Kiftsgate Court sits at the edge of the Cotswold escarpment, with striking views through the foliage over the Vale of Evesham. In this regard, it has an advantage over its neighbor, Hidcote. But Hidcote, owned by the National Trust, has an army of gardeners and volunteers to care for it. On my first visit to both in the fall of 2000, I hadn’t noticed a contrast, but this time I did. Kiftsgate was a bit rough around the edges, the regal porch needing just the right angle for a picture, to hide the shabby furniture used by the family. It reminded me of childhood summers spent with cousins who I loved visiting, but couldn’t help noticing things slipping a bit.
Kiftsgate Court was built between 1887 and 1891, a Victorian building begun by moving a Georgian façade from the neighboring town of Mickleton. After several owners, the building has had various configurations, with a ballroom made into bedrooms, 16 rooms demolished to accommodate a parking lot for coach tours, the interior modernized for a new generation of family and a visitor tearoom added for good measure.
The site is extraordinary and the garden has much to recommend it, taking full advantage of the steep changes in elevation. Over the years it’s been honored with awards and praise from experts and the famous. It’s place in garden history will be assured by Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’, the climbing Kiftsgate Rose, planted in 1938 and said to be the largest rose in England, having now swallowed several trees whole.
A Kiftsgate Garden Gallery
The thought of tea was tempting but I opted to return, instead, to Hidcote for lunch and a few more pictures, then took the path back across the fields to my beautiful room in a 17th century farmhouse in the village of Hidcote Boyce. Could life be better than that?
Kiftsgate Court is privately owned. Open times
and days vary by month, April through September:
See an Ordnance Survey map of the neighborhood here, with the locations
of both gardens indicted and the path marked as a green broken line
between the villages of Hidcote Boyce and Hidcote Bartrim.
Next week, a walk around my home village for the week, Hidcote Boyce.
Find all episodes of ‘PortMoresby in England’ here.