Area & Heritage: Houses & Gardens
Castle Hill was built in 1730 as the Earl Fortescue’s family home in North Devon. The Palladian House, in which his descendants, the Earl and Countess of Arran are living, is set in a spectacular 18th century parkland landscape with grass terraces and statues leading down to the river and lakes.
To the east side of the house is the Millennium Garden, designed by Xa Tollemache, the Chelsea Gold medallist. The large herbaceous borders are edged with box and lavender and an illuminated “topiary” water sculpture was designed and built by Giles Rayner in 2002. From there the path takes you to the formal terraced lawns in front of the house where the eye is drawn across a small country road by a tree-lined avenue towards the Triumphal Arch built as an eye catcher.
Following the path to the west of the house, the woodland gardens are reached where camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, eucryphias abound together with other beautiful shrubs. Rare trees grow by the river and amongst a network of woodland paths in the Easter Close. Many of the paths, some gentle, some steep, are punctuated with follies, and temples built by each generation of the Fortescue family. The final climb takes you to the Castle perched splendidly on the high hill behind the house with magnificent views of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Lundy Island.