Country Houses and Gardens in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is a county blessed with a wonderful array country houses and gardens.

In the north of the County, lies Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Woodstock. It is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and is currently home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough. It has over 300 years of history to discover and more than 2000 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens to explore. Also in the north, close to Banbury, is Broughton Castle a fourteenth century fortified manor house set within a moat. Its gardens are delightful with the Ladies Garden particularly looking beautiful in summer and boast a variety of roses and borders stocked with perennials and shrubs.

Venture west to find Cogges Manor Farm, a 13th-century manor house and scheduled ancient monument with a farmyard and walled garden. Further west is Batsford Arboretum home to one of the country’s largest private tree collection with 56 acres of wild gardens, paths, streams and stunning views, especially in autumn. They also have a garden centre where you can pick up expert gardening tips and everything you need for the garden and allotment.

To the south is Stonor Park, home to the Stonor family for over 850 years. Voted as number 7 in the top stately homes in the UK, there is plenty to see and do at Stonor including a great programme of events throughout the year.

In Wallingford you will find the site of one of the strongest and most important castles in England. The building of the castle began in 1067 on the direct instructions of William the Conqueror, it was expanded in the C13 and went on to become a royal castle. The site is now a garden offering the visitor a peaceful stroll and a place for rest and contemplation amongst the ruins.

Just a stone’s throw from Oxford is the delightful Waterperry Gardens (pictured above) where visitors can explore 8 acres of beautiful ornamental gardens, sample Afternoon Tea in the cafe, and pick up a few souvenirs in the garden shop.

The city of Oxford is full of green spaces to relax and unwind. The high walls of Oxford’s time-honoured colleges enclose peaceful gardens, such as Wadham College‘s lush gardens and Britain’s oldest Botanical Garden occupies a charming position on the River Cherwell in the heart of Oxford. The city’s many parks and meadows like Christ Church Meadows, South Parks, University Parks and Port Meadow are some of the best parks you can visit in Oxford.


Take a cycle tour with the Carter Company to explore the county or book a chauffeur-driven guided tour to visit the beautiful country houses. Find all tours listed here.

Guidebooks & Information

Oxfordshire’s scenic beauty and lush gardens are a delight for all senses, whatever the season or weather. Long distance footpaths like the Ridgeway, Thames Path and Shakespeare Way run through the county, with hundreds of miles of wonderful walking. We have a great walk mapped out for the Oxfordshire Thames Path in our 2018 visitor guide you can enjoy. Or get one of our guide books and discover explore walking trails across Oxfordshire.

If you need any ideas, feel free to visit our Oxford Visitor Information Centre – we are full of ideas and can help you plan the perfect walk in the county.

Gardens to Visit in Oxfordshire

Often you don’t even have to leave your street to pick up ideas for your garden. Looking at what grows best in your neighbour’s plot is a good indication of what will work in yours. Most of us gardeners enjoy a small amount of horticultural rivalry with those around us and keeping up with the Joneses is a fairly essential ingredient in gardening. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition amongst flowerbeds!

On June 10th, Mr and Mrs Farrands from the charming village of Iffley, will be opening their inspiring garden as part of the National Gardens Scheme. Oxford Garden Design help Mr and Mrs Farrands keep their gardens looking good all year round. But it has to be said there will be a little pressure in the lead up to June to get the garden looking picture perfect! The garden, seen here on the right, is packed with inspiration and a credit to the owners who transformed it after extensive building work. There are seven other gardens to see in Iffley village on June 10th, varying in style from the large Malt House garden, to a thatched 17th Century cottage garden and family gardens with mixed herbaceous borders. It should make a great afternoon out for garden lovers.

Gardening is a wonderful way to encourage people to share their skills as well as to enhance a community spirit.

Best Gardens in Oxfordshire to Visit for Garden Month 2019

Rousham offers sweeping lawns, Roman sculptures and structures, and a traditional walled garden. It even has its very own ruin (even though it’s only ornamental.) Rousham House and Gardens is one of Britain’s best-kept secrets and offers one of the most tranquil garden experiences out there.

Waterperry Gardens

The site of Waterperry Gardens was once home to Beatrix Havergal’s School of Horticulture for Ladies. These days it is home to eight acres of beautiful ornamental gardens. The site also features a garden centre with an art gallery, a gift shop, a rural life museum, and a tea room. The last twenty years have seen the garden shift and transform as the team complete new gardening projects, creating an ever-changing and diverse mixture of styles.

Waterperry Gardens recently became part of the Silent Space project. A movement that creates quiet places where people can escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The Formal Garden created by Bernard Saunders and Mary Spiller is now a permanent addition to the project and an ideal place to escape to.

Blenheim Palace

It’s impossible to talk about gardens in Oxfordshire without mentioning Blenheim Palace. This ancestral home of Winston Churchill is surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens. From traditional formal gardens to lush parkland, Blenheim is an essential visit.

The formal gardens have been developed over the centuries by famed garden designers including Capability Brown protégé Henry Wise. These grounds include scenic water terraces, a private Italian garden and the recently created Churchill Memorial Garden. The Pleasure Gardens offer a more modern approach, featuring a miniature train, a yew-tree maze and a butterfly farm among rolling parkland.

Once you’re done exploring these fantastic gardens, be sure you have somewhere just as beautiful to rest your head. Situated in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside near Witney, Hardwick Parks offers self-catering touring and holiday home accommodation.

Waterperry Gardens have been delighting visitors for years with 8 acres of historic and inspirational gardens nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside.

The gardens feature a spectacular 200 foot herbaceous border along with rose and formal gardens, a lily canal and riverside walk.

The Plant Centre and Garden Shop stock everything for the garden with many plants grown in the on-site nursery.

The Art-in-Action Gallery and Gift Barn house beautiful artworks by British artists alongside home, outdoor living and gift ideas.

Waterperry’s Rural Life Museum is packed with quirky ephemera and the Saxon Church within the grounds is complete with its original 13th century stained glass windows.

No visit is complete without stopping by at the Teashop serving hot and cold lunches, afternoon teas and some of the best cakes in the county!

Waterperry Gardens are just 7 miles from Oxford city centre.

The Gardens

  • Virgin’s Walk
  • Sebbs & Rock Gardens
  • Herbaceous Border
  • Islands Beds
  • Alpine Garden
  • Waterlily Canal and Miranda’s Border
  • The Formal Garden
  • Cordon Avenue & Pear Walk
  • Long Walk – Colour Borders
  • Mary Rose Garden
  • Riverside Walk
  • Saxifrage Collection

Childrens Play Area

The children’s play area is situated opposite site the Teashop.

Museum Of Rural Life

The Museum of Rural Life is situated in a 18th Century granary building and displays an impressive collection of ancient tools and implements. The museum also showcases the following:

  • Horse brasses, turrets, swingers, horse bells, shoes and bits
  • Old veterinary implements and relics from household kitchens
  • A unique collection of brass stamps
  • Traps and alarm guns
  • 70 different brass beer barrel bushes and unusual decorative skewers from the meat trade
  • Mediaeval pottery found on the Waterperry Estate.


The Action Gallery is located in a 18th century barn and offers affordable, contemporary art and craft. The gallery especially focuses on showcasing British work, including more than 25 Oxfordshire-based artists.

The Gallery is open every day:

Easter – October 10:00am – 5.30pm

November – Easter 10:00am – 5.00pm


The Teashop at Waterperry Gardens offers a relaxed and leisurely environment, a perfect place to enjoy one of the delightful pastries made with locally sourced ingredients. The Teashop also serves lunch as well as a variety of afternoon teas.


  • Plant & Garden Centre stocks a variety of Waterperry grown plants and trees. They additionally sell pots, water features and garden furniture.
  • The Garden shop sells plants from their own nursery as well as other gardening supplies and gifts.
  • Gift Barn: Here you can find an assortment of home and garden accessories. The Gift Barn also offers lotions and potions, home fragrances, candles, fashion accessories, jewellery as well as stationery products, gift wraps and cards.
  • The Gallery at Waterperry: Here you will find beautiful artworks, textiles, ceramics, glassware and crafts from selected British artists.

Opening details

Open 10am – 5.30pm (5pm in winter) daily

Waterperry Gardens are open all year round except between Christmas and New Year. Please check Waterperry Gardens website for full details.

The only charge at Waterperry is for access to the ornamental gardens. Admission charges go directly towards helping maintain and develop the gardens.

£8.50 per adult (£6.00 in November and December).

Children 16 years and under go free.

Waterperry Gardens, Nr Oxford

When: 14 June 2020: 10.00am – 4.00pm

Please note dogs are only allowed on a short lead around the estate and are NOT allowed within the Ornamental Gardens or Fair.

The 8-acre gardens at Waterperry date back to the 1930’s when the estate was home to Beatrix Havergal’s famous School of Horticulture for Women. Waterperry’s reputation for education and horticultural excellence continues to this day. The teaching gardens have now been transformed into ornamental gardens, including a rose garden, formal knot garden and a canal studded with waterlilies. One of the few original features is the 60m (200ft) herbaceous border. Just a stone’s throw from historic Oxford, Waterperry Gardens offer a sense of wellbeing, plants in beautiful settings, special garden spaces and gardening inspiration in a tranquil, rural setting.

