Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher is a National Trust gem

PUBLISHED: 10:33 15 March 2012 | UPDATED: 18:24 20 February 2013

Claremont Landscape Garden

Claremont Landscape Garden

Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher offers a beguiling combination of serenity and history, with plenty to see and do all year round, courtesy of the National Trust. Emma Ward paid a visit to this enchanting oasis to find out more

Ladies of Surrey take note 2012 is a leap year, which means that if your fella has been a little slow off the mark, on February 29 you can take charge of popping that all-important question.

And where better to do so than at one of our most glorious gardens set around a tranquil lake, with plenty of secluded paths and pretty benches for some secret love trysts in other words, at Claremont Landscape Garden in the elegant town of Esher? How can he refuse in the face of such beauty?

Originally created in the early 18th century for Claremont House (which is now home to Claremont Fan Court School), the garden is one of the earliest surviving examples of its kind, dating from the reign of Queen Anne. Many famous horticultural names, including Sir John Vanbrugh and Capability Brown, lavished their love and skills upon it to turn it into a creation designed to be adored. Indeed, landscape gardens such as Claremont were created specifically as an informal space for friends and partners to stroll in natural surroundings, with carefully planned views to delight and surprise them as they walked.

A royal love story
What is more, in addition to all of that, Claremont also has its very own royal love story. Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg married his beloved Princess Charlotte in 1816, and the couple moved into Claremont House shortly afterwards, where they were extremely fond of the gardens. Tragically, the princess died in childbirth after just 18 months of marriage, but the Prince, who went on to become King of Belgium in 1831, owned Claremont for the rest of his life. We also know the estate was visited by Princess Victoria (the future Queen Victoria), who was Prince Leopolds niece. Surely, there have been no royal love stories quite as enduring as Queen Victorias long and devoted marriage to Prince Albert!

Modern day lovebirds will find lots to please them at Claremont Landscape Garden, too. For a start, theres the enchanting Grotto pretty much designed with lovers in mind. Or you could choose from a number of different walks, either around the lake or up into the rest of the garden towards the romantic Belvedere Tower, all with delightful stopping-off points for lovers to grab a moment or two alone.

Alternatively, you could seek inspiration from the visiting waterfowl, many of which famously mate for life, to help you confess your love to each other, before sealing the deal with a kiss and a pot of tea for two in our tearoom afterwards. Aw!

Faithful fowl
In fact, you can come and see the team feeding our feathered friends, including waterfowl, ducks, geese and doves, every day from Monday February 13 to Friday February 17 at 11am. Bring your own stale bread, biscuit crumbs and birdseed to join in. After all, they say that the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. We dont recommend that you feed him birdseed though just snuggle up together and watch the birds tuck in.

So, we hope you will gain some romantic inspiration from the love that has clearly been lavished on Claremont Landscape Garden over the centuries, from garden designers to princesses, by paying us a visit this month. Since receiving 49 acres of this wonderful garden in 1949, we have worked hard to preserve and develop the grounds for our visitors to enjoy. In the meantime, Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

  • Need to know: Claremont Landscape Garden, Portsmouth Road, Esher KT10 9JG. Open seven days a week from Monday February 13 (before this, the garden is open six days a week and is closed on Mondays until Sunday February 12). For more information, visit

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2012

With this being the month of love, why not treat your other half to a visit to that most romantic of settings, Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher? Here, the National Trusts Emma Brien tells us the story behind these enchanting gardens

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Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2007

Captivating Claremont

Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher offers a beguiling combination of serenity and history, with plenty to see and do all year round, courtesy of the National Trust. Emma Ward paid a visit to this enchanting oasis to find out more

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Claremont Landscape Garden is one of Esher's true gems - a green and leafy oasis where busy people can go to escape the hectic commuter lifestyle. Home to many beautiful trees and plants, with several unusual features and a peaceful lake, the 18th-century landscape garden is owned by the National Trust and open all year round for visitors to enjoy.

Widely regarded as one of the finest gardens of the English Landscape style, this enchanting estate was created by some of the greatest names in horticultural history, including Sir John Vanbrugh, Charles Bridgeman, William Kent and 'Capability' Brown.

The restoration of Claremont
The first gardens were begun around 1715 and, later, the delights of Claremont were famed throughout Europe. Since 1975, the National Trust has been restoring the historic layout.

"Many features have been faithfully maintained at Claremont, including the Serpentine lake, set in the centre of the garden, and an island with its own pavilion," says Claremont's visitor services manager, Michelle Kent. "We also have a grotto, several viewpoints and vistas and a highly unusual 18th-century turf amphitheatre. A number of paths have been laid around the lake and garden for our visitors to wander along and enjoy the constantly changing views."

Last year, the Claremont gardening team restored an area of the garden formerly known as the North Terrace and opened it to the public for the first time since the 18th century. The area had previously been covered in a dense patch of cherry laurel - growing up to eight or ten metres high in some places. The only clue to what was hidden underneath was halfway along a pathway where the original area could be seen more clearly. The team used this and historical photographs to work out where to clear the laurel and open up a portion of the terrace. They also re-laid a circular 'hoggin' walkway, a mix of gravel, sand and clay, to link the North Terrace to other walks around the garden.

Restoration work continues at Claremont, and this summer will see the creation of a children's play area. Screened from the rest of the garden by an attractive laurel hedge, it will provide the perfect place for younger visitors to let off steam and enjoy playing games in a safe and attractive environment. There is also a children's trail, specially designed to help young families find out more about the garden and to get more out of their visit. Trail sheets can be collected from the entry kiosk and are free after normal admission prices have been paid.

"Claremont Landscape Garden prides itself on being a top choice for families in the area to spend time during the school holidays or to take part in its exciting and varied events programme running throughout the year," says Michelle.

A home for wildlife
Many types of wildlife enjoy coming out to play at Claremont, and the lake provides a home for around 52 species of resident and visiting waterfowl and other birds. A wildfowl guide is available from the entrance kiosk for visitors wanting to find out more about these lakeside inhabitants. The visiting wildlife enjoys the shelter of hundreds of different types of plants and trees, including some of the finest examples of Lebanese cedars to be found in England and the famous Camellia Terrace, which displays its vibrant blooms from late December right through to mid May.

Garden tours are also run by the Claremont Fine Arts and Decorative Society every first and third Saturday, second Wednesday and last Sunday of the month from April through to October, starting at 2pm from the entrance kiosk.

For visitors wanting to take a breather during their time in the garden, Claremont provides the ideal way to stop and refuel in its tearoom, open Wednesdays to Sundays, serving a selection of delicious snacks and light meals. The caf also offers a special children's menu and hot and cold drinks. In addition, there is a well-stocked gift shop selling books, cards and keepsakes, including a range of souvenirs at pocket money prices.

"Whether you're an avid gardener, a wildlife enthusiast or just someone who enjoys spending time in beautiful surroundings, a visit to Claremont Landscape garden is the perfect choice for a day out," adds Michelle.

  • Claremont Landscape Garden is in Portsmouth Road, Esher. For more information visit the National Trust's web site at or call 01372 467806.

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