Just 4 short miles from Leominster in Herefordshire lies Berrington Hall, a Georgian mansion set within ‘Capability’ Brown’s final garden and landscape. An hour’s drive from my home over the border in Mid Wales, Berrington Hall was our destination on a damp winter’s day this past weekend.
Blink and you’ll miss the turn for Berrington Hall. Despite its location next to the A49 between Leominster and Ludlow, there seems to be a lack of signs. We knew where the mansion was (I’ve passed it many times), we just weren’t sure on the entrance. We initially drove past and had to turn around and go back. I’m not sure why there aren’t the usual tourist signs on the roadside and the National Trust signage didn’t appear until we’d gone through the gateway.
Having parked the car, we walked to the visitor reception to pay our entrance fees (or in one case, show a membership card for free entrance). The visitor reception is situated in the Triumphal Arch, a delightful entrance to the property. The Triumphal Arch was formerly the coachman’s home and was more recently used as a shooting lodge. However, you can now book it as a holiday cottage for a price (complete with entry to the grounds and parkland after hours!).
With clouds gathering overhead, we made our way straight to the neo-classical mansion itself.
The mansion was built in the late 1700’s by Henry Holland for the son of the 3rd Earl of Oxford. Holland’s business partner, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was responsible for the design of the landscape and parkland around the hall. These two men are responsible for so many of England’s country mansions and grounds.
The fine interiors of Berrington Hall speak for themselves and each room tells a story. You can explore the family rooms, as well as the servants quarters. As always in this kind of property, don’t forget to look up. You can find some amazing ceilings! As per usual, there are written details of the property in each room and staff members or volunteers are always nearby to answer any questions.
After a tour of the mansion, we exited the building through the servants quarters and into the courtyard. We had a quick look in the laundry room before heading into the gift shop (they had a sale on!). The Servant’s Hall Tearoom was just across the courtyard, but we were heading to Ludlow Food Kitchen for our lunch afterwards, so we didn’t drop in. However, National Trust properties also have a tendency to have secondhand bookshops, so we popped into the Stable Bookshop and got a bargain book for just £2!
Next, we headed to the Walled Garden. I’m sure this looks magnificent during the summer months, but it still looks well-kept during the winter months. The walled garden produces much of the seasonal fruit and vegetables used in the tea-room, very much like it would have done for the mansion back in the day.
There are many walking trails around the landscape surrounding Berrington Hall. Due to the weather, we didn’t walk them, but I’ll definitely be going back later in the year to take a leisurely walk around the grounds as there’s plenty more of this wonderful place to see. Dog-walkers will be pleased to know that dogs are welcome in the grounds. There is also a play area for children and I’m sure they’d enjoy running around the parkland, too.
So all in all, we had a lovely visit to Berrington Hall and I’m already looking forward to visiting again when the weather is more favourable.
Croft Castle is just down the road, as is Ludlow Castle, and I’d recommend visits to both Ludlow and nearby Leominster.
Berrington Hall is currently only open weekends, but goes back to a normal timetable of 10am – 5pm (with the mansion and shop opening 11am – 5pm), 7 days a week, as of Monday, 13th February 2017.
At the time of writing, entrance fees are £9.90 per adult for the whole property and £7.70 for the grounds and ‘below stairs’ only (with discounts for children, families and groups).