The Park & Gardens
Beautiful gardens and acres of mature parkland surround the House completing a picture of tranquil rural harmony.
Ancient yew hedges and herbaceous borders divide lush green lawns framed by ornamental trees. Visitors should not be surprised to find members of the family buried up to their armpits weeding, pruning, or digging and many a friend has been pressed into service in the woods where an ongoing programme of felling, coppicing and re-planting aims to restore native species and reveal the sparkling waters of the much overgrown Saxon Pike Pond. Shrouded in ivy and overhung by great chestnut trees a Norman ice house overlooks the pond and its resident population of kingfishers, carp and watchful herons.
To the south of Dorney Court lies an English rose garden where Queen Elizabeth and Winchester Cathedral compete for space in beds which echo the contours of the House. The centerpiece of the rose garden is a contemporary fountain that takes the form of an Indian elephant enjoying a cooling shower. This sculpture, like many other features on the Estate and inside the House, hints at the strong connection between the Palmer Family and the sub-continent.
Facing the North Door, the Dell with its shrub fringed path is a riot of sun-dappled sylvan charm and, in the Spring, bluebells, daffodils and snowdrops make a seasonal appearance. A stroll through this part of the gardens is a calming experience allowing visitors to enter a secluded world with occasional glimpses of gables and sunset coloured brickwork. An avenue of gnarled apple trees marks the border between the gardens and the parkland and stands as the sole reminder that during the post-war period, the park was for many years a prize-winning commercial orchard. Now a flock of Cambridge sheep grazes beneath towering lime trees while the park is also a perfect setting for weddings and events.