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Snowshill Manor and Garden

SNOWSHILL, Broadway, WR12 7JU

Charles Wade was the sort of entertainingly eccentric and brilliantly left-field friend you'd be glad to have, but who you'd simultaneously rather didn't ever actually pop round to your house. Wade was a wealthy sugar plantation owner, and Snowshill Manor once belonged to him. His family motto was 'Let nothing perish', and Wade embodied it. He spent his life and his inheritance amassing a spectacular collection of everyday and extraordinary objects from across the globe, buying objects because of their colour, craftsmanship and design and restoring this golden-yellow Tudor-era manor house to display them. Laid out theatrically according to Wade's wishes, the Manor is literally packed to the rafters with 22,000 or so unusual objects - from bicycles to musical instruments, clocks, Chinese lacquer cabinets, farm implements, works of art, tiny toys, suits of Samurai armour and more. Having filled the manor house with his finds, Wade had to live without any comforts or conveniences in the old Priest's House out in the lovely terraced garden, and to sleep in an old Tudor bed. The fame of Snowshill Manor rightly travelled far and wide. Eminent people - John Buchan, John Betjeman and J B Priestley among them - were frequent visitors. Queen Mary had a look around, and apparently said that the finest thing in the house was Wade himself. Snowshill Manor is one of the most astonishing and absorbing museums it's possible to imagine. Its wildly diverse collection has something to interest all but the most hardened detractors of museums. But the interest of the place extends beyond the house itself. Wade was an architect, and a devotee of the Arts and Crafts ideals popularised by William Morris. In 1919 he commissioned another like-minded architect, M H Baillie Scott, to transform grounds he called 'a wilderness of chaos'. Chaos became a series of terraces, the Armillary Court, notable shrubbery, the Well Garden and the kitchen gardens. In short, the Manor is surrounded by an intriguing terraced hillside garden designed in the Arts and Crafts style. Like the Hidcote Manor gardens, the Snowshill Manor gardens were built as a series of interconnecting 'rooms'. Snowshill's rooms provide spectacular views over some of the most beautiful countryside in Gloucestershire. A beautiful double border to the left of the terrace garden combines bright red Oriental and yellow Welsh poppies. Artfully trained climbers conquer the other wall, while the bold lines of espaliered figs stand out in tempting fashion. Charles Wade had a special love of the colour blue. The seats and woodwork throughout the gardens at Snowshill are painted with a particular shade now known as 'Wade' blue - a powdery dark blue with a touch of turquoise. This blue harmonises well with the Cotswold stone walls, and is a particularly attractive colour in a landscape setting. It also provides a sympathetic foil for the mauves and purples the gardens use to good effect. In adopting this 'signature' colour for the garden furniture, Wade acted in accordance with his feeling that no shade of green paint could possibly match the magnificent hues of nature. A spring rising under the manor house feeds a garden fountain and several small basins and pools. As you climb the steps near the shrubbery, the path is overhung with weeping white mulberries. The atmosphere of the Victorian romantic garden is strong. For almost two decades, the garden at Snowshill has been managed without the use of any chemicals. The gardeners rely on wildlife to maintain a perfect natural balance. They use natural feeds composed of seaweed extract, blood, fish and bone. Snowshill's home-grown compost has an added special ingredient: dove excrement from the dovecote. The judicious planting of nectar-rich species, including alliums, asters, echium, marigolds, mignonette and sedums, attracts bees and other beneficial insects into the garden. In turn, they earn their keep by feeding on aphids and other pests. Sloe, hawthorn, elderberry and spindleberry, guelder rose, wild roses, dogwood and field maple are planted along visitors' route to the manor. These British natural shrubs produce early blossoms, nuts or fruits, or provide habitat for birds and small mammals. Visitors to the garden who might be unaware of these specific planting plans are nonetheless almost certain to notice the joyous variety of bird songs and the friendly hum of the bees as they wander through the grounds. Today, the National Trust owns and operates Snowshill. The trust displays Wade's eccentric collections and maintains the charming country gardens to its usual high standard.

Further information

Tel: 01386 852410
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National Trust

Prices

£10.80 (ch £5.40). Family £27. Garden only £5.80 (ch £3). Family £14.50

Opening times

Open 29 Mar-2 Nov, Wed-Sun & BHs
House 12-4, Garden 11-5.30
7 Jul-Aug, Wed-Mon, House 11.30-3.30
Garden 11-5.30
Average visit 2.5hrs

Facilities

Parking.
Café.

Dogs

Accessibility

Partly accessible. Limited wheelchair access, 3 steps to front of manor, terraced garden
Braille guides, audio tapes, 2 wheelchairs, buggy transfer available, virtual tour
Toilets.

Snowshill Manor and Garden

Map

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Directions

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2m SW of Broadway, off A44

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