Welcome back to fashioneyesta.com.
Some of you may know this if you follow me on Instagram *coughs* (fashioneyesta.com) and that is I have a penchant for nature photography and have done for the last few years. I also have a tendency to want to explore the Kentish scenery which serves as my extended ‘back garden’ if you will. Having lived on the borders of Bromley, Kent for a good portion of my life one place I’ve wanted to take a pilgrimage to for ages, but haven’t, is Groombridge Place. Groombridge Place is a truly charming piece of heaven located not to far from Tunbridge Wells. Groombridge Place consists of beautiful gardens and forests surrounded by lush green countryside and a quaint village not to far away.
You may recognise the garden if you’ve seen the film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The gardens and forest is a mixture of wild growing blooms, large expanses of forest landscape with deers grazing freely through them, the trickle of water from the canals and water features and the striking structures of the landscaped gardens, mazes and other optical spenders of the place.
The place seems to have an element of childlike charm about it, many of the gardens and forest include elements of childhood fantasy like the giant chess set which instantly transports me into Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass and the Robinson Crusoe playground with its wooden claiming frames and promises of getting up to all kinds of mischief.
The gardens are an oasis to retire to after a long week, theres a steady flow of people filtering through each and as the place is so expansive you’ll always be sure to find a place to seek refuge to with a picnic warmed by the rays of the warm sun. The sound of trickling water can be heard throughout the Formal and Oriental gardens with its large water features placed central to them. Everywhere you go you are surrounded by nature the abundant fragrant blooms, the peacock leisurely strolling around the outside cafe, the deers ambling through the forest and the birds which circle the skies during the flying demonstrations. If your a person who likes nature and nature photography, this is a place that you’ll be sure to take delight in visiting.
What I love about Groombridge is the attention to detail and the fact that there is something to suit all the family, no matter their age or walking abilities. Whether you are someone who revels in exploring themed gardens like the Oriental Garden or the Secret Garden just close by. Or if you are a tiny tot or a big kid at heart who loves discovering little villages, giant forts to play in and giant swings to sweep across the forest you can discover something you’ll love. For me, I absolutely loved that the gardens had a predominant literary theme running through many of the gardens like The Secret Garden hidden behind a wooden gate with vines, wild blooms and shrubs growing inside and ornate statues tucked in the corner. Its as if any moment young Mary herself would appear from the cover of a large shrub, a scowl on her face that her garden had been discovered. But of course literature runs through this place in lots of other ares like water does through a river. It can be seen in many of the gardens like with the Giant Chess Set and the winding maze paying tribute to the work of Carroll. The forest look as if they’ve been plucked straight out of the pages of Tolkein or the Grimm’s fairytales. I half expected a pixi or sprite to emerge from the cover of the branches. Then theres the Connen Doyle museum which pays a nod to the writer of the Sherlock Holmes series even with the Baker Street sign outside the brick structure. But of course Groombridge also have themed events running throughout the year that are aimed for the family and relate to some literary work. This Summer the theme is Peter Pan, which was much to my delight as I spent a good nine months writing a dissertation on the text. Every so often a character from the book would appear in all their finery and delight the children with tales of Neverland. Throughout the day they also performed scenes from the book like the famed Crocodile scene or the scene with the Darling Children in the nursery. I have to say looking upon the delighted faces of the children with their families as they discovered the characters made me feel rather wistful that I couldn’t for one day relive my childhood too.
Once you have finished your trip around the gardens you walk by the canal which borders the forest, as canal boats drift on the waters by you. The winding bath then leads up to a large expanse of open ground which houses the archery activity and the bird flying demonstration area which gives shows of flying raptors to the public. Then the further you walk up the winding bath you eventually come into the forest. The forest is an enchanted world with surprises on each turn, you can find little faces carved onto the trees, a wishing pool, giant swings and small villages. On the walk as we picked our way past tree vines, we discovered grazing deers, the odd inquisitive squirrel here and there and often the faint screams of delight from children as they charged up and down the wooden fought and tiny villages.
Butterflies fluttered to and fro the wild blooms and the tall grass of the Vineyard and bumble bees busily went about their work pollinating the flowers. The place is an explosion of colour, sound and life. Its as if in that place nothing bad can touch you, its a place that emits a kind of happiness and sheer bliss. There is so much inspiration to be drawn from every single corner of the landscape just as a bee would draw the honey from a flower. If you’re a creative person at heart and want to find a source of inspiration Groombridge place has that in abundance.
By the time 4pm rolled round and we made our way home I could have happily spent the entire evening there simply roaming the gardens and forest to find even more discoveries. Its a place that you could quite easily visit again and again without tiring of its charm, you could easily discover new things and I imagine that the gardens look utterly stunning during the different seasons.
For me personally, I’m glad I visited during the warmer months, it was so lovely to be able to bask in the warm rays of the midday sun with an ice cream in hand just listening to the trickle of the fountain and the gentle hubbub of voices as people idly strolled through the gardens.
It seemed to me that Groombridge Place was more than just earth, flowers and trees. Its a pace that captures that element of whimsical charm about the place, if you’re a person who adores the outdoors, animals, fairy tales, literature, exploring or just being inspired as a creator Groombridge Place is somewhere I’m sure you’ll love to visit
I would also just like to briefly outline some points about accessibility. Groombridge place list access information on their website, click here to view. The gardens do have wheelchair access, disabled parking is available and the venue admits a carer free of charge on presentation of a DLA letter or some identification of your disability. The gardens also welcome guide dogs and a large number of the gardens have elements that are appealing to people with sensory disabilities such as audio, visual and tactile. The gardens and forest are not incredibly crowded or busy, there is a steady stream of people that filers through throughout the day.
Groombridge is open from 10am-5pm every day.
Full information on Groombrdige Place including how to get there, admission, events and so on can be found on http://www.groombrdigeplace.com.
So, that concludes this blog for today, I really hope you liked it. Do give Groombridge a visit if you’re in the area and let me know what you think.
Thank you so much for reading and I will see you again soon.