The Peto Garden at Iford Manor is an attractive destination for a short trip into the countryside, or on a walk through this part of Wiltshire, just five miles from Bath.
The pretty manor house is not open to the public, but its garden is opened every summer and also hosts outdoor events.
The Peto Garden is a peaceful and charming Italian-style garden on a terraced hillside. While the house is a Elizabethan manor with a Georgian facade, the garden today has been restored to its early twentieth-century state. Iford Manor was the home of landscape gardener Harold Peto for over 30 years, until his death in 1933, and his designs have been lovingly tended. Peto was also responsible for the lovely garden of Ilnacullin on Garinish Island in Ireland.
Iford is situated in green countryside close to the banks of the river Frome. The manor’s gardens slope upwards away from the river towards the tall woodlands above. The gardens, spread over terraces on the hillside, are ornamented with trees, assorted antiquities and architectural features including a set of cloisters.
In recent years, musical events have been a summer feature at the gardens, performed in the cloisters. This is a lovely place to come for a picnic and some jazz or opera on a warm evening, and enthusiasts should book ahead, as popular events can sell out. The summer events programme is organised by Iford Arts.
Iford can be reached by car from Bath, or on foot as part of a pleasant country walk. The small stations of Freshford and Avoncliff (hourly trains from Bath) are good starting points if you want to make the walk a bit shorter. As part of a day trip, it can be combined with the historic town of Bradford-on-Avon.
Note that opening times are limited – check that the garden is open before you visit. At weekends there is a tearoom serving refreshments.