Inside Highgrove House, Prince Charles and Camilla's private country house

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Photo credit: Chris Jackson
Photo credit: Chris Jackson

Here at Country Living, we’re filling our summer diary with relaxing garden tours and nostalgic country house visits that are right here in the UK. And there’s one we can’t wait to tick off our list: Highgrove House and Gardens in the Cotswolds.

This picturesque property in the idyllic Gloucestershire countryside is actually the country house of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Towards the end of June, the colourful Highgrove Gardens will re-open for tours, cream tea and champagne. So we decided to get the lowdown on visiting the royal property this summer, which you can do with TV gardener Christine Walkden on a special tour in September.

Where is Highgrove House?

Located just a couple of miles from Tetbury in Gloucestershire, among the gold and green fields of the Cotswolds, Highgrove is just a 10-minute drive from the walking trails of Westonbirt Arboretum and the Arts & Crafts country house, Rodmarton Manor.

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Surrounded by gorgeous rolling countryside and other important properties, it’s no surprise that Highgrove’s gardens are considered some of the UK’s most inspiring and innovative.

Can you visit Highgrove House?

As it’s the private residence of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Highgrove House itself is closed to the public. However, its extensive Royal Gardens are open for tours, including group garden tours and champagne and tea tours.

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You can also enjoy a Highgrove cream tea in the opulent Orchard Tea Room and browse the Estate Shop for a range of artisan goodies, such as chutneys and ports.

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All profits from the tasty produce on sale, garden tours and events are donated to the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund, which supports mental and physical health activities, the arts and the environment.

Does Prince Charles live at Highgrove House?

Highgrove is the private residence of Charles and Camilla and the royal couple tend to spend their time between their London property Clarence House and the Gloucestershire manor.

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The Prince of Wales first arrived at Highgrove in 1980 and since then he has devoted time and energy into transforming the gardens into the unique space you can visit today. Within five years, Charles introduced organic farming on the grounds and by 1994, the estate had gained full organic status.

What can you see at Highgrove House?

One of the absolute highlights of Highgrove is the colourful four-acre Wildflower Meadow, which features endangered native plants like the spotted orchid.

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The Kitchen Garden is where you’ll find a bounty of fruits, the Carpet Garden is cloaked in exotic scented flowers and the Lily Pool Garden provides water for visiting birds to drink and bathe in, all year round.

Plus, thanks to Charles and his friend Lady Salisbury, the gardens are adorned with scented flowers like wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle and thyme.

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Another highlight is the Arboretum, where varieties of beech, acer and cherry trees grow, as well as magnolias - whose pink and white flowers are a favourite of HRH The Prince of Wales and visitors alike.

There’s also The Stumpery, inspired by Victorian gardening techniques, with a thatched tree house, a National Collection of hostas and an oak temple and the Cottage Garden, inspired by the colours of Tibet.

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The Sundial Garden has a central stone sundial and purple and blue delphiniums, while the Thyme Walk is home to a whopping twenty varieties of thyme.

When is the best time to visit Highgrove?

Due to the care and effort that goes into maintaining the diverse grounds at Highgrove, the gardens are glorious in all seasons.

But we’d really recommend booking a visit in September, when you can see Cotswold gardens with The One Show's beloved resident green-fingered expert Christine Walkden.

As well as a tour of Highgrove's gardens, you'll get to meet Christine on a visit to the beautiful Hidcote Manor and hear a private talk from the TV gardener before she answers your questions during a Q&A session.

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Also included is a visit to the eight-acre garden at Rodmarton Manor, the Knot Garden at Cerney House and the spectacular Tom Stuart-Smith-designed Broughton Grange.

Sezincote's 'Hindu' garden, inspired by Humphry Repton, and Batsford Arboretum round out this heavenly itinerary.

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Where can you stay nearby?

Given that you can’t stay in the royal manor (a shame, we know!), we’ve found some local delights with their own Highgrove-style gardens and restaurants.

Whatley Manor, just five miles from Highgrove and 10 minutes from Westonbirt Arboretum, is a stunning option. This country hotel and spa has a two-Michelin star restaurant. Our reviewer says: "Set by rolling fields, on the eastern edge of the Cotswolds near Malmesbury, you'll enter Whatley Manor through a walled courtyard which conjures the sense of stepping into another world."

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Calcot Hotel & Spa, also just a 10-minute drive from Highgrove, is a modern haven on a 220-acre estate with private gardens. Or for something smaller, but just as stylish, check out the ornate 18th-century Cotswold Inn, The Ormond.

If visiting with Country Living in September, you’ll stay at the stylish and modern Oxford Witney Hotel, where you’ll be relaxing in a heated swimming pool, spa bath, steam room, and sauna.

Country Living's exclusive trip to the Cotswolds with Christine Walkden takes place in September and includes garden tours of Highgrove, Hidcote, Cerney House and more.

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