Open Gardens Day




Sunday, 25th June 2023    11am - 5pm

The Open Gardens story …

It was 1967, and the tiny Suffolk village of Chelsworth, (population less than 150) was the first of its kind – we believe the first village to open its gardens to the public.  Admission was half-a-crown (12.5 pence) and a total of £150 was raised (equal to about £1,690 today) helped by plant sales and, of course, teas.  Water for the teas served in the village Victory Hall was drawn from a standpipe and the washing-up was in bowls on trestle tables.  

In a setting that is picture-book English with its centuries old pub and a humped back 18th century bridge, there is both timelessness and innovation. Over the last half-century the gardens have changed in subtle ways.  There used to be more vegetable gardens -  proud owners as proficient as Chelsea exhibitors – many in 1967 were still farmworkers. Today behind each gate, you will find a surprising variety of gardens – the formal, to the typical soft cottage scene.  Knowledge abounds – talk to Sarah at the Summerhouse and you draw not only on her expertise but on that of her late father, Richard Britten, A member of the Alpine Garden Society, who regularly exhibited alpines at Vincent Square in London.  A small yellow Fritillaria Pudica ‘Richard Britain’ is named after him.

Open Gardens has raised many thousands of pounds over the last fifty years for our parish church, All Saints Chelsworth.