Britain’s Gardens: Dunham Massey, Manchester

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

― Lewis Carroll

We are on the verge of winter and before you know it, England will be covered under a blanket of crispy snowflakes. Voted as “Britain’s best winter gardens”, by the readers of The Guardian, Dunham Massey is a true joy to visit during these cold and frosty months of the year. Situated in Manchester, the garden stretches out over 300-acres of deer park, surrounding an 18th century house.

Dunham Massey Gardens have several interesting historic features, including a Pump House, a Victorian Bark House, the remains of an Elizabethan Mount, and an Orangery. The house was built in the 1730s by George Booth and he planted thousands of trees in the park, the design of which still remains today. The Grey family lived at the estate for several years, after which the house was left empty for over 50 years. Later, Robert Grey took great care of the estate and bequeathed the house and the 300 acre estate to the National Trust on his death.

During the winter the garden, park, café and shop are pen from 11am to 4pm. The house/hospital and mill are closed to the public. Walks in the park are organised daily at 1:30pm. Wrap up warmly,  stroll around the park and discover the deer herd.

Besides strolling around and admiring the stunning birch trees and the beautiful deer, there are lots of Christmas events for you to enjoy at Dunham Massey in the festive months. On 29 and 30 November a traditional family Christmas will be held – make crackers, traditional decorations and bake buns to enjoy with mulled wine in the historic kitchen. Tickets are £15 for both adults and children. Or try your hand at the Christmas Wreath Workshop, a hands-on workshop with the gardeners to make your own wreath using natural materials collected from Durham. Tickets are £45 for adults, the price includes lunch and refreshments. For more information on other events at Dunham Massey, click here to find out more.

If you are looking for a retreat after a long day of strolling around Dunham Massey, stay at the lovely The George at Hathersage. This 500 year old traditional Derbyshire alehouse has been completely transformed into a beautifully designed haven while still retaining its original character. In the restaurant, Chef Helen Heywood has established a fantastic reputation for using fresh ingredients from local suppliers to create wonderfully flavoursome dishes presented simply and with a minimum of fuss. Hathersage makes an excellent base for – besides exploring Dunham Massey – discovering Chatsworth, the plague village of Eyam, Bakewell,  the Blue John mines of Castleton and Lady Bower Dam (used as a training ground for the Dam Busters), plus it’s only 20 minutes from the centre of Sheffield and within easy striking distance of Manchester.

Alternatively, stay at the wonderful The Maynard, which commands panoramic views of the valley and the beautiful Chatsworth House along with an excellent two AA Rosette-winning restaurant. Together with the nearby Haddon Hall, this ‘Palace of the Peaks’ was used as a location in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Take in this awe-inspiring vista – framed by huge picture windows – as you enjoy an imaginative menu prepared using fresh, locally sourced and organic ingredients, as well as a choice of wine from the hotel’s extensive cellar.

Have fun exploring the gardens of Dunham Massey!

Deer image by Frank Carman