Abbotsbury April Calendar Challenge 2019

St Catherine’s Chapel

Continuing the West Country 2019 Calendar Challenge , April sees us visiting St Catherine’s Chapel in Abbotsbury , Dorset.

First stop on arriving was the famous Abbotsbury Swannery .

The Fleet lagoon formed at the end of the last ice age as melt water flooded behind the already formed Chesil Beach leaving shallow salty water in which plants grew profusely producing an ideal environment for wildfowl and water birds. The Benedictine monastery of St. Peter’s was established on the site in the eleventh century when King Cnut (Canute) gave the land to his steward, Orc, and the monks managed the swans as a ready source of meat for use at their lavish banquets.

The swannery was used by the monks until 1539 when the monastery was dissolved by King Henry VIII. The ruined remains of the monastery are still visible near the Church of St. Nicholas, Abbotsbury.[ The site was then purchased by Sir Guy Strangeways, and has remained in the ownership of the Strangeways family through fifteen generations up to the present day; an estate of some 61 square kilometres (15,000 acres) in Dorset covering Chesil Beach and Abbotsbury is still held by the Ilchester Estate owned by Mrs Charlotte Townshend, the daughter of Viscount Galway, a descendant of the first Countess of Ilchester.

The Swannery is an excellent place to visit and it also has a great cafe and gift shop, whilst my fellow explorers enjoyed their food and refreshments I took a hike up to St Catherine’s Chapel which was the picture featured in the calendar.

With everyone watered and feed the next stop was the Sub Tropical gardens at Abbotsbury.

The garden originates in 1765. In the late eighteenth century, the Fox-Strangeways family (the Earls of Ilchester) built a new house on the location; when it was burnt down in 1913, they returned to their family seat at Melbury House, but the walled garden was maintained—it remains in the ownership of the family. Since then, particularly after the contributions of the 4th Earl of Ilchester,[the gardens have developed into an 8 hectares (20 acres) site with exotic plants, many of which were newly discovered species when they were first introduced. There are formal and informal gardens, with woodland walks and walled gardens; in addition, the gardens also contain certain “zones” that exhibit plants from different geographical areas.

Like to thank my daughter Lily for taking some excellent pictures, after a good walk around and spending some money on plants at the gift shop we were homeward bound.

What an excellent family day out something for everyone and we had superb weather a real scorcher.