‘A Year in the Life of the Herbaceous Border at Waterperry’, by Sheila Goggs. to see this lovely video of the main herbaceous border at Waterperry through the seasons.


The Walled Garden At Waterperry

The Gardens at Waterperry

Waterperry Gardens: 85 Years of Saxifrages


A special REDUCED price of £7.50 per adult includes the Gardens and Fair.

Children under 16 Free


Ample parking available.

Blue badge Parking near the garden entrance.

Buggy service available to transport your purchases back to the main entrance!


Comprehensive information on accessibility is available at Waterperry’s website at


Lunches and refreshments available at Waterperry’s Tea Shop.

Share | Address Waterperry Gardens,
Nr. Wheatley
Oxfordshire OX33 1JZ Telephone 01844 339254 Website

Tea Shop

Whether you’re dropping by or spending the day, looking for a quick cup of coffee and a scone or planning to relax over a leisurely lunch, no visit to Waterperry Gardens is complete without including the Tea Shop.

The team at the Tea Shop make everything by hand on the premises, using the best locally sourced ingredients we can find. From sumptuous patisserie to savoury tarts, farmhouse cakes to our famous fruit or cheese scones, warming winter lunches to summer salads, right down to our gluten-free chocolate brownies – we try to cater for everyone.

See the Waterperry Events Diary for information on special weekends. We do always have Gluten Free Bread available to accompany the soup. If you have any questions about special dietary requirements, we are always happy to help – though an advance warning is much appreciated for more unusual requests!

Our servery is open from 12pm daily

Afternoon Tea and Celebration Tea

Special occasion – why not book one of our afternoon teas? Can’t think what to buy for a special gift – why not treat your family or friends to one of our high tea or celebration tea vouchers.

Whatever the occasion we can offer an afternoon tea to suit your needs, from a simple cream tea with our homemade jam and scones with clotted cream, right up to a celebration tea with a selection of our homemade cakes, homemade jam and scones with clotted cream, a selection of sandwiches and quiche. Prices start from £6.30 a head.

To book please speak to a member of the Tea Shop team, ring 01844 338087 or email [email protected]

Please note we require one day’s notice to organise a high tea.

Katherine Kane had always imagined a greenhouse in a certain spot at her magnificent garden at Waterperry Farm in western Albemarle. And not just for sheltering plants.

“There are two kinds of greenhouses,” says architect Jeff Bushman, who customized the kit that Kane bought from the English company Alitex. “There are purely service buildings, and then there are those that are really part of the design, and contribute to making spaces.” The Waterperry greenhouse, of course, is one of the latter type.

English gardens are Kane’s primary inspiration for the 10 acres of specimen trees, walkways, flowering perennials and fountains that she’s painstakingly designed and installed since 1990. Her gardens include formal geometric “rooms” as well as meandering paths under shade trees, and they’re carefully laid out to align with axes that begin at her farmhouse. The greenhouse is an element meant to extend and complete a section of that overarching design—much more than a workspace that could just as easily be tucked out of sight. “In English gardens, they always make the greenhouse part of the garden,” says Kane.

This one certainly earns its spot in Waterperry’s lovingly tended beds. The kit, says Kane, is like a “giant Erector Set,” with aluminum framing elements that can be combined in any number of ways. “You can build anything you want,” says Bushman.

The greenhouse’s dimensions and siting were two interconnected questions; Kane had a spot in mind that was already constrained in several ways. “We wanted to work with the natural grade,” she says. The greenhouse also needed to center on a major cross-axis through the gardens, culminating in an archway covered with clematis and roses. And it needed to fit between two existing trees. Bushman shifted the greenhouse footprint around within these limitations until he and Kane were satisfied.

Though other similar greenhouses Kane had seen were fairly low to the ground, Bushman designed this one to be taller, with a 14 1/2-foot center ridgeline decorated with fleur de lis ornaments. “It’s the perfect scale for that garden,” says Kane, who’d previously planted upright columnar boxwoods in a nearby section, in themselves now 13 feet tall. “The greenhouse needed to have its own presence,” she says.

A bluestone patio provides a transition to the greenhouse’s stone foundation, as well as space for a bit of seating and some pots of flowers. Inside, one steps onto a floor of Old Carolina brick, laid in a herringbone pattern. “I loved mixing brick and bluestone,” says Kane. “I wanted it to look old.”

Under that floor hides a radiant heat system, and the greenhouse is also furnished with radiators to nurture young seedlings. This winter, Kane started about 180 annuals in the greenhouse and grew salad greens, too. Three workbenches, also sourced from Alitex, are filled with Hydroleca clay pellets for optimum drainage.

