The Savill Garden and Windsor Great Park
Readers of GTO Magazine were invited to experience The Savill Garden and The Crown Estate’s new Heritage Tour of Windsor Great Park. Fiona Horan bagged a seat.
Our day started with a coach tour of Windsor Great Park with Nicholas Day, Head of Visitor Operations at The Crown Estate, as our guide. The Royal Heritage Tour is a new opportunity for groups to take their own coach on a tour of Windsor Great Park, escorted by a guide from The Crown Estate. Nicholas lives in Windsor Great Park with his family, and our tour even took us past his house!
Our journey began along Wick Lane, behind whose hedges and gates lie the fabulous houses of the truly wealthy – tantalising glimpses of which could be seen from our elevated position in the coach. One house, Parkside, was rented briefly by Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller in the 50s.
Entering Windsor Great Park, we passed many sites of interest, including the manicured lawns of Guards Polo Club (where polo can be seen for free during the season), the Prince Consort statue, the Copper Horse statue of George III at the Long Walk, and the Jubilee Statue – a delightful statue of Her Majesty The Queen on horseback looking down towards Windsor Castle. Other highlights included the Deer Park and several of the 190 properties within the park, including The Royal School, which was built by Queen Victoria for the children of the estate staff, and is still in use. We had a proper sense of this village-like community scattered amongst the ancient trees. There are fantastic vistas down to Windsor and across London in parts of the park, whilst elsewhere the atmosphere is of deep English countryside.
We had lunch in the Savill Building, a stunning visitor’s centre that was completed in 2006, which incorporates dining areas, a shop and toilet facilities. This was followed by a tour of The Savill Garden by John Anderson, Keeper of the Gardens.
The Savill Garden was originally conceived as a woodland garden and plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, ferns and bulbs are prominent in the spring. Visiting in September, we enjoyed deep borders of cosmos, rudbeckia, sunflowers, echinacea and dahlias. There is also a rose garden, alpine beds, a dry garden, temperate glasshouse, and many distinctive trees and beautiful combinations of foliage.
We ended our afternoon with a cream tea, and the consensus around the table was that we had a fantastic time and had been treated like royalty.
I’d like to thank Nicholas Day, Mark Persad, Helen Buckham – Groups Co-ordinator, John Anderson and the rest of the team from The Crown Estate who looked after us so well for the entire day. Their enthusiasm and love for this special place really shines through.
“We got a real feeling of the passion the Crown Estate team have for these exceptional places, and the food was very good too! I will definitely be putting this forward as a ‘must do’ in our list of visits for next year.”
Chris, FPP, Herts
“Nicholas Day, our wonderful guide on our coach journey around Windsor Park, was so informative and entertaining. He was a joy to listen to and I would highly recommend this trip to all of our friends and social group.”
Caroline Parma, PALS, Surrey
For further information:
GTO’s are offered two free tickets to do their own familiarisation trip. Contact Helen Buckham – Groups Co-ordinator on 0845 603 6228 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit