On a sunny Tuesday in the May half-term, Nathan and I took a trip to Chard in Somerset to visit the beautiful Forde Abbey and Gardens. We were lucky enough to be attending a special half-term pizza making workshop and enjoyed being able to explore the Abbey and gardens whilst we were there.
Forde Abbey is home to a ridiculous amount of history and walking around it visitors can find out about the various previous occupants and learn how it was monastery for 400 years! The Abbey was built over 900 years ago and is really grand. The walls are adorned with stunning tapestries and visitors can explore the many bedrooms and living quarters. The Abbey has been owned by the Kennard family since 2009 and the family continue to live on site. Photography wasn’t allowed within the Abbey, hence the lack of photos – you will just have to visit to see for yourself what it all looked like inside!
The outside of the Abbey is just as beautiful as the inside – the building’s architecture and brickwork are stunning.
There’s a lovely chapel that you can look around and spend time imagining all the monks hundreds of years ago going about their religious duties.
A pretty and interesting talking point is the beautiful wisteria that appears to grow on the building housing the men’s toilets!
The gardens at Forde Abbey are a delight to wander around and explore. They are really old too having been created in 1141! There are several different gardens including the bog garden, walled garden, rock garden and various lawns and ponds to discover. I particularly enjoyed walking through the bog garden as the flowers here were just beautiful! I loved all the colours and how everything was so well planted and maintained.
Whilst there were quite a few people visiting the abbey on this day, the gardens are so vast that you can find yourself your own private piece of garden to explore on your own in the peace and quiet! There are lots of benches situated around the gardens allowing for plenty of places to stop to rest and take in the beauty of the gardens.
One of the main features to admire in the gardens is the centenary fountain. The fountain celebrates 100 years of the Roper family at the abbey. The fountain is quite the sight with water shooting perfectly vertically 160 feet into the air. It runs three times a day and certainly isn’t to be missed! Be careful to watch the wind direction though, because as Nathan learnt, you can get caught but the surface spray and end up quite wet!
As it was half term, there were two special events offering pizza-making workshops. The workshop was £10 per person and was situated just outside the gardens in a marquee. We arrived and were warmly greeted by the chef who had built the pizza stove. After being joined by a couple of children we started the workshop, beginning with an introduction to how the pizza dough had been made.
We were each given some dough and a rolling pin and told how to roll the dough to create our pizza base. We then added tomato sauce, cheese and some fresh herbs which smelled lovely! Next, our pizzas were put into the homemade wood-burning pizza oven.
The pizzas didn’t take too long to cook and within a few minutes, we were tucking into our delicious margaritas. The pizzas were super tasty and tasted even better knowing we had handmade them and they had been cooked in the special pizza oven. The chef was super friendly and answered all our questions about how he made the oven. You can check out what events are coming up on the Forde Abbey website.
In case you don’t fancy making your own pizza then there’s always the option to grab something to eat at the Tearoom. There’s plenty of space too sit both inside and outside and lots of yummy drinks and food on offer. Nathan and I treated ourselves to a late afternoon hot chocolate and cake each which were very tasty, if a little on the pricey side.
Be sure to check out the well-stocked gift and plant shop on the way out too!
We really enjoyed our trip to Forde Abbey and enjoyed the tasty pizza-making workshop. I really enjoyed exploring the beautiful gardens and taking all the photos of the flowers on display. The fountain was pretty cool too! Entry prices to the abbey and gardens are £13 for an adult and £5 for children. It was £10 each for the pizza making workshop which I think was possibly a little on the pricey side given the length of the workshop – it’s probably best aimed at children but was a unique experience to make and cook pizza in a woodfired pizza oven.
***Entry to the Abbey and pizza making workshop was provided to us on a complimentary basis in return for this review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.***