Dyrham Park: Take a Day Out
Anyone who remembers watching The Remains Of The Day would be familiar with the opening scenes. In particular the approach to Darlington Hall, otherwise known in real life as Dyrham Park.
The last time I went to Dyrham Park was nearly a year ago. It was a weekend when I paid a visit to family. It was a gorgeous sunny day, so it was a great opportunity to take in the great outdoors.
Where did the great outdoors take us?
While I was interested in seeing the house, as a keen nature lover I was more interested in walking around the extensive grounds of the estate. Especially around the gardens. One thing I like about going to stately homes, especially the ones managed by the National Trust is the effort the gardeners go to. Ensuring the grounds are in as near a state as they were back in their heydey. Dyrham Park impressed me thoroughly, with as many as 11,000 bulbs being used for the West Garden alone.
The walk through the estate started from the stables, and took us through winding paths in the garden around the artificial lake and water cascades. All the way through the more formal gardens and eventually up an incline to St Peter’s Church. Although not owned by the National Trust the church has a long and historical association with Dyrham House.
Although I enjoyed the history and features of the house as we ventured inside, the garden was the winner for me.
The grounds and gardens are what I call the sexy part of the estate. It consists of nearly 300 acres of garden and parkland, where you can also find a large herd of fallow deer.
The original gardens were designed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries based on the Dutch water garden design. The owner of the estate at the time was very much influenced by the Dutch style.
The original house itself was acquired by the Blathwayt family in 1689, and it was quickly added to, eventually morphing into the house you see today. Due to the Blathwayt family’s royal connections at the time, the house became a showcase for the Dutch style of art. And this is evident when you walk through the house by observing Delftware and tulip vases.
As with all British aristocratic families in the 20th century, fortunes started to dwindle. A combination of death duties, crippling taxes, and the fall in the value of farmland impoverished the Blathwayt family. So much that the family could not afford to keep the estate, and in the end was acquired by the government. Apparently, the house was in such a state that sheep could be found roaming inside the house.
So what does this have to do with that fine movie?
First, like the fortunes of Darlington Hall, Dyrham Park suffered the same fate; a benefactor of great wealth, eventually falling victim to hard times. And then experiencing a resurgence.
Second, at the time I hadn’t seen The Remains of the Day for years. Long enough to almost forget. So, as we came out of the house, we trundled along the front lawn. I looked to my right, up the steep hill nearby, and thought this would be a great vantage point to take a photo. And as I took the photo, I had this sense of deja vu. Like I’d been here before. It was obvious I hadn’t, but I vaguely remember seeing this view from somewhere. Out came the smartphone, on to the Dyrham House article on Wikipedia, and there it was. Dyrham House was used as the exterior of Darlington Hall.
So there you have it. My photo of the week…
Visiting Dyrham Park
|Opening times||The estate is open most days of the year, although times slightly vary depending on the time of year. Check the Dyrham Park National Trust website before you make your journey|
|Getting there||The estate is within easy reach of Bath and Bristol. However, it's very difficult to get to Dyrham Park directly by public transport. But if you're feeling more adventurous, you could take the train to either Bath Spa or Bristol Parkway stations and make your way from there by taxi. Although this would involve travelling at least 20 minutes to get there as well as a pricey fare each way there and back. I'd recommend coming by car. You can reach Dyrham Park easily from the M4 motorway and from Bath. Again, check the National Trust website for more detailed directions.|
|Best time to go||Although the property is open for most of the year, I'd recommend coming in the Spring and Summer (April-September) when the gardens are in full bloom. The weather is more pleasant at this time. However, October is also a great time to experience the autumn colours.|
|Costs||Prices start from as little as £7.50 per child up to around £38 for a family ticket. If you're a regular visitor to National Trust properties, I'd recommend joining the National Trust as a member - entry is free and you also get free parking.|
|More information||Become a National Trust member:
Dyrham Park (National Trust) website:
Train tickets can be booked through GWR. Book early for the best discounts: