Regrettably, we were unable to open the house last year, but we are looking forward to reopening in Spring 2021 and we will work with you to ensure your visit is COVID Compliant.
We are busy working on plans, so if you would like to book a tour for 2021, please do not hesitate to contact us here
A variety of private group tours are available at Holdenby House catering to a range of interests. We welcome groups to the House and gardens all year round for pre-booked tours. All group tours should be pre-booked to avoid disappointment.
Built in 1583 by Queen Elizabeth’s Lord Chancellor, Sir Christopher Hatton, Holdenby was once the largest house in Elizabethan England. It subsequently became the Palace of James I and Charles I, and finally Charles’ prison after his defeat in The English Civil War.
Guided House Tours (1.5 hours):
Now reduced to an eight of its original size, Holdenby has lost little of its magnificence with beautifully grand state rooms and Grade I listed gardens.
Guided House Tours allow you to experience the elegant enfilade of rooms along the Garden Front containing portraits of Charles I alongside those of the Lowther family, one of the oldest families in Britain, who still reside in the house today. Extraordinary instruments in the music room, a copy of Eikon Basilike, written by Charles I at Holdenby and a signed Texan Hat given to the owner by Larry Hagman (JR) are
amongst the unusual treasures on display.
The Guided House Tours comprises 9 ground floor rooms within the house. There are steps between some rooms and ramps can be arranged to accommodate wheelchairs, but these must be arranged in advance of the tour. After the tour, visitors are welcome to explore the gardens at their own leisure. House tours cost £12 per person and the minimum charge for a private tour is £240.
Head Gardener Tours (1.5 hours):
Holdenby House is surrounded by 20 acres of Grade I listed gardens are documented in the book “1001 Gardens you Must See Before You Die”. Over the years the gardens have taken many different forms and now beautifully reflect the grandeur and history of Holdenby House. They comprise of:
- The Elizabethan Garden – This was replanted in 1980 to a Rosemary Verey design, copying the shape of the original Palace plateau garden and using only plants available in 1580, when the gardens would have first taken shape.
- The Tous Tous border – This border was named after Lady Annaly’s pet dog, Tous Tous, who is buried in the garden. In 1980 replanting of this border was started following a Rosemary Verey design and completed by Rupert Golby as a fragrant border
- The Pond Garden – Designed by Rupert Golby, The Pond Garden features two annual plantings of spring and summer plants.
- King Charles’s Walk – Retract the footsteps of King Charles on the walk where he took exercise during his imprisonment at Holdenby; he was a brisk walker and it is rumoured that his keeper, Lord Pembroke, had difficulty keeping up with him!
- The Silver Border – This border houses the owner’s beautiful and ever-growing collection of silver-leafed plants.
- The Kitchen Garden – This garden is still used to grow fruit, vegetables and cut flowers for the House.
- The Elizabethan Pond – Constructed between 1583 & 1587 as part of the original Elizabethan garden, is currently undergoing restoration
- The Arches – The original Base Court arches to the Palace, dated 1583, still stand in the parkland of Holdenby House
- The Palace Garden - The earthworks of the original Gardens of Holdenby Palace, one of the grandest of the era, can still be seen.
- Sculptures – Holdenby is home to 3 modern sculptures designed by world-famous artist & milliner, David Shilling. Total Freedom is situated on the Croquet Lawn, AKS beautifully frames the Silver Border & Point You is on the gravel path between the Elizabethan Garden and The Tous Tous Border.
The Head Gardner Tour comprises of a 1 hour guided tour of the gardens, followed by free-flow of the gardens and Q&A with our expert Head Gardner either, in relation to our gardens here at Holdenby, or your own green fingered challenges that you may have at home.
Our Head Gardner, Mat has been with us here at Holdenby for 24 years, he became our head Gardner in 2004 and under his management the team have brought the gardens back to a standard that reflects Holdenby House and its surroundings
We hope visitors will understand that the gravelled paths, although not ideal for wheelchairs, are part of the character of the gardens. After the tour, visitors are welcome to explore the gardens at their own leisure. Head Gardeners Tours cost £10 per person and the minimum charge for a private tour is £200.
Guided House & Garden Tours (3 hours) *
The Guided House and Garden Tour combines the two aforementioned tours. A guided house tour of 9 ground floor rooms within the house, there are steps between some rooms, ramps can be arranged to accommodate wheelchairs, but these must be arranged in advance of the tour. Followed by 1 hour guided tour of the gardens and Q&A with our expert Head Gardner either, in relation to our gardens here at Holdenby, or your own green fingered challenges that you may have at home. After the tour, visitors are welcome to explore the gardens at their own leisure. Guided House & Garden Tours cost £20 per person and the minimum charge for a private tour is £400.
*We suggest this is taken as two separate tours with lunch or a refreshment break between them.
Catering Options at Holdenby House
There are a variety of catering options available for tour groups, served in Connie’s Tea Parlour in The Old Stable Yard at Holdenby House. Hot/Cold Buffets, Grazing Tables, Afternoon Tea’s, Light Lunches & Refreshments. Vegan and other dietary requirements can be catered for*. Please get in touch for menus.
If there is something you would specifically like we will do our best to accommodate special requests and put menus together for you. All group catering must be pre-booked.
*please note that all due care will be taken when catering for dietary requirements but as all food is cooked/baked on site in the same kitchen, allergens may be present
Additional Information for your visit
There is coach parking in the car park located near to the House but please note there is a separate coach entrance a little further down the road. Coaches are not permitted via the main drive / entrance arch.
We welcome guests with disabilities and work hard to ensure that you can access as much of the site as possible. Disabled parking will be
clearly marked, and Blue Badges should be displayed. We hope visitors will understand that the gravelled paths, although not ideal for wheelchairs, are part of the character of the house.
Please note we have a minimum charge for each tour as detailed above. A £60.00 deposit is required to secure your group visit. Catering arrangements can be put into place with the Estate Office but must be paid directly to Connie’s Tea Parlour. Larger Groups may be split into smaller groups to ensure that the tour is not impacted by group sizes.
How to book
We look forward to welcoming your group to Holdenby House & Gardens. If you are interested in booking a group tour, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01604 770074. We look forward to helping you plan a memorable visit for your group.