Visiting the garden at Ickworth
Explore the immaculate Italianate garden at Ickworth which encircles the Rotunda. The earliest surviving example of its kind, the 1st Marquess designed the garden as pleasure grounds for his family and guests to enjoy. Discover how the Marquess brought the Mediterranean to a Suffolk garden.
Grand Tours and grander designs
The 1st Marquess dedicated his life to realising his father’s dream for Ickworth and under his watch, the Rotunda was finally completed. He next turned his attention to creating Italian-style gardens to complement the architecture.
On returning from his Grand Tour of Europe, a journey undertaken by a number of men in the 18th century, the Marquess set about bringing the Mediterranean to Suffolk. Corridors of manicured hedges sit alongside towering cypress trees.
You will find lawns that stretch from border to border and shrubs in muted colours set the tone. Thanks to his son, the Earl Bishop’s Italianate vision flows inside and outside the house.
Explore the gardens today as they were in their heyday, when aristocratic ladies and gentlemen spent their leisure time strolling along the neat pathways, playing croquet, or promenading on the raised terrace.
The gardens at Ickworth reflect the changing times of the estate. The Stumpery was created by the garden team and adds a dash of Victorian mystery to the present day. The stumps belong to trees that were uprooted during the Second World War, when fields were sown to ‘Dig for Victory’.
Their gnarled roots nestle amongst the ferns and provide a shady spot that’s a perfect habitat for wildlife. In the Temple Garden, with its classical summerhouse and Mediterranean-style planting, you'll find a refreshing 21st-century spin on Ickworth’s Italianate theme.
A labour of love
The design of the gardens may be restrained, but they express the Herveys' devotion to home and family. The 1st Marquess included his children in designing the gardens and named many walks after them and other relatives.
Lady Geraldine’s walk, which weaves through carpets of snowdrops and aconites in the spring, is named after the 3rd Marquess’s wife. She took great pleasure ambling along its pathways while she was pregnant.
The 4th Marquess loved nothing more than to don his old clothes and dig up thistles. The Herveys cherished the freedom they had in their gardens, and carefully maintained them for future generations.
The 1st Earl’s spring garden
The walled garden has had many different identities since it was first created, from 18th-century leisure gardens to 20th-century working kitchen gardens.
It began its life in 1701 as a pleasure garden. Its red-brick walls sheltered visitors as they strolled through its different rooms. Set on a five-and-a-half-acre site, it’s one of the largest of its kind in East Anglia. Set close to the original Tudor house that preceded the Rotunda, the 1st Earl of Bristol enjoyed many a quiet hour in his ‘spring garden’.
Today you’ll find the walled garden as the perfect picnic spot for families, with spectacular views across the parkland.
Discover the house and the treasures collected by the flamboyant 4th Earl of Bristol at Ickworth, a magnificent Italianate palace in the heart of Suffolk.
Explore the parkland at Ickworth, encircled with layers of history, landscape and classic architecture. Enjoy space, freedom and inspiring views as you wander at your leisure.
Treat yourself in one of the cafés at Ickworth with a variety of tasty treats, light snacks and hot and cold drinks. Or grab a bargain as a souvenir of your visit in the shop or Plant Centre.
Find out more about cycling at Ickworth, including the cycle hire hub available in the car park. Pack a picnic and start your adventure.
There are loads of different family activities designed to help you explore and discover the Ickworth estate this Winter. However you choose to spend your day with us, your adventure starts here.
Ickworth is a three pawprint rated place. Let your four-legged friends lead you on a voyage of exploration around miles of parkland, offering new and exciting discoveries.
From 18th-century water gardens and Arts and Crafts landscapes to intimate woodland gardens, there are so many places to discover.