Between May and the end of September, residential guests are welcome to enjoy the incredible swimming experience in Broad Water Lake. You’ll need to sign our Water Policy first, but once that is out of the way, roll your towel under your arm and head down to the swimming area marked on your map. As you emerge from the Rhododendron tunnel, you’ll see the lake and swimming area sparkling ahead of you, set against the stunning backdrop of the woodland beyond. Having checked the swimming guidelines on the small notice board by the reeds, lower yourself into the lake and push off into the deep water, leave your worries behind for a while and soak up the sounds and sights as your drift through the water.
Visit the Orangery Tea Room
One of the most popular things to do when visiting Ashburnham Place is to head to the Orangery Tea Room. Designed by Lancelot’ Capability’ Brown, the Orangery is a bright and airy space housing not only our traditional English Tea Room but also two of the oldest Camelias in the country. If you are lucky, they will be flowering for your visit. Once seated at an inside table or out on the terrace, you’ll find a varied food and drink menu to sit back and enjoy in the peaceful surroundings.
Walk the Labyrinth
One of the more hidden activities at Ashburnham Place is to walk our Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is tucked behind the Walled Garden and is enclosed by a living wall of willow.
The walking of a labyrinth is an ancient practice that takes the ‘walker’ on a prayerful journey to the symbolic centre of a carefully woven pathway. Our Labyrinth is designed to help you slow down as you wind your way along the path inward and is as much about the journey as the destination.
Visit St Peters Church
At the centre of the Ashburnham, Place site is the church building of St Peters. St Peters is usually left open so that visitors can come to pray or simply sit and enjoy the silence of an ancient place of worship. On your way through the churchyard, you may spot wildflowers and other wildlife, possibly even our two friendly resident goats (please don’t feed them!). There are weekly services on Sunday mornings that are open to all. Please do feel welcome to join the local congregation.
When you visit Ashburnham Place, you’re welcome to walk around Broad Water lake. A lake walk of around 1km with gentle inclines. See what wildlife you can spot. The walk is gentle with great lakes views, and you can visit the cross or the temple. If you’re a residential guest, feel free to walk around our other lakes, equally beautiful, each with character and exciting points of interest. There is always something new to notice and appreciate as the seasons change. After very wet weather, the paths can get rather muddy, so it is worth wearing suitable footwear to get the most from the woodland walks.
The range of habitat, particularly the mix of ancient woodland, lakes and open fields, make Ashburnham Place a haven for all sorts of birdlife. Why not take an hour to walk around the site, listen for birdsong, and see what birds you can identify? While we have some sightings of very rare birds at Ashburnham Place, there is simply joy in watching and listening to God’s creation no matter how ‘common’ or ‘rare’. Increasingly we are trying to manage our 220 acres with a view to encouraging bio-diversity, we hope this further supports the birds making their home here and your enjoyment of them.
Discover the Lookout
There are a few hidden gems at Ashburnham Place that the majority of our guests never discover. The Lookout is one of them. The Lookout would have been used by the Ashburnham Family in their heyday as a place of relaxation and leisure to enjoy the peace of the woodland and the glade immediately in front.
As you would guess by its name, the Lookout is at the top of the site, and there are still views to be enjoyed through the trees across the valley. If you are starting from the main building, the Lookout is approximately a 1.5km steep walk up into the woods above Broad Water lake. If you have children who need to run off steam, it is a good challenge to them off along the winding paths in search of this beautifully wood-panelled, 3-sided building.
Enjoy an evening at a fire site.
If you are staying with a group at Ashburnham Place, one of your options for the evenings is to use one of our fire sites. There is nothing quite like sitting with friends and family around a blazing fire under starlit skies, it is an excellent opportunity to share stories, sing together or sit and enjoy watching the flames.
If you let us know in advance, our team will ensure that enough logs have been left by the fire site to last you for many hours.
Study in the Library
Our Library is the perfect place to get away for some quiet study. If you need somewhere peaceful to get away to read and write, why not check at Reception and if the Library is free to enjoy a few quiet hours in our Library.
You will be surrounded by shelves of theological texts and be able to enjoy views out across the lakes and woodland of Ashburnham Place.
Find the Waterfall
Along the lower border of Ashburnham Place runs the River Ashbourne, you might first discover it at the small stone bridge below the car parks. If you turn right before the bridge and follow the course of the river through the woodland, you will eventually see a small brick building on your left, this is the former pump house. As you come to the Pump House you will hear the background rumble of the stream, head towards the sound and you will find yourself at the waterfall. Maybe take a seat on the bank and watch as the water cascades and tumbles into the pool below. Who knows what you’ll notice? You may even be gifted the sight of a darting kingfisher or a scampering fox cub.