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The Hermitage

A peaceful place

Only a train stop away or a leisurely 10 minute walk from reception the Hermitage garden provides the perfect place to relax and reflect. The building itself represents the finest example of rural craftsmanship built in 1839.

It is constructed almost entirely with timber with the external walls clad with thousands of ‘fish-scale’ wooden shingles. The interior floor consists entirely of deer bones, pushed into the earth with their ‘knuckle’ ends uppermost. Fragments of stained glass were used for the windows from the ruins of the old church. Inside, the walls are lined with wickerwork and graced with a granite fireplace and chimney shaft made of oak.

Hermitages had featured in grand gardens long before the one at Bicton was built. Early examples were often built of tree roots and gnarled branches, roofed with moss. They were intended mainly for the amusement of visitors. Some landowners hired people to live in the hermitages. These professional hermits were solitary, unkempt, and always ready to crouch over a book by lantern-light whenever a group of giggling guests passed by.

A valuable addition to the Hermitage Garden was made in 1976 when more than 50 dwarf conifers, including a number of rarities, were donated to Bicton by specialist grower Humphrey Welch from his nursery  in Wiltshire. This collection included many forms, from slender spires and neat pyramids to bulbous mounds and ground-covering carpets. There are some outstanding small or slow-growing varieties of false cypress (Chamaecyparis), Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria), juniper (juniperus), the arbor-vitae group (Thuja), spruce (Picea), pine (Pinus), fir (Abies), yew (Taxus) and cow’s-tail pine (Cephalotaxus).

A large rockery, waterfalls, streams and grass all complement this gardens and also provide the perfect playground for little ones to enjoy connecting with nature on warm summers days. Please ensure children are supervised at all time when playing, particularly near water.

An acer glade planted in 2019 overlooking the Japanese Pagoda and Great lake provides colour all year round. The Japanese inspired Pagoda provides the perfect look out over the Great Lake to see large carp, small ducklings or graceful swans and signets.

Hermitage gallery

The Gardens Await

ABBA and Fleetwood Mac

Thursday – August 1st

Bohemians + K2

Thursday – August 15th

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