Arley has been home to the ancestors of the current Lord Ashbrook for the past 500 years and amongst them is a contributor to the Armada Fund for fighting the Spanish and a man who was sheriff under Oliver Cromwell.
“Visitors are enthralled by entering a piece of living history,” said General Manager Steve Hamilton. “It gives an intimate insight into life in the hall and the history of a family that has cherished Arley as their home for centuries.”
An exhibition room tells all these stories and more and on a trip to Arley you can also find out about its most famous housekeeper Elizabeth Raffald – the Delia Smith of the 1700s. She wrote The Experienced English Housekeeper, which it is believed went through 13 authorised editions and at least 23 pirated ones. In 1773, she sold the copyright to her publisher for £1,400 – about £200,000 today. In Arley’s exhibition room there are details of other hall and estate workers giving visitors a complete picture of life at Arley over the centuries.
There have been some dramatic moments in recent times too. In 2015 Arley Hall was taken over by Birmingham gangsters, but it was all in aid of the BBC2 drama Peaky Blinders. Actors Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and actress Helen McCrory filmed scenes in the hall and the surrounding grounds over five amazing weeks of production. Arley has also provided the location for Antiques Roadshow, Coronation Street, Our Zoo, Songs of Praise, Sherlock Holmes and a Disney children’s television series. Visitors can walk in the rooms where the stars filmed their scenes, but there are many other reasons to visit Arley including the award-winning gardens.
In April and May look out for the bluebells and rhododendrons and possibly book onto one of the guided walks. Escape into The Grove to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity. Here you will discover more than 400 varieties of rhododendrons which, mixed with the azaleas, look stunning in early spring. Throughout the gardens’ open season the herbaceous border provides something of interest. It is believed to be the first double herbaceous border in England and reaches its peak in late summer.
The Walled Garden is magical and has a beautiful water feature at its centre. If you venture into the Kitchen Garden you will no doubt spot one of our gardeners who are always happy to stop for a chat about their job or answer your gardening queries.
With lots of other nooks and crannies to explore there really is something of ‘the secret garden’ to the acres of beautifully-manicured space.
For opening times and more information go to www.arleyhallandgardens.com