The Great Outdoors
July 25, 2016
It FINALLY looks like Summer might have arrived so it’s time to get out and explore the Estate.
Our outdoor heated pool is tucked away at the side of the house offering seclusion and the perfect place to get away from it all. Towels are provided and there are plenty of loungers and seating to accommodate those who want to relax and those who want a little gentle exercise. The pool has been a feature at Great Fosters for almost a hundred years and the wooden changing rooms are actually 1920s bathing huts! Needless to say they have been modernised inside since then but the exterior is all original...which explains their rather “quirky” appearance. The pool is open to hotel residents and members of our Dining Club who, along with all their other benefits, receive three passes for up to four guests to use during the season.
Diane is busy in the glasshouse cultivating a variety of salads and vegetables for use in the hotel’s two restaurants, The Estate Grill and The Tudor Room - celeriac, tomatoes, borlotti beans, courgettes, dwarf beans, carrots, beetroot, kohlrabi, artichokes to name just a few!
Then there’s the Kitchen Garden, by the Cloister bedrooms, which supplies the chefs with fresh herbs on demand including garlic chives, lemon balm, purple basil and betony. The garden is divided up with formal clipped bay and lemon trees.
The lake is a relatively new addition to the estate and was created in 2001. During the digging out archaeologists were called to examine some cooking pots and animal bones which proved to be the remains of a late Neolithic settlement who had clearly been feasting on wild boar. It now provides an established habitat for nesting dabchicks (little grebes), moor hens and tufted ducks, herons and snipe in addition to the daubenton bat, dragonflies and damselflies which provide biological control for our grounds.
And now to the more formal gardens! Originally designed by WH Romaine Walker and Gilbert Jenkins, the design is based around the intricate details of a Persian rug and the gardens are among the finest Arts and Crafts Gardens in Europe with manicured hedges and topiary bordering the beds of flowers and herbs. The sundial in the centre of the formal gardens is thought by historians to have been donated by Sir Francis Drake and is believed to date back to 1585. The Japanese bridge over the Saxon moat leads to the arched circular rose garden with a sunken circular lily pond. A spectacular amphitheatre completes the garden at the end of an avenue of lime trees.
A new phase of woodland management is currently underway with the ultimate aim of the hotel becoming self sufficient in logs in addition to weeding out any non-native trees. Our pigs continue to thrive and provide home bred pork and bacon for use in the restaurants whilst our 11 hives of bees produce honey for breakfast and to sell at Reception.