Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire is a 15th century castellated manor house, set in over a thousand acres of parkland, pasture and woodlands. Hampton Court Castle predates Hampton Court Palace by about 80 years. The original manor house was built in 1427 by Sir Rowland Lenthall at the time of his marriage to Margaret Fitzalan a cousin of King Henry IV. In the early 19th century the estate was purchased by Richard Arkwright, son of the man whose inventions were a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution, also called Richard. The Castle was largely remodelled in the 1830s and 1840s, but the Arkwrights lived at Hampton Court until 1912.
We took the tour of the castle which was given by a friendly and very informative guide.
The original Victorian garden walls now enclose the gardens which have been developed by the present owners since the mid 1990s. The new flower gardens are divided by canals, island pavilions and pleached avenues. The ornamental kitchen garden has a selection of fruit and vegetables which are used in the conservatory restaurant. Herbaceous borders stretch out from the 150 year old wisteria tunnel (not in flower at the time of our visit).
From the formal gardens, you can walk through to the expansive lawns, sit beneath the ancient trees, or take a walk alongside the River Lugg which runs through the estate. The riverside walk takes you through surrounding woodland where swings and zip wires hang from the massive trees.
There is a maze of a thousand yews with a gothic tower in the centre, from the top of which are panoramic views of the gardens. Below the maze is a secret tunnel which leads to the magical sunken garden with a waterfall that you can walk behind.
We visited the Orangery Restaurant to indulge in a cream tea, but much to our disappointment they had sold out, even though it was only early in the afternoon (1430 hours) and there were only a few cakes left to choose from. Tea for two, an almond cherry bakewell and chocolate brownie cost £9.
Visited: April 2014
Cost of entrance to Castle and gardens was £11.50 for adults, £5.75 for children 5-14 years, £10 seniors. Season tickets are available.
If you are planning a visit with children, it is worth checking the Hampton Court events calendar as there are school holiday activities on certain days aimed at children, which are included in the admission price.