A visit to Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire

09 November 2018

Mottisfont Abbey

House and home

There’s a romantic note in the air at Mottisfont Abbey, and once you’ve learned about the history of the house it will come as no surprise why. Home to Maud Russell in the 1930s, she transformed the house into a creative retreat by inviting artists to her home to draw and paint using her past as their inspiration – this is what has formed the beautiful surroundings that it’s synonymous with today, but the abbey itself dates back much further.

Originally an Augustinian priory in 1201, Mottisfont House had most of the original architecture and features hidden as it became a haven for the artistic flair of Russell family. However, the space is undeniable. The vaulted cellarium, previously the priory’s giant larder, gives an idea of what life was like over 800 years ago.

Down the garden path

Mottisfont Abbey flower beds

Mottisfont doesn’t just have the creative vibe in the house, but it’s also carried through into the grounds outside. With the changing seasons the gardens transform from fresh greens, to bright blooms and those stunning autumnal shades.

The house is renowned for having one of the best rose gardens in the UK - enough to really tantalise the senses when you visit and the roses are in bloom.

But perhaps the best part of the grounds is that with the right map and a little insider knowledge it becomes a wild play area for the little ones.

Mottosfont House flower beds

Using natural features such as hedgerows, pools and arguably one of the best bridges in the country to play pooh sticks, it’s a fantastic family day out. Wander with the kids and see if you can find Fred’s Fishing Hut, the Bottomless Cavern and even the Troll Bridge...cross if you dare!

Down to a fine art

If the weather doesn’t lend itself to outdoor exploration then you might want to take advantage of the exhibitions within the house. With such a creative family owning Mottisfont, it comes as no surprise that the artistic tradition carries on today. Artist and collector Derek Hill left a large collection of 20th century art to the estate which is on display through the year. Whether you favour satirical cartoons, portraits or carefully considered landscapes, there’s a variety of subject matter and artists to explore. What’s more, there are digital versions of all the artworks around the space if mobility is an issue for visitors.

Play in the wider estate

River Test at Mottisfont, Hampshire

After you’ve explored Mottisfont Abbey and the wild grounds, you might want to take a look at the wider estate. Although you won’t be able to discover all of the 1600 acres of woodland and farmland in a single day, you will be able to see some of the most beautiful sites that Hampshire has to offer including wetland meadows, chestnut coppices and Curbridge Nature Reserve. Sitting on the river Hamble and lined with ancient oak woodland, the reserve is an important site for wild birds and so has become a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA).

One you’ve finished your exploration of Mottisfont Abbey, the grounds and the wider estate, there’s nothing quite like settling down in the Kitchen Café with a cup of tea and a slice (or two) of homemade cake!

Mottisfont Opening times:

Gardens open between 10:00am-5:00pm, house opens at 11am

Mottisfont Entrance Prices:

Adults £14.30, children £7.15