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About Abbey House Gardens
William Stumpe, the wealthy merchant responsible for giving Malmesbury Abbey back to the town following the Dissolution was also responsible for the building of The Abbey House. He built the house around 1542 on the foundations of the old 13th-century Abbots House.
During the English Civil War the house was used as a Governors residence. At this time the property had passed by marriage into the hands of the Ivey family - a painting of 1648 entitled "Birds Eye View" shows the house and lists it as being Mr. Ivey's house.
In the early part of the 20th-century Abbey House was bought by Captain Elliot Scott McCarty. He employed Sir Harold Break to enlarge the property with the addition of a nursery wing and servants quarters in the same style as the original building. Thus the house retains a unified appearance. The McKirdy family lived at the house for over 40 years, it was sold by them in 1968 to The Deaconess Community of St. Andrew, to be used as a retreat home.
When the order vacated the house in 1990 it lay empty until the present family bought it in 1994.
Today this remarkable house is surrounded by a truly superb garden, it is a triumph that perfectly compliments the house, with one of the most glorious aspects being a Saxon Archway surrounded by hedges, trees and beautifully planted flower beds.
Much of the garden is broken down into "rooms" of these the most captivating is the Celtic Cross garden. In this flower beds flourish around an old well, with the cross being influenced by St.Martin's cross on Iona. Here, serenity looms, giving time to reflect on Christianity of long ago whilst enjoying the arrangement of traditional knot garden plants such as sweet scented lavender.
There is a lovely herb garden, beautiful herbaceous borders, box, and an ornamental pond. The garden's strong medieval feel is enhanced by varieties of apple cordon, pears, medlars, vine and many rare plants that would have been grown when the monks lived and worked at the nearby abbey.
The crowning glory of the garden must be its magnificent display of over 2,000 species of roses. These are arranged to good effect reflecting the Tudor atmosphere pervading the main house. There is much use of Topiary, and another water feature where Koi Carp can be seen.
There are many wonders in this attractive garden, Dinosaur Grove is imaginatively laid out with trees from the days when the Dinosaurs trod the earth. Mingling with these, visitors can see vibrant camellias, acers and hydrangeas.
Each season at Abbey House gardens brings its own delights and colours. It is a very special place inspired by what once stood on the landscape and is a garden that gives joy to all who visit.
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