HEALE GARDENS, WOODFORD VALLEY, SALISBURY

Heale Gardens are eight acres of tranquility, birdsong and gently running streams in the Woodford Valley. Open to the public five days a week, they are the perfect spot for the Slow Traveller to wander through an 'English Country Garden' in near solitude.

A river running through Heale Gardens

Heale House is a 16th century, privately-owned house just outside Middle Woodford in the Woodford Valley, about 4 miles outside Salisbury and just 4 miles from Stonehenge. The Woodford Valley is a beautiful place; three small villages which follow the meandering path of the River Avon, villages of thatched cottages, lichen clad churches and old village halls surrounded by hills of woods and open farmland. A visit here can feel like a step back in time.


The house is 16th century, a delightfully quirky, unpretentious manor house. Built by Sir William Green, it was given to his daughter as a wedding present in 1533. It changed hands several times over the following centuries with the occupants making several changes to the structure, until a fire devastated much of it in 1835. Sensitively rebuilt on the original foundations, it is now a beautiful, wisteria-clad building of mellow red brick with a dressed stone façade, tall ornate doorways and windows of gently bowing glass panes.

Its claim to fame is that Charles II spent 6 days hiding here in 1651 when he was on the run from parliamentary forces after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester. 'The Monarchs Way' is the 625 mile route he took to escape to France (which can now be followed as a long distance footpath) and it enters the area through Grovely Woods, going through nearby Stoford and Stapleford before following the Avon into Middle and then Lower Woodford.


At the time, the house was owned by Katherine Hyde, widow of the MP Lawrence Hyde who was loyal to the Crown. He arrived with his servants and then made a great show of leaving by riding around the district and visiting Stonehenge, before returning secretly, known only to Mrs Hyde. He hid there for 6 days while plans were made to find a ship which would take him to France and safety.

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