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Cotswolds The Royal Gardens at Highgrove

HRH (His Royal Highness) The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) is also the Duke of Cornwall and owns the Duchy of Cornwall, a private estate of over 54,000 hectares spread across 23 counties, mostly in the southwest of England. This estate was created in 1337 by Edward III and is passed on to the eldest son of the current Queen/King. The income from this estate funds Prince Charles's public and charitable work.

In 1980 Prince Charles purchased Highgrove House, near Tetbury in the southern Cotswolds, to be his family home. It is now the home of TRH (Their Royal Highnesses) Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles and Camilla). He purchased surrounding farmland and created the Duchy Home Farm, which in 1986 he converted to be an organic farm.

Tour the Royal Garden

It is not easy, but you can tour the Highgrove Gardens. Join an organized group doing a tour or purchase tickets by phone. Tours are run when the Duke and Duchess are not in residence. No photos are allowed on the tour.

The tours are given by enthusiastic volunteers and last about two hours. The group of around 25 people start by viewing a video welcome from Prince Charles, then make their way through the open meadows, woodlands and gardens that surround Highgrove House. After the tour you can have tea in the Orchard Room, where the tour started. There is also a shop there, similar to the Highgrove shop in Tetbury.

During the tour you see most of the gardens and even go into gardens beside the residence. These gardens would be interesting at any time of year. The wildflower meadows are cut in mid-July, around Saint Swithun's day.

Location: England - Gloucestershire - Doughton
Highgrove House is in the village of Doughton, a few miles south of Tetbury, on the A433 road to Bath. From the road you see the large iron gates leading to the house and the tall stone garden walls along the road. Westonbirt Arboretum is a bit further down the road.
For touring the gardens, there is parking onsite.

Google Map

Duchy Originals
Duchy Originals are food products made by the Duchy Home farm and sold through the Waitrose supermarket. In the Cotswolds you will find Waitrose in Stroud, Cirencester, Cheltenham and Witney. Their products include jams, cookies, drinks, desserts, hair and body products - most with organic ingredients.

Highgrove Shop
Highgrove Shop Tetbury - 10 Long Street. You can shop online.
The Highgrove shop in Tetbury sells lovely things for the home and garden - ceramics made in Stoke-on-Trent, wooden toys, handcrafted garden tools, organic food products, etc. Expensive, but the shops are worth visiting.

My Visit to the Highgrove Gardens in Summer 2013

We phoned for tickets as soon as they went on sale early in the year but the first tour date available was in August. We did the garden tour and it was well worth the wait. These gardens are exceptional. I toured them again a few years later.

Passports and tickets were presented to the guard at the gate before the car park. Cameras and cell phones (mobiles) had to be left in the car.

It was overcast and grey when we arrived for the 1:25pm tour. We were in a group of about 25 people. The tour lasted two hours. We started by watching a short video of Charles welcoming us to his garden. Then we set out. The tours are run by enthusiastic volunteers. There was no formal garden when Prince Charles bought Highgrove almost 30 years ago; he personally designed these gardens. He has a team of gardeners but also works in the garden himself. No chemicals are used – everything is done with organic methods.

I am no garden expert, but we have visited several in England, and Highgrove Gardens is the best I have seen. Everything is beautiful, but it is not overdone. It looks and feels cared for but it is also casual. This is a garden where you want to put down a blanket and spend the afternoon.

The open meadows had recently been cut. If we had been there earlier we would have walked on paths through high grass and wildflowers. They mow the meadows in mid-July, around Saint Swithun’s day. In the spring these meadows are full of blooming bulbs.

There are areas with trees, open meadows, walled gardens, beautiful small buildings tucked into corners, ponds surrounded by ferns, a kitchen garden – it is like walking into different rooms in a house, but better because you are outside and the flooring is grass, moss and dirt.

One part of the garden has over 700 stumps used as wind breaks and walls. Charles got them from an estate that had many trees knocked over in the great storm of 1987. Plants grow in the stumps. It made the garden seem wild and interesting.

The kitchen garden has espalier fruit trees growing along the walls and over iron forms making walkways in the garden. You walk into the covered path and large apples are hanging down from the top. I have never seen trees this large bent to grow along a form.

We got to walk through the gardens beside the residence see the views that they have from their windows. The tours are held when no one is in residence, so you do not feel like you are invading someone’s privacy. The tour guide tells you about the plantings, the history of the garden and some personal stories about why things were planted. They also give you time to wander around some sections on your own.

The sun did not come out during our tour and it even poured rain for a few minutes, but nothing took away from the beauty of this place. At the end of the tour we had tea in the Orchard Room and even the tea was excellent. We lined up and ordered “tea for two” and picked out cake, then carried our trays into a big beautiful room full of tables where everything matched.

They have a Highgrove shop with things for the home and garden – expensive, but beautiful things. I purchased two kitchen towels (made in France) and two egg cups – reminders of a perfect garden tour.

Prince Charles wrote two books about Highgrove - "Highgrove: Portrait of an Estate" (2002) and "The Garden at Highgrove" (2001).
Author: Pauline Kenny, August 2010, updated April 2015 and March 2021


Highgrove website.

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