At the foot of the North Downs, between the National Trust owned properties Clandon Park and Hatchlands Park lies the quaint village of East Clandon. Situated less than 5 miles from the busy Junction 10 of the M25 this tiny village of largely 16th and 17th century brick and timber houses boasts an active community. Although its roads are used as a rat-run to the busy A3, the village has lost none of its charm and features a tithe barn mentioned in the Domesday book. Despite the village’s diminutive size, it has an active and thriving village life with a pub, village hall and 12th century Church.
The first weekend in June saw the annual East Clandon in Bloom Festival, with not only open gardens but a flower festival and concert in the Church amongst other fund raising activities. With 12 gardens to explore, the trail led around the village and down narrow lanes, taking in tiny courtyard gardens at the Tithe Barn to a miniature 1.5 acre vineyard at High Clandon.
The first (and arguably the best) garden was the sort of gem you hope to find at an event such as this. Neat topiary and immaculate lawns set off alliums and blowsy peonies to perfection against the backdrop of a perfect country cottage.
Down the lane, sweeping views to the North Downs formed the backdrop of Holmhurst Cottage, its wavy borders flowing away to the farmer’s fields beyond whilst the Tithe Barn, divided into four properties each sported their own tiny gardens crammed with plants and each one quite different.
An art exhibition was a bonus at The Cottage, where the owner exhibited her own exquisite botanical illustrations at very reasonable prices. Very much an artist’s garden, both the conservatory and the summerhouse at the far end of the garden ensure that maximum light is available for painting.
Church cottage, another heart-stoppingly beautiful house was complimented by a very neat garden with, amongst other highlights, some rather lovely cloud trimmed topiary.
East Clandon village was a real treat to visit, its community spirit was obvious and we very much enjoyed our glimpse into the private gardens. The afternoon was topped off with a trip up the lane to High Clandon, a privately owned and run vineyard set on the slopes of the North Downs. With conditions similar to that of the Champagne region in France, this little enterprise is producing its own award winning English sparkling wine. A bonus of a sculpture exhibition meant that visitors lingered on the hillside, taking in the glorious views with the not so distant London on the horizon.