Mottisfont Abbey started life as an Augustinian priory dating back to 1201. From this, it was transformed by Lord Sandys into a large house; this family also owned The Vyne, also in Hampshire, and divided their time between the two properties.
The house you see today was created in Georgian times and lived in until 1957, when it was given to the National Trust. Its final resident, Maud Russell, had adapted the house from disrepair into a comfortable neo-classical home which was the centre of their fashionable social circle and made huge efforts to preserve it.
The house is open for visiting and is a great National Trust trip. However, for us it’s Mottisfont’s gardens which are the real highlight. Dressing up to visit them isn’t compulsory, though [but tempting], like these ladies and gentleman we spotted on our last visit!
Mottisfont is home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old-fashioned roses. The gardens were designed by Graham Stuart-Thomas, who is one of the most important figures in 20th century British horticulture, and feature over 500 varieties of old-fashioned rose. These roses only flower once a year, so we recommend to visit in June to catch them at their best.
What we really love about these gardens is that the borders are designed so beautifully to showcase an artistic combination of flowers and plants, not just the roses, creating a stunning landscape.
This guy was having a great day exploring the different flowers!
June also gives you the best chance of a sunny day, which shows the endless blooms off to their best possible advantage.
The scale of the walled gardens is impressive, whether you’re a gardening aficionado or not.
The pathways, many lined with lavender bushes and with roses overhead, are completely immersive, and they lead to focal points like this iconic bench, which is instantly recognisable.
Lawns and benches means it rarely feels too crowded, and you can take your time to make your way through the gardens.
I actually used to have birthday parties here as a little girl, when my family would bring a picnic down to the bank of the River Test which runs past the edge of the lawns. With a birthday at the end of June, it also gave us the chance to see the roses in full bloom. This gives me a special fondness for this property, but there isn’t another garden as stunning anywhere else I’ve seen, so we would highly recommend a trip to Mottisfont – just make sure to aim for June if you can to see it at its best!