Felley Priory is one of North Nottinghamshire’s best kept secrets. Amazingly only half a mile from the M1, the tranquil and immaculate 3 acre garden, set against rolling hills provides a pleasant year-round garden visit.
The carefully planted garden takes into consideration the history of this ancient priory and some of the rare and unusual plants can be purchased in the nursery next door.
Dating from the late 12th Century, the Priory formerly consisted of twelve canons following the Rule of St Augustine. In the Dissolution in 1535, most of the Priory was destroyed although parts were used elsewhere in the construction of the house and garden. Now a family home, the house is a handsome stone property with formal terraced gardens.
Yew hedging forms the bones of the garden punctuated by exquisite topiary. Yew clipped into balls, peacocks, castles and swans mean that the garden retains structure even in the colder months. The topiary shapes and hedges are the neatest I have every encountered. Amazingly, the yew is only clipped once a year.
In Spring, the orchard to the side of the house is a carpet of yellow, with thousands of daffodils heralding the season. The collection includes a number of rare species. At the time of our visit, some of the daffodils were beginning to ‘go over’ due to the unseasonably warm spell. I hope they hold out for the forthcoming NGS ‘daffodil day’ on Sunday 16th April!
Back through the rose garden which is a definite reason to return in the summer and through a tiny wooden door in the garden wall, reminicent of ‘The Secret Garden’ to the arboretum, where mown paths wind through the meadow, studded with hundreds of delicate fritillaries. Cherry blossom and magnificent magnolia bracts flower above. Bluebells are a late-spring highlight here too.
In the garden again, where a tranquil pool overlooked by yet more magnolias is a magnet to visitors and the surrounding beds are packed full with hellebores. Lysichiton (skunk cabbage) grows in the shallow water beside the pond where lillies flower in the summer months.
Also in summer, visitors can look forward to traditional herbaceous borders and the glorious scent of the old-fashioned rose garden. The garden is planted with a number of agapanthus ranging from white to deep blue.
The nearby farmhouse tea-room serves cake, scones and beverages as well as light lunches and hot meals.
Felley Priory is open year-round, Tuesday to Friday, 9am-4pm. If you wish to visit at weekends, it’s open on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month from February to October, 10am-4pm. Groups of 10 or more are asked to contact Felley Priory in advance. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you are an RHS member you can see Felley Priory for free on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (on production of your membership card of course!).
Admission is £5.00 per adult, £4.50 OAPs with no charge for children. Dogs are not allowed.