Mapperton Gardens

West Green Garden

The Newt Somerset

New Forest ponies

Mapperton House Gardens

A Garden Journey through Thomas Hardy’s Wessex 

Sunday 4th – Saturday 10th July 2021 (6 nights)

Tour highlights:

This two-centre tour journeys through Wessex – the ancient counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset. Hidden in these gently rolling hills are some of England’s most wonderful gardens. We visit many private gardens designed by notable garden designers – past and present and take a day trip to the Isle of Wight to see Osborne House, the summer home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

  • Private lunch at Hugh Fearnely-Wittingstall’s River Cottage
  • A day on the Isle of Wight including a visit to Queen Victoria’s Osborne House
  • Tour of Salisbury Cathedral
  • A visit to The Newt Somerset, one of England’s most ambitious new garden projects
  • See East Lambrook Manor Gardens, the cottage garden of the late Margery Fish
  • Exclusive visits to The Farrs, Heale House, South Wood Farm, Sandhill Farm and Shute House
  • Beautiful scenery of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex
  • Superb food and local produce

Photo credits: With special thank to Mapperton House, Heale House, The Newt Somerset and English Heritage for the use of their images. Copyright VisitBritain/Andrew Pickett; Jason Hawkes; Stephen Spraggon. Other images copyright Sisley Garden Tours.

Mapperton House gardens West Green House
Sunday 4th July

After our morning pick-up at Heathrow Airport, we head south-west to the charming, 4-star Eastbury Hotel in the heart of the historic market town of Sherborne in Dorset.

En-route we’ll visit The Newt, Somerset. This extensive new garden incorporates a Victorian fragrance garden, greenhouse, cottage garden, water gardens and colour rooms. At the core sits a Parabola walled garden with a collection of more than 460 trained apple trees arranged in a maze. Time for lunch (independent). This evening join your tour director and travel companions for dinner at the hotel (included).

Monday 5th July 

Today we begin with an exquisite private home and garden, that of the renowned British furniture designer, John Makepeace. The Farrs is one of the best contemporary gardens in the area and has been created by John and Jenny from scratch. Each has their own style and areas of the garden, hedging and grasses in one area, flowers and shrubs in another. We can also view the handsome historic house with its spectacular contemporary interior.

From here we continue to Mapperton House and Gardens, a magnificent Jacobean manor house and Italianate valley garden which is home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. Here we have lunch (independent) and time to explore the house and gardens. The distinctive Grade II* gardens descend from the formal topiary gardens and Orangery, to an arboretum, beyond which the land unfolds in small, steep valleys and headlands down to the sea five miles away. We return to the hotel for dinner (included).

Tuesday 6th July

We begin today with a private garden of great renown, South Wood Farm at Cotleigh. This exquisite garden was designed by Arne Maynard and surrounds a 17th century thatched farmhouse. This delightful country garden exemplifies how contemporary garden design can be integrated into a traditional setting. 

We continue on to River Cottage, home of the British chef, food writer and campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall. This organic smallholding is the headquarters for a range of courses and events, and home to the River Cottage Cookery School. We will explore the gardens and then enjoy a wonderful lunch (included) using produce from the farm.

In the afternoon we stop at East Lambrook Manor Gardens, a Grade I listed garden, created by the late author and celebrated plantswoman, Margery Fish. After her death in 1969 the garden, which remains in private ownership, has been superbly restored and developed. We will meet the owner for an introductory talk, then wander through the gardens at leisure. Your evening is at leisure in Sherborne.

Wednesday 7th July

After check-out our first visit of the day is to Shute House Gardens, designed by famous landscape architect, Geoffrey Jellicoe. The most notable feature is the rill garden, where water runs straight down the hillside, over copper waterfalls to the hexagonal bubble fountain. We have morning coffee and a tour of the garden before heading to Salisbury. On arrival in Salisbury there will be a short tour of Salisbury Cathedral with our tour director and free time for lunch (independent).

In the afternoon we visit a splendid private garden at Heale House, the home of garden designer Frances Rasch. The 17th century house on the banks of the River Avon, has a 20th century Arts & Crafts garden designed by Harold Peto in 1910. We will have a walk through the gardens with Mrs Rasch. In the afternoon, we check into our hotel, the 4-star Lainston House Hotel. Dinner is included at the hotel.

Thursday 8th July

We make an early start to catch our ferry from Southampton docks to the Isle of Wight – England’s largest island. The Isle of Wight has been a popular holiday destination since Victorian times and is now designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Queen Victoria built her much-loved, palatial summer home here, and that is our destination. On arrival at Osborne House there will be free time to explore the recently renovated grounds, take a walk to the beach, see Swiss Cottage – the Royal playhouse and have lunch (independent).

In the afternoon we take a drive across the island and return by ferry to the New Forest National Park. As we meander through the park, keep an eye out for the native horses. We make a stop in the pretty village of Stockbridge for a ‘taste of Hampshire’ pub supper (included).

Friday 9th July

This morning we meet an influential character in English gardening, Rosemary Alexander, principal of The English Gardening School, lecturer, writer and judge at Chelsea Flower Show. We take a tour of her own garden at Sandhill Farm and enjoy a light lunch at her home. 