The greenhouse was installed in winter 2017 and already looks like a fully integrated part of the Waterperry vision. Behind it, ever on the lookout for a new place to add a bed, Kane is growing river birch, Japanese iris, sedum and lavender.


We are really looking forward to inviting you on site at Waterperry for the 2020 Oxford Storytelling Festival. This is the technical boring bit, but I hope that with sharing this info with you will make your time at the festival more relaxing and fun.

General Info

Arriving on site: The site will open at 3pm on Friday until 2pm on Monday. Access to festival site is 5pm. The Festival entertainment will finish on Sunday night, but if you have a weekend ticket, you are welcome to stay until Monday.

Parking: Parking is £10. Please only park in the designated area. We are keeping the camping field car-free to create a child-friendly zone.

Wristbands: Please wear your wristband at all times. Your wristband will give you access to Waterperry Gardens between 10 and 5.30 each day. All children under 12 require their responsible adults phone number written on their wristbands.

Recycling: There will be black bins around the site. Green for food scraps. Please use these for all refuse. We are using Bucks Recycling Ltd who will recycle as much waste as possible.

Food: We have a lovely selection of food on site. You can also find sandwiches and hot food at the Waterperry Gardens Cafe. If you show your wristband, you will receive 20% discount.

Drink: Our Lindworm bar will serve Local Beer, Prosecco, Wine, Pimms and Soft Drinks to over 18’s only. Under 25’s will be carded. No alcohol is to be brought onto the festival site.

Toilets: We have compost toilets near the entrance to the festival, Toilets at the end of the Waterperry Gardens Cafe and two toilets in the Artists Hall. Extra toilets can be found in the Waterperry Gardens Car Park. Please take care to leave the toilets as you would like to find them. It is important with compost toilets to be aware to keep the solid and liquid nutrients separate.

Lost Property: Please hand into the Festival Office (front left room in the house).

First Aid: If you need First Aid please alert a steward or come to the Festival Office (front left room in the house) In an emergency, please call 999.

Waterperry Gardens: Access to Waterperry Gardens is available between 10 and 5.30 each day. Children should be accompanied. Just show your wristband. Usual Adult price is £7.95/day.

20% discount extends to the Waterperry Gardens Cafe, Garden Centre and Gift Shop – just show your wristband (excluding already discounted items).

There is NO ACCESS to the gardens before they open at 10am and after the gardens close at 5.30pm.

All children must be supervised by an adult at all times.

No Dogs on site – Except Guide dogs.

No Glass on Festival site or camp site.

No Alcohol to be brought onto site.

Accessible parking can be found near the Box Office. Don’t forget your festival clothes, the more imaginative the better!!!


Our camping field is beautiful and flat. We hope you enjoy the flatness 🙂

The large square field in front of the parking area is available for camping. Please do not camp amongst the Apple Trees.

We need to keep an emergency access through the campsite, so please do not camp in the marked out ‘lanes’.

Having had a really hot summer for the last couple of years, it is really important that there are NO FIRES/BAR-B-Q’s anywhere on the estate. Camping stoves are allowed if placed off the ground on a stable surface.

There are two water sources in the camping field, compost toilets, showers, a sink and a fire extinguisher/blankets.

There will be no access to the festival area between midnight and 7am. The Lindworm and the coffee bar will open up for breakfast at 7.30am each day.

You leave valuables in your tent at your own risk. Please only bring valuables if you are willing to carry them around. Oxford Storytelling Festival cannot take responsibility for anything lost or stolen.

Enjoy your stay and we hope you are transported by the magic of Storytelling…

A major problem with the garden centre is the pricing, most plants are definitely above the average prices for this area and there is no noticeable quality gain.

There is a tearoom in the gardens and the vast majority of the food is prepared in the kitchens. The indoor cafe seating area is basic and not one of the good points, The outdoor seating area, for warm days, is far more pleasant.

Although the tearoom has only basic decor, the menu has pretensions to be much more upmarket, the prices are certainly higher than the average garden centre cafe. Food quality is OK and the menu has some interesting and slightly unusual items on it.

As well as the garden centre and cafe, there is of course the Waterperry Gardens themselves. These cost £6.30 for entrance (£4.30 in winter) and that’s slightly above average for what is on offer. The gardens are well laid out and very well kept, herbaceous plants are most definitely the speciality in these gardens.

The shop is for those looking for slightly unusual, and it has to be said, expensive gifts. Other attractions advertised are an arboretum but this is most definitely in its infancy and has little to offer the average gardener. The church, next to the main house, is well worth a visit though.

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