The grounds of Kyre Park were laid out in the second half of the 18th century for the Pytts family. A roughly horseshoe string of ponds was created, with ornamental cascades and bridges, and this landscape formed the backdrop to pageants and garden parties in the Edwardian era. In 1930 the estate was sold, and a series of institutional tenants then occupied the house. In the 1980s the depressing phrases ‘semi-ruinous’ and ‘partially collapsed’ were used to describe a Hermit’s Cave and a tunnel. But by the end of the century Kyre Park had found its saviours…
Jon Sellers and Martin Rickard bought the house and grounds in the 1990s, and began a programme of restoration to clear the undergrowth and revitalise the choked lakes. Architect Vernon Gibberd, working with stonemason Derek Bruce, was commissioned to restore an existing tunnel (entrance below the Green Man in the main image), and to add an extension leading to a lookout tower, above.
The Hermit’s Cave, a feature of the garden since at the least the middle of the 19th century, was restored and re-thatched, below.
Kyre Park is a million miles from being a polished tourist attraction. Visit, and you will very likely have the place to yourself. There’s no website, little signage and no interpretation other then a simple map. Follow the path from the parking area and you will find an honesty box and a gate. Oh, and to add to the delights, there’s self-service coffee and biscuits for a small cost in a room by the church.
Sellers and Rickard have, The Folly Flâneuse understands, moved on. But the current owners must be congratulated for a delightfully low-key opening of this lovely landscape.