Nynehead Court and its surrounding landscape are historically and scenically among the most interesting areas in Somerset. The Court has been described as ‘a remarkably early example of the classical style in Somerset’ (Pevsner). There was a stone house here by the late 14th Century, replacing a simpler building dating from Saxon times. However, the present-day Court is the result of major rebuilding in about 1675. The most prominent owners were Fluri (1068 – 1318), de Wyke (1318-1599) and Sanford (1599 – 1940). Find out more about the history of Nynehead Court in the online Nynehead Archive
Listed by English Heritage, the formal gardens of Nynehead Court are considered to be of national importance. Their evolution over the centuries has matched that of the house. Set in 13 acres of level parkland, the grounds contain 45 species of trees, a walled pinetum, a productive walled garden, two croquet lawns and one of the largest icehouses in the country. The focal point of the garden is the beautiful parterre, a complex pattern of low box hedges that lead you up to the South side of the house. A Sculpture Park opened in the grounds in September 2015 and new installations are introduced regularly.
In the past the grounds have been well-utilised for croquet and boules tournaments, art-garden displays, fetes, charitable fundraising events, musical concerts, the erection of stalls and marquees for individual events and outside plays.
The gardens are open to the public Wednesday-Sunday 11am-4pm. Please obtain a permit from Nynehead Court prior to visiting, the application form for this can be found here. Regular garden tours are also conducted by prior appointment with the Head Gardener.
Images © Nynehead Court
The Ice House
In the days before refrigeration many estates had an ice-house. Packing ice into a large block slows melting. By further insulating the ice with straw or sawdust, and enclosing it within walls with a roof over, it would remain frozen for many months, often until the following Winter. The ice would be used during the Summer months to preserve food, or allow ice-cream and sorbet desserts to be prepared, or simply for cooling drinks.
The Nynehead ice house is about 500 yards from the nearest point of the River Tone, the likeliest source of ice. It was built in March 1803 and although typical in its construction for the time, it is larger than many found locally and with a South-facing entrance. It is a brick lined, domed structure, with most of its volume underground. It also has a conical or rounded bottom to hold melted ice in and a large iron drain to take away any water from the ice as quickly as possible. The present entrance probably had two or three doors to act as insulation between the warm outside air and the cool inside of the ice house.
Ice houses flourished during the 18th and early 19th centuries but fell out of use once ice could be imported from elsewhere.
Before the development of modern bee hives, the use of bee boles was a practical way of keeping bees in some parts of Britain. These bee boles helped to keep the wind and rain away from the straw skeps (small hives) and the bees living inside
On the brick wall between the church and Nynehead Court there are three curved structures which were bee boles and were originally open at the back but are now blocked off with brick. The honey was collected and the wax used for altar candles.