Since the late 1930s Chelsworth has become well-known by many visitors from the whole of East Anglia and further afield, not least on the last Sunday in June every year. On that day, for more than 49 years, the parishioners of Chelsworth have opened their gates and welcomed thousands of visitors into their gardens.
Back in the late 1960s, it was suggested that as a way of increasing funds, villagers might try opening their gardens on the same day, charging visitors half-a-crown to see them. From this modest beginning has developed an enterprise that is most commendable bearing in mind the size and population of the village. “Open Gardens” can now be seen all over the county, but Chelsworth is fortunate to have all its gardens in close proximity with car parking nearby.
For the villagers, the open gardens event is the culmination of months of planting, weeding, mowing and the baking of cakes! For visitors to the village, it is an opportunity to wander through a variety of gardens and relax with a cup of tea in beautiful surroundings. There are usually more than twenty gardens open, many of which are full of surprises. From the tiny to the enormous there is something to interest everyone. There is a water world of willows, bridges and lilies; walled gardens, and those resplendent with wild flowers. Formal gardens, a ‘butterfly ditch’, tall stately delphiniums, hollyhocks, roses and vegetable gardens all combine with beautiful timbered houses to give an air of tranquillity.
If you are not familiar with the village of Chelsworth it is arguably one of Suffolk’s prettiest and nestles in the valley of the River Brett on the B1115 midway between Sudbury and Stowmarket.