Castle Ashby in Northampton has been on my wishlist for a visit for a long time now, after seeing such beautiful images of it’s orangery on so many people’s instagram accounts. It’s a fair jaunt for us to get to, so we saved it for the two weeks my husband had taken as paternity leave, and all four of us headed off on a little adventure to Northamptonshire!
As we parked up in the car park, I spied a pretty amazing looking kids playground, complete with it’s own wooden ‘Castle Ashby’. And this playground set the tone for our visit – Castle Ashby is one of the most child friendly gardens I’ve visited. The whole vibe was really family friendly and there were so many families having a wonderful time.
The Orangery and the Italian Gardens
The highlight of the visit for me has to be the stunning orangery. I have a thing about greenhouses and orangeries, and this is one of the most beautiful examples I’ve seen. It was designed by architect Matthew Digby Wyatt and dates back to 1872. Its perfect lily pond in the entrance separates two exotic areas, filled with rainforest style plants climbing right up to its handsome arched ceiling.
Sadly Max wasn’t as taken as I was with the orangery, and I had to just quickly snap these before we were heading out again!
Through the formal gardens and it’s impressive archway, you explore a series of garden rooms – perfect for a game of hide and seek. Max and his Daddy managed to genuinely lose me – we had to resort to mobile phones to meet up again!
Monkeys and meerkats and pigs… oh my!
One unique feature of Castle Ashby, and one that works so well for families, is the menagerie. Through the walled garden, you’ll find pigs, giant rabbits, goats, parrakeets, chipmunks, monkeys, and a little colony of meerkats! Max spent ages just staring at them – they were such a hit!
The Children’s Playground
And as I mentioned at the start, there is a fantastic children’s playground back at the entrance. It’s particularly well laid out, with tables and chairs set out all around it, so that you can keep an eye on your children playing while you enjoy a coffee or lunch. Max played in it while we had lunch, and then again before we left. We had to physically drag him away to leave!
We had such a beautiful day exploring Castle Ashby – I think this photo sums up our day!
Address: Castle Ashby, Northampton, NN7 1LQ
Entry: Adults £7, Children 5-16 £1, Under 5’s Free
Website: http://www.castleashbygardens.co.uk/find-us (for opening times)