To Visit Richmond’s Gardens – Start in England

Posted on Dec 5, 2016 in Travel Blog

We love our home city of Richmond and one of the reasons is its abundance of gorgeous public gardens. Folks started planting ornamental gardens as soon as Richmond was founded (1742) and – oh, my – how gardening has grown in our beautiful town. There’s plenty of gardens to be seen but to tie it all to its beginning start at Agecroft Hall.

AgeCroft Hall and Gardens

AgeCroft Hall and Gardens

Imagine visiting an authentic 500-year-old English manor house without traveling across the Atlantic. How? Come to Agecroft Hall. This isn’t a reproduction – it’s the real thing. Here’s the story.

The home traces its roots to the English county of Lancashire, on an estate not far from the city of Manchester. The house was initially much smaller but over centuries was gradually enlarged according to the needs of the inhabitants and by the late 1500s contained more than 20 rooms.

In 1925 the house was purchased by Thomas Williams, a wealthy Richmond entrepreneur. It was dismantled piece by piece, placed in crates and shipped across the Atlantic to Richmond where it was reassembled on 23 acres along the banks of the James River. In his will Williams left his estate to the city and Agecroft opened to the public in 1969.

agecroft_great-hall

AgeCroft’s Great Hall

To enter the doors of Agecroft today is to enter the world of the landed gentry of Tudor England. The Great Hall almost resonates with the sounds of social gatherings hundreds of years ago. Its leaded glass windows, 100% intact and undamaged in the trip across the Atlantic, radiate the interior with light. Passageways lead to the dining parlor, sleeping chambers, nooks and crannies. Museum rooms are furnished with authentic 16th Century English and Continental pieces. Other rooms contain more modern touches including 20th Century American.

Agecroft is anything but a moldy old hall. Its tours and educational programs are lively and vibrant and designed to engage the visitor in conversation. Heart of Virginia’s special tours include exclusive access to the museum collections where you may put on white gloves and actually handle some of the treasures from England.

The grounds were designed by noted landscape architect Charles Gillette. A stroll through his sunken garden is magical and the wooded area near the river gives little evidence that you are within the corporate limits of a thriving city. The grounds are also home to annual performances of Shakespeare’s famous plays.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

From the lush grounds of Agecroft venture out to more garden experiences, from large and lovely to quaint and cute, along the Richmond Garden Trail.

Voted #4 among the Best Botanical Gardens in America by USA TODAY, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is a virtual paradise. Enticing pathways wind through more than 50 acres, leading to delights such as the Rose Garden, Asian Valley and Cherry Tree Walk. The massive domed conservatory is the only of its kind in the mid-Atlantic.

Maymont was the turn-of-the-century estate of the Dooley family. Its pastoral 100 acres brings together plants, animals, water and meandering paths. Look for the grotto hidden in its hillside Japanese Garden. The Clairborne-Robbins

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is accented by works by Dale Chihuly and other top artists. Virginia’s Capitol Square has been a downtown oasis since before the Civil War. Ancient trees and a rolling lawn with fountains are joined by inspiring monuments and statues. The plantings at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum’s Enchanted Garden are inspired by Poe’s classic poem To One in Paradise.

Richmond’s gardens are open throughout the year and are excellent hosts for groups. Your clients can enjoy them as part of our Gardens and Ghosts tour. Contact us for details.