St Paul's Walden Bury
This charming small stately home was the childhood home of Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, later to become Queen Elizabeth. She was the 9th of 10 children, and her brother's descendants now live here. A tour of the house will show visitors the beautiful 18th century hall and drawing rooms, used for concerts and weddings. Mainly Victorian additions include the dining room, billiard room and sitting room. The house was built by Edward Gilbert, whose remarkable grand daughter Mary Eleanor Bowes married John Lyon, Earl of Strathmore, hence the name Bowes Lyon.
The spectacular landscape garden, covering over 50 acres, is based on a classical formal design: long avenues of clipped beech hedges stretch out into the Hertfordshire countryside. It was laid out about 1720 when the house was built, and the original patte d'oie (goose foot) architecture has been retained. The hedges last for about 200 years. One of the features of the garden is the design for surprises: temples and statues appear unexpectedly as vistas open up. Each time you visit expect to find something new.
There is also a woodland garden full of interesting plants, including rhododendrons and magnolias that have grown up over the last 80 years. Carpets of snowdrops and bluebells cover the glades. Away from the shade of the trees are banks of daffodils followed by drifts of cowslips and other wild flowers in season.