12. Suffolk – Wednesday 1 July

Ousden House Tour12

Ousden House Tour12


Great Thurlow Hall
Mr and Mrs George Vestey

Great Thurlow Hall is, in Pevsner’s words “a handsome mid-Georgian building”, which stands impressively above the River Stour and its 13 acres of garden. The main vista runs west from the house, overlooking a formal rose garden, planted with a central arrangement of creamy-white Claire Austin roses, past perennial borders and lawn sloping down to a bridge over the river (here gently swollen to almost lake-proportions), culminating in an avenue of Pyrus ‘Chanticleer,’ underplanted with Hydrangeas, with a temple portico in the distance. A blue-themed border, curving under an ancient yew, leads on to a red border, which echoes the colour of the brick wall of the kitchen garden. Through a wrought-iron gate is an enticing view of ancient apple trees following the line of the river. South of the house, curving yew hedges surround lawn and formal lily pond, a wider lawn beyond runs down to Atlantic cedars and the parkland beyond.

The Jockey Club Rooms, Newmarket
The Jockey Club

The Jockey Club was founded in 1750 for members with a keen interest in racing, who met in taverns in Pall Mall and St James’s. In 1752 they leased, and then bought, a plot of land in Newmarket and built a coffee house. The Jockey Club established rules to ensure fair racing on Newmarket Heath, which were gradually adopted by race courses across the country and abroad. Over time, the Jockey Club became the official governing body for horse racing in Britain. The coffee house was gradually enlarged and became the Jockey Club Rooms. In 1882 a large gabled wing was added to the rear, while the front, which was sympathetically rebuilt by Sir Alfred Richardson in 1933, incorporated the original coffee house. The Rooms now contain an unparalleled collection of equine paintings. We will be given a tour of the Rooms followed by lunch.

Ousden House, Ousden
Mr and Mrs Alastair Robinson

Alastair and Lavinia Robinson might be forgiven for settling down to enjoy their wonderful garden at Ousden but, after 25 years of planning and planting, it is still evolving. Arabella Lennox-Boyd gave some initial advice on the garden when the Robinsons were starting, with a clean slate, around the site of the demolished Ousden Hall, where only a clock tower and stable block remained, standing in a sloping field. The stable block, now their house, looks out over yew-hedged herbaceous borders towards a rose garden with double borders beyond. A double crinkle-crankle yew hedge surrounds the clock tower and winds towards gates into the park. Further from the house, the garden becomes more informal; a bog garden fills a former moat, and the woodland garden is maturing fast. Beyond this, and in delightful contrast to the rest of the garden, a beech wood runs down to a tranquil expanse of water.