and makes an inspiring backdrop for the walled gardens, orchards, pavilions, courtyards, herb gardens, gatehouse, woodland and huge open pasture parkland that makes up the estate. Walkers, day trippers, dog owners, picnickers, cyclists and families-alike have plenty to see and do in the grounds here.

10. Chartwell Garden, Kent

Once the home of the Churchill family (including Sir Winston), the gardens at Chartwell in Kent have been open to the public since 1966. With a one-way system in place, visitors exploring the gardens will visit waterfalls, lakes, the gorgeous walled garden (with a stunning Golden Rose Avenue), orchards and plenty more, all bursting with colour and incredible floral scents.

11. Belton, Lincolnshire
12. Scotney Castle, Kent
13. Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
14. Lacock, Wiltshire
15. Nymans, Sussex
16. Mount Stewart, County Down
17. Tyntesfield, Somerset
18. Mottisfont, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
19. Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire
20. Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Top 20 hidden gem National Trust gardens

If you’re keen to explore some slightly off-the-beaten-track National Trust properties, you’re in luck. We’ve worked out which of the gardens have the highest review ratings, but the lowest number of reviews, showing that they may be less visited, but they’re still some of the most celebrated by those who make a stopover. Check out our top 20 list below and see which of these gardens and estates you might like to visit.

1. Rowallane Garden, County Down

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The gardens at Rowallane offer something for every season thanks to the variety of beautiful flowers and landscaping styles. The Pleasure Ground is home to a bandstand that once sat on Newcastle promenade, the Walled Garden offers ornamental plants, herbs, flowers and a pond, the Woodland Walk provides a tranquil shaded canopy, and the Rock Garden Wood is alive with colour from spring to autumn. The gardens here are such a treat for the senses, it’s no wonder it’s the top hidden gem of the National Trust.

2. Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk & Suffolk

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The beautiful Walled Garden at Felbrigg Hall was originally created to supply fresh food and flowers for the residents of the hall, so the beds here contain a mix of shrubs, herbs, vegetables and perennials. The orchard is bursting with fruit trees and even contains a colony of bees. The relaxing atmosphere here makes it perfect for a quiet stroll around the pathways, soaking up the splendour of the floral displays. The parkland that surrounds these carefully manicured gardens boasts a fish-filled lake and a haven for wildlife – perfect for longer walks or a doggy day out.

3. Gunby’s Gardens, Lincolnshire

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The estate at Gunby’s is perfect for enjoying long exploratory walks and discovering the ice house pond, with views of Gunby Hall in the distance (plus it’s dog friendly too!). Meanwhile the carefully landscaped Gunby Gardens boast vibrant wildflower areas, large green lawns and sheltered walled corners bursting with colour and aroma. Enjoy a lazy day strolling beneath the pergolas or winding your way through roses, honeysuckle, sundials and quaint fountains.

4. Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

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A single tower is all that remains of Sissinghurst Castle, but really it’s the gardens that visitors love. Considered by some to be one of the best gardens in Britain, each ‘room’ of the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle is designed around a theme, whether that’s the White Garden, the Rose Garden, the Lime Walk or the Cottage Garden. Each season brings unique delights here, although the roses in summer are particularly breathtaking.

5. Lacock Abbey Grounds, Wiltshire

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The grounds of Lacock Abbey offer a wealth of both landscaped and wild greenery and floral displays. Architectural treats like the neo-classical Sphinx or the Gothic Archway make exciting discoveries as you explore, and the Rockworks folly includes an eye-catching manmade cascade. The Botanic Garden is home to a variety of unusual plant species and in the orchard you’ll see several ancient varieties of apple.

6. Gibside Gardens and Parkland, Tyne & Wear

Pack a picnic and head to Gibside for a day out exploring its 600-acre parkland estate and gardens, all set against the backdrop of ruined historic buildings. The woodland and riverside are home to rare and beautiful wildlife, the Victorian garden and pond are a calm and peaceful spot to explore and the surrounding landscape of the Derwent Valley makes this a unique place.

7. The Argory Woodland & Riverside, County Armagh, Northern Ireland

The Argory in County Armagh is home to two formal gardens, as well as huge, sweeping green lawns. The rose garden houses dwarf rose bushes surrounding a sundial which bloom all summer long, making this a treat for the senses from June through to the end of August. The larger Pleasure Grounds are bursting with colour from the flourishing campanula, astilbes, lupins and phlox. A walk along the River Blackwater could offer a peek of beautiful Kingfishers and makes for a perfect, relaxing picnic spot.

8. Florence Court Parkland and Gardens, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

One of the most important Georgian Houses in Ireland, the grounds of Florence Court date back to the 18th Century. When walking around the gardens here you’ll be able to explore the pretty walled garden, rising and falling lawns, ornamental trees and shrubs, a sawmill, holiday cottage and ice-house, and even spot the Florence Court Yew, believed to be the ‘parent’ of all Irish Yew Trees. The surrounding estate of Florence Course Forest Park offers access to 15km of trails, all against the visually stunning backdrop of Benaughlin and Cuilcagh Mountains.

9. Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall

Trengwainton Gardens in Penzance is home to a wide variety of landscape styles and styles of plants and trees. Jungle-like tree ferns join blooming agapanthus, magnolias, rhododendrons and wild meadows, with wooded paths and large stretches of open spaces, all joined by sea views to make this a truly special National Trust gem. There are nine impressive walled gardens to explore, and you can follow a stream garden planted with a range of bog plants through the valley, through to the woodland garden and up to a terrace with views of Mount’s Bay.

10. Antony Garden, Cornwall

Perhaps Cornwall’s best kept secret, Antony Woodland Garden and Woodland Walks offer a wealth of wonders to wander through – 100 acres to be precise. Along with the formal gardens here, the woodland sweeps down to the Lynher estuary with its secluded coves and sea views. Hidden amongst the trees are modern sculptures and carefully tended floral displays. Movie fans might even recognise this as the filming location for parts of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – why not try to find the famous ‘rabbit hole’ while you’re here.

11. Godolphin, Cornwall
12. The Courts Garden, Wiltshire
13. Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire
14. Westbury Court Gardem Gloucestershire
15. Sizergh Garden, Cumbria
16. Great Chalfield Manor, Wiltshire
17. Petworth House & Pleasure Garden, Sussex
18. Overbeck’s Garden, Devon
19. Brockhampton, Herefordshire
20. Gertrude Jekyll Garden at Lindisfarne, Northumberland

We hope you’re feeling inspired to explore some of the incredible National Trust gardens around Britain. Booking ahead is essential at the moment due to social distancing rules, so head to the relevant National Trust page to plan ahead before you visit. If you can’t make it out, or simply want to bring a taste of National Trust into your own garden, we can help you find the perfect gardener or landscaper to bring your vision to life.

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  1. Hello Andy,

    Thanks for the article! We are delighted to be named #1 in Gardens. We would like to know how the decision was made on ranking the Gardens so we can add it to our marketing channels as well.

    kind regards,

    1. Hi Kyriane,

      We combined Google review average score and the number of Instagram hashtags to determine the best National Trust gardens. For the hidden gem list, National Trust gardens with the highest average review score, but less than average number of reviews were calculated. Data is correct as of 11/08/20.

      Amina @ Rated People

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