In the afternoon we visit the National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey. Sweeping lawns surround the converted medieval priory that Maud Russell made her home in the 1930s. She brought artists, writers and designers here to relax, have fun, and make work inspired by Mottisfont’s past, such as Rex Whistler’s extraordinary trompe l’oeil drawing room. In the walled gardens, the old-fashioned roses may be nearing the end of their peak flowering season, but there are many other aspects to delight the garden visitor. We return to the hotel for our final night dinner (included).

Saturday 10th July

This morning we make a brief visit to the city of Winchester, the ancient capital of England to see its delightful cathedral, the longest medieval cathedral in Europe. We then continue onto West Green Garden, one of England’s finest manor house gardens marrying traditional style with contemporary design. It was created by acclaimed garden designer and Chelsea Flower Show award winner, Marylyn Abbott. We will have lunch in the gorgeous garden conservatory (included) and free time to explore the stunning gardens.

We will make one drop off at the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel and one at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3. From here, you can take the Heathrow Express train into central London (Paddington Station) or use the free inter-terminal transport to reach another terminal. We can advise on departure planning.

Please read our Tour Joining and Departure Arrangements information sheet here or download a printable version of this itinerary by clicking here.

Mapperton House gardens RosesMapperton House gardensOsborne houseIsle of WightThe Newt Somerset July plantingWest Green House Gardens, HampshireNew Forest poniesMottisfont copyright VisitHampshireWhite Horse Salisbury

2021 Journey through Thomas Hardys Wessex final

Our Hotels

Our hotels are 4-star and selected for their high standards of comfort and service. All rooms are en-suite and offer free wi-fi access.

The Eastbury, Sherborne (3 nights)

The Eastbury is a family run, boutique hotel located in the historic town of Sherborne with its beautiful abbey and castle. Originally designed as an 18th century Georgian gentleman’s residence, the rooms are imbued with warmth and character and offer a real home from home feel. The public areas offer a choice of two lounges to relax in, a library and snooker room. The 2 AA Rosette restaurant boasts home grown produce with views of the charming walled garden. Don’t miss the newly built ‘bijou’ spa in the gardens.

The Eastbury

Lainston House, Winchester (3 nights)  

Lainston House is a 17th century luxury hotel, situated just outside Winchester. All the bedrooms are individually designed and styled so that no two are the same, but charm and style are constant throughout. The house, which is approached along a mile long avenue of Lime Trees, is surrounded by 63 acres of gorgeous parkland and gardens with many walking trails, tennis courts and a croquet lawn. There is a fascinating productive walled garden that supplies the restaurant, an aviary and renowned cookery school.

Lainston House
TOUR PRICES: Prices are per person, based on twin/double room share, with single supplement (solo occupancy of a double room) shown separately. Tours are priced in £GBP.

 Tour cost per person (sharing twin or double room) Single Supplement (for single occupancy of a double room)
£3,500 (GBP) £500 (GBP)

PRICES INCLUDE: Accommodation at 4-star hotels with en-suite facilities based on twin/double room share; buffet breakfast daily; 3 lunches and 5 dinners; admissions to gardens; deluxe coach travel with professional driver; guided tours as described in an information pack provided at the start of the tour; services of your Sisley tour director throughout; all tour gratuities; arrival transfers are included only if you are joining the tour at Heathrow Airport on the first morning of the tour.

PRICES EXCLUDE: Airfares; passport and/or visa fees; beverages; laundry; telephone calls; lunches and dinners (except where included in the itinerary); souvenirs and items of a personal nature.

EXCHANGE RATE INFORMATION: You can get an idea of the cost of the tour in your local currency by using a currency converter. Conversion rates are based on institutional or inter-bank daily rates. Retail conversation rates include fees and will generally differ from these rates.

Osborne HouseWest Green house

We are delighted that you have decided to join us. It is straightforward to book places on our tours.

Firstly, please complete our booking form (link below). The booking form will ask you to indicate how you would like to book the tour from the following options: 

  • In $USD by check or credit card with our appointed travel agent in the USA, Worldwide Traveler
  • In your local currency through your own travel agent. The booking form asks for their contact details so that we can contact them to progress your booking
  • In £GBP by credit card via Paypal or by direct bank transfer directly with Sisley Garden Tours

Once we have received your booking form, we will confirm that places are available and ask you (or your preferred travel agent) for a 10% deposit to secure your booking. Tour balance payment is due 90 days prior to the tour.


We very much look forward to welcoming you, but please email tours@sisley.co.uk if you have any queries.

If you would like to complete our online booking form, please click the Book Now button.
Please contact us if you have any queries about the tour or would like to arrange for us to call you back.
To download a PDF of the tour itinerary to print out or send to friends, please choose the Print Itinerary button.
Read through our Frequently Asked Question section to find out more about our tours, dress code, average day, tips etc.
To assist you in pre and post tour planning, you might wish to read our tour Joining and Departure Arrangements. Click opposite for further details.
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