44th Cerne Abbas Open Gardens August 14 & 15 2021
www.cerneabbasopengardens.org.uk Second Site by Bob Foulser
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Queries number
01300 341311

History of Cerne Abbas Open Gardens

Cerne Abbas first welcomed visitors to some of its gardens in 1974. With the exception of the years 1977 and 1978 the event has been repeated every year. In 1974 24 gardens were open and many of these originals are still opening today.

In the early years all the money raised was used to support organisations within the village, but from 1987 onwards the policy has been to divide the proceeds equally between the village and an outside cause. These are chosen by a ballot of the garden openers. Past recipients may be inspected on the Beneficiaries webpage.

The gardens are very varied, ranging from the very small gardens attached to modern houses to larger ones, largely hidden from view, behind more historic houses. We have included an ancient watermeadow that has been carefully renovated to provide a landscape garden for some residents. Nick Williams Ellis, Gold medal winner at Chelsea and Hampton Court, lived in the village until 2010. Several gardens have benefited from his skills. Another garden, Barnwells was made in the early 1920s in the Arts and Crafts fashion and has featured in The English Garden magazine.

The village itself is famous for its chalk figure carved into the hillside to the north. This is best viewed from the viewpoint on the A352 Dorchester-Sherborne road. The village grew up around the Benedictine abbey founded in 987. Alas, it was largely destroyed at the reformation though a gatehouse, guest house and two barns remain. Much of the building material found its way from the abandoned abbey into houses around the village. Abbey Street is one of the most handsome in Dorset. The jettied houses are thought to have been built by the abbey around 1500. Originally these were reproduced on both sides of the street and along its entire length.

The village is frequently used for filming and two television gardening programmes visited in association with Open Gardens:

1987 TSW
1995 Grassroots