2020 UPDATE – TAPELEY PARK & GARDENS – CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Located in the parish of Westleigh, Tapeley Park sits high on a hill overlooking the River Torridge and the North Devon coastline. Home to the Christie family for two centuries, Hector Christie is the current custodian of the estate.
The Tapeley Park grounds are renowned for their beautiful gardens, particularly the Italian terraces, and include a lake, ponds, old woodland and a number of fields where Hector’s herd of Highland cattle graze. As well as a sizeable organic vegetable garden, Tapeley Park has one of the oldest permaculture gardens in the UK.
Although the house at Tapeley Park has existed in various forms dating back to the time of the Domesday Book, it was the arrival of Lady Rosamund in the 1880s that led to the ‘neo-classicising’ of the property, which gave the main house its distinctive look.
The visionary spirit of Lady Rosamund has been continued by her great grandson, Hector, who has been a champion of chemical free food production for many years and long before it became an established feature on grocery shop shelves.
Sustainability is a key theme on the Tapeley Park estate too. Over the years, Hector has given a home to ideas, people and projects that explore the sustainability theme and, alongside the permaculture garden, other projects that can be viewed at Tapeley Park include the straw bale house. The estate is also pesticide free,
Tapeley Park is a place where the present sits in harmony with the past, and the history room gives the visitor an informative and thorough summary of the estate’s evolution over the years. Meanwhile the grounds, with their Victorian-era lake (which underwent a major renovation in 2015) ‘old’ gardens and mature trees, project a sense of majesty that only time can bring.
To visit the Tapeley Park Gardens sustainability website, please follow this link.
Events / Weddings
The dramatic background of the house and sweeping views of the North Devon coastline is matched only by the scenic tranquility of the Tapeley Park gardens when it comes to creating the perfect backdrop for the perfect wedding day.
Tapeley Park is a great venue for events and is regularly used by companies and organizations looking for somewhere a little different to inspire and impress their guests. Tapeley runs numerous events during the summer season, including outdoor theatre, charity days, dog shows and schools and family activities. Latest information about upcoming events can be found on the Facebook page.
Home to the Christie family, Tapeley Park estate in North Devon caters for private events of all sizes. From marquees sited on the front lawn to the Great Barn, there are indoor and outdoor venue options suitable for all occasions.
Tapeley Park has long had a reputation for being one of the best wedding venues in North Devon and even more so since going into partnership with experienced party planners, Top Notch Event Catering. The combination is a wedding reception or event that will be remembered long after the popping of champagne corks.
As well as bringing a sense of the exotic to every wedding photo, Tapeley’s Italian Terrace gardens are a beautiful space for guests to socialise and reflect between the excitement of the matrimonial service and the revelry of the reception. The rambling grounds of the estate and children’s play area provide a perfect distraction for younger guest list members too.
Top Notch Event Catering is part of the Brend Group, which has been providing first class catering and hospitality in the North Devon region for over 40 years. They offer a service that comes with a reputation for covering all aspects of party planning and event catering.
From passionate chefs providing food with flair, to well trained front of house staff, Top Notch weddings and parties are planned to the finest detail and carried out with the highest level of professionalism.
More information about weddings at Tapeley Park is available here.
Over 20 years old, the permaculture garden at Tapeley is one of the oldest in the country. It was established by Hector who was inspired by the work of the horticulturist, Robert Hart.
The word ‘permaculture’ is a combination of ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’. It is used to describe a way of growing which mimics natural ecosystems, where plants stay in the ground rather than being replaced every year. It is more like a forest, with different types of plants forming interrelated groups across the garden, rather than a field with only one crop in it.
As well as producing food permaculture is also concerned with living in closer harmony with nature, minimising use of environmental resources, only taking what we need from the planet, and bringing people closer to the natural world and real food.
Main characteristics of the Tapeley permaculture garden: It’s a ‘perennial’ garden – most of the plants have been in the garden for several years and we harvest food from them for most of the year. The garden is planted in layers – like a forest the garden is universally productive, from the tree canopies through shrubs and bushes, right down to the plants on the ground itself.
The permaculture garden is good for us and wildlife – everything in the garden is edible, medicinal or beneficial for wildlife – and often all three. It is naturally balanced – because the garden forms a healthy ecosystem in itself there is no need to use chemicals and pesticides. More information available here.
Sustainability is at the core of the Tapeley Park estate and ethos. Hector Christie has been a passionate campaigner for this cause for over 20 years, and in that time sustainability has shifted from being a fringe concern to having a place in society’s mainstream.
Thanks to the internet people around the world are far more aware of the detrimental effects of pollution caused by non-renewable energy, the devastation of environments and the negative effects on the health of societies created by mass produced food.
Hector was an early advocate of the benefits of organic farming and has been pioneering experiments in sustainability since the 1990s. Amidst the sculpted gardens, lakes and old woodlands of Tapeley Park he established sustainability projects which are well regarded around the world.
These include the permaculture garden, which is now 20 years old, and one of the oldest of its kind in England. All the vegetables at Tapeley are grown organically and this principle extends to the management of the Highland cattle herd grazed on this part of the estate. Tapeley Park is also the site of a straw bale house, which was constructed in the early Noughties.
The search for sustainable solutions manifests in collaborating with experts in the various fields that contribute to the sustainability movement and the growing of ideas, using Tapeley as a forum for their expression – both in theory and in practice.
Key areas of focus at Tapeley include information, education, food, energy, housing and eco business enterprises. More information on sustainability can be found here.
The Tapeley gift shop is where visitors buy tickets upon arrival. In addition to daily admission fees (£6 adults/£5 senior citizens/£4 children). A family ticket (2 adults, 2 children is £15) and the Friends of Tapeley scheme allows unlimited entry all season for just £20.
The gift shop offers a range of maps, postcards and guide books for the gardens. It houses a fantastic selection of postcards and gifts, some quite unique – from Quail china animals and mugs to beautiful tins of Churchills biscuits, small Otterdene gift items for children and Fikkerts soaps and essential oils and creams.
In keeping with the Tapeley Park ethos of supporting the local community, the gift shop also sells a selection of gifts, locally made jams and chutneys and free range eggs.
The gift shop is also the first port of call for those wishing to arrange a tour of the house. Tours are subject to Hector’s availability and must be pre-booked at least two weeks in advance.
Tapeley Park is located between Bideford and Barnstaple, near the village of Instow. Visitors can follow brown tourist signs from the A39 onto the B3233 (and should be wary of following Sat Nav directions). Although in the parish of Westleigh, the Tapeley turning is just beyond the road to the village, a right turn to Tapeley Park (coming from Bideford direction). There is a local bus stop near to the bottom of the drive and the estate can also be accessed via the Tarka Trail cycle path.
(or contact the Estate office)