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“Beautiful Gardens”
Review of Cothay Manor

Cothay Manor
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Greenham
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 17 June 2014

A group of four of us visited the gardens and tea rooms on a lovely sunny day in June. The tea rooms offered a limited light lunch - open sandwiches on rye bread, or toasted sandwich. The cake selection was splendid and various drinks were available (having read previous reviews I can confirm the hot drinks are now served in china cups!). The gardens were beautifully presented, many flowers in bloom and some lovely scents as you strolled around the grounds. It was a very peaceful experience with such well tended plants and lawns and plenty of seats dotted around to allow guests to sit and contemplate. There was a fair selection of plants available to purchase at reasonable prices. Toilet facilities a bit basic but clean and with hot and cold water and soap available. Entrance fee to the grounds was £7.50 but you could spend a good few hours enjoying the surroundings and taking in the peaceful atmosphere and listening to the birds singing. The house was closed on the day we visited.

Thank ColboySomersetUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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89 - 93 of 119 reviews

Reviewed 15 June 2014

This garden and medieval manor house hidden in the area around the Somerset and Devon border is a haven of peace and tranquility. The gardens are beautifully laid out, full of wonderful scent and colour and there is lots to see. The house tour is interesting and conducted by a member of the family who owns it. In fact this is very much a family house and garden and you are likely to come across the owners working in the tea room or the garden and their dogs, children, chickens etc wandering around. It all adds to the unique and wonderful atmosphere this place has. The tea room provides light lunches and cakes (delicious) and there are plants for sale. It's not really child friendly as they don't allow children on the house tours which won't suit everyone but for me that's a plus. Someone said in another review that the owners weren't friendly but this hasn't been my experience - they have always made me feel welcome and on the times I have visited my cup of tea has always come in a proper cup! All in all i can't recommend this place highly enough.

Thank Sue C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 June 2014

Visited Cothay Manor a week or so ago with my wife. Very welcoming and friendly staff with an excellent selection of plants for sale. The gardens are amazing with an extraordinary variety of plants. Sadly the house was closed when we visited but we are looking forward to going back soon to look around it.

Thank BarryAdams_1965
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 June 2014

I visited Cothay att the end of May 2104. My verdict: absolutely magical – I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The approach is a lovely (if awkward) drive along a couple of miles of narrow, winding, high-banked country lanes. If you know South Devon you’ll know what I mean: if you don’t, expect single-track lanes about 10 ft wide in parts, with little in the way of passing-places. The views from the lanes are beautiful. My own view is that the trip along the lanes only added to the pleasure of my visit. Note: do NOT attempt to use Sat Nav - rely on a map and the web site’s directions.

Built in about 1485 Cothay is an almost perfect 15th century country house. By a stroke of luck it went through a period of some 200 years in the 18th & 19th centuries when it was neglected, used as a farm and deteriorated. The result is that it has changed very little and, in particular, has never been “Victorianised.” The restorations which started in 1925 seem to have been carried out sympathetically and sensitively with the result that visitors experience an authentic and truly remarkable glimpse into medieval life.

The house is a kaleidoscope of oak beams, massive open fireplaces, wall paintings, mullioned windows, wood panels, molded ceilings and much, much more – it really is an architectural and historical treasure trove.

Above all however, Cothay is a home occupied by three generations - Mr & Mrs Alistair Robb, their daughter, son-in-law and grand children. They take (quite rightly) an enormous pride in their home. Their personal mementos and family photographs are everywhere.

Before entering the house visitors have to don plastic bag “overshoes” to protect the floors and carpets. Also, there are “house rules” to be adhered to such as: “no bags, no bulky coats” (because some rooms are small and ornaments etc can be damaged by loose clothing), “don’t sit on the furniture” (because some pieces are valuable antiques), “don’t touch the soft furnishings” (because thousands of hands stroking a curtain can soil or damage the fabric). These dos and don’ts (and the explanations for them) were delivered politely but firmly – we were left in no doubt as to what was required of us! I did not find this daunting or unfriendly – I felt it was justified bearing in mind that this is not a theme park - it is a family home - albeit an historically interesting one.

Our guided tour of the house (nearly 2 hours) was fascinating. Our guide was patient and good-natured, full of historical information livened with interesting stories. Photography is not permitted in the house so you will have to rely on Cothay's excellent web site (www.cothaymanor.co.uk/) for a taste of what is in the house.

The gardens are beautiful. Tall yew hedges create lengthy walks with “rooms” – each of which has different theme – an herbaceous border, a bog garden, a cottage garden, a purple Bishop’s garden, a silver knight’s garden etc, etc. It was laid out in 1925 by the then owner who was a friend not only of Harold Nicholson (of Sissinghurst fame) but also Lawrence Johnstone (of Hidcott). There are echoes of both of those famous gardens here. Topiary is everywhere. There is also a shop selling plants propagated from those growing in the garden. I am not surprised that the family are a bit protective of their garden – they must spend many hours tending it.

You need a minimum of four hours to do Cothay justice.

The gardens are open from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 11.00 am - 5.00pm. To see the house you need to be part of a guided tour. You can do this by either being part of a group booking, which can be made throughout the year (20 or more – minimum fee £135), or by joining one of the two guided tours that take place on Sundays (during the period from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September) at 11.45am and 2.15pm.

I found the cafeteria perfectly acceptable. Not palatial but perfectly acceptable. The tables are laid out in long lines – obviously because they have to cater for a tour parties. We were served Devon Cream Teas (£4.50) prepared and served by the family – even one of the grand daughters had been drafted in to help.

I accept that Cothay is not cheap. Entry to the garden is: Adults £7.50, under 12s £3.25. The guided tour of the house costs: £6.75 per person (children are not permitted on the house tour). If you have a guided tour of the house you also have to visit the garden, so the total price for house and garden is £14.25. As I say, Cothay is not cheap ……. but it is excellent value. It’s like they say – if you want to ride in a Rolls Royce, you don’t buy a Ford.

Overall verdict: Excellent experience, excellent value.

Web site: http://www.cothaymanor.co.uk/

2  Thank Warren H H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 June 2014

Having visited this fantastic garden some 12 years ago we were worried about going back in case it had been too 'commercialised' - it hasn't and we loved every second of our visit. The garden is amazing, you can almost feel the love that has gone into it's making, and it oozes history, it would be no stretch of the imagination to glipse an Elizabethan lady wandering in her garden. The garden is full of the sound of bird song and bees. The owner is lovely and deserves a medal for her hard work.

1  Thank DevonFisherman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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