It’s a Trust Thing

PUBLISHED: 15:44 17 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 20 February 2013

The gardens at Dunster Castle by Martin Chainey

The gardens at Dunster Castle by Martin Chainey

Somerset and neighbouring Gloucestershire are home to the largest concentration of National Trust properties in the country, so as Trust properties across the county begin opening their doors for another season, you'll find plenty of ...


As the National Trust completes the lengthy restoration of the castle roof this year, the garden takes centre stage. A new guide to exploring this terraced garden, which dates back to the 18th century, has been published. Find out more about how its protected position and mild micro- climate in West Somerset create a perfect environment for palm trees and other tender plants, why it's home to the national collection of strawberry trees, and enjoy the new vistas over the Bristol Channel as the garden team open up historic views. Head there now to catch the spring bulbs, which have been planted in the garden for the first time.

Dunster Castle ( has also gone green as the Trust's first Grade I Listed building to install solar panels (you won't see them as they are sensitively sited on a flat roof). They will produce the equivalent electricity consumed by two ordinary family homes.

Dunster Castle, near Minehead, tel 01643 823004


A new exhibition for 2008 entitled 'On the Nature of Women; Tudor and Jacobean Portraits' is running all year in the Long Gallery. It includes a number of portraits of Tudor and Jacobean women previously unseen and loaned to Montacute House ( by the National Portrait Gallery in London. It explores the representation of women from 1530 to 1620. The exhibition is being curated by MA students from Bristol University to give them curatorial hands-on experience and to develop their art history and museological skills.

The Elizabethan mansion also now has a wedding licence. There are two rooms available within the house, the Georgian Drawing Room and the Great Hall, which featured in the 1995 production of 'Sense and Sensibility'.

Montacute House, near Yeovil, tel 01935 823289


Following last year's successful adventure into cider making at Barrington Court (, a new Cider Exhibition tells the story of the property's wonderful historic orchards and their links with cider. Follow the trail around the property, from the 200-year-old cider press and cider mill through the farm buildings, to the orchard and restaurant. A new South Somerset Apple Juice will also be available at Montacute House and Barrington Court this spring, created by apples from Trust orchards at Barrington, Glastonbury Tor, Montacute and Lytes Cary.

Barrington Court, near Ilminster, tel 01460 242614


This year sees the first public access to the wider estate since the Trust acquired Tyntesfield ( in 2002, with a new route through the woodlands at the top of the estate. In the house, guided tours of the first-floor bedrooms have been introduced for the first time. Join a guided tour and see the family bedrooms as the Trust begins conservation work on them.

Tyntesfield, Wraxall, near Nailsea. Tours bookable on tel 0871 527 1885 (£10 + booking fee), Saturdays and Tuesdays only at 10.15am.


The gardeners at Prior Park ( in Bath have been planting furiously over the past few months to introduce greenery into the newly restored Wilderness. Following the reinstatement of the Serpentine Lake and Cascade last autumn, the planting scheme for Alexander Pope's Wilderness is taking shape, using plants available in England in the 18th century.

Prior Park Landscape Garden, Ralph Allen Drive, Bath, tel 01225 833422


One of the Trust's gems in the county, Lytes Cary ( is much more than the Manor House and Arts and Crafts garden. It also boasts an extensive estate and this year the Trust will be opening up access to the wider estate with a series of waymarked trails and events. Exploring Lytes Cary, you'll find a classic example of the lowland English landscape of 50 years ago, with hedgerows, ponds, woodland, coppices and a plethora of wildlife. New walks leaflets are available from the property.

Lytes Cary Estate, near Charlton Mackrell, Somerton, tel 01458 224471


The smallest garden owned by the Trust in Wessex, Tintinhull ( is actually six garden rooms all linked physically and by the plant collection. During the nesting season you can watch the chicks on the webcams in the garden tearoom, which link to bird boxes throughout the garden.

Tintinhull Garden, Farm Street, Tintinhull, Yeovil, tel 01935 823289

National Trust membership offers free entry to 300 historic gardens and houses throughout the country. You can become a member either online or at any of the Trust's properties. For full details of all National Trust properties, visit

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