Get ready to be wowed at Forde Abbey in Somerset.
An absolute South West treasure, Forde Abbey is ready for all to explore its stunning historic house and gardens.
A great day out for families in Somerset
With its wide open lawns and the space and freedom to explore, Forde Abbey makes for a wonderful family day out.
Watch the littles ones marvel at the willow labyrinth in the arboretum and feel yourselves get back to nature as you spot wildlife on the lake.
Picnics are welcome too! When the weather is on your side, we recommend setting up on the luscious lawns and having a home-made feast. At only £5 for a child ticket too, this makes Forde Abbey a great choice for families on a budget.
Forde Abbey is a gardener's dream
For any green-fingered folks looking for inspiration and places to visit in Somerset, Forde Abbey is definitely one for the list. Forde Abbey is a must-visit if you love to visit National Trust properties, English Heritage sites, National Garden Scheme spots,
Home to the highest powered fountain in the country, the award-winning gardens include topiary lined vistas, colourful herbaceous borders, an arboretum, a bog garden, which together with swathes of early Spring bulbs and camellias provide all year round interest. Designed to incorporate both the formal and informal aspects of garden design, the straight lines give way to meandering pathways the further you head away from the house, with plenty of benches and seating to admire the views along the way.
The history of Forde Abbey
Immerse yourself in the stunning architecture of the Abbey. It was founded in the twelfth century and flourished for 400 years as a centre of religious life and learning until its dissolution in 1539.
Over the following 100 years, the Abbey passed through the hands of various absentee landlords until 1649, when it was purchased by Edmund Prideaux, Member of Parliament for Lyme Regis, a fervent supporter of the parliamentary cause. He later became Oliver Cromwell's Attorney General.
He was responsible for transforming Forde Abbey from a Monastic residence to a private home.
So what is there to see and do at Forde Abbey today?
The famous Mortlake Tapestries at Forde Abbey
The Abbey is home to the famous Mortlake Tapestries. Displayed on the walls in The Saloon are the most important works of art in the Abbey. These intricately woven works of art depict scenes from the lives of St Peter and St Paul, as described in St John's Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. Make sure to take some time to look at all the unique details shown in these stunning works of craftsmanship and art.
You may have seen Forde Abbey on TV
The stunning grade I listed former Cistercian monastery and beautifully maintained gardens make for an ideal filming location. Over the centuries, it has been sympathetically converted from its monastic origins in 1141 to its present-day use as a family home. Forde Abbey has been the backdrop to the Hollywood adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 'Far From the Madding Crowd,' starring Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge and other period dramas like BBCs 2002 adaptation of George Elliot's novel Daniel Deronda.
Grab a bite and a souvenir before you go
Visit the Abbey Coffee Shop, serving a selection of teas, coffees, cold drinks, ice creams, cakes, cream teas and light bites. You'll find something for everyone to enjoy.
Before you go, don't forget to visit the Gift Shop, where you can browse a range of gifts from toys, books, decorative items, Forde Abbey souvenirs and condiments to take home and enjoy.
No matter the time of year or the weather, a visit to Forde Abbey will delight and amaze you. Whether you're coming alone or bringing the kids or loved ones, we're sure you'll want to return to the Abbey again and again.
Exclusive offers on days out at Forde Abbey, book tickets now!
How to get here
Forde Abbey House and Gardens, Chard, TA20 4LU
From the M5:
Leave the motorway at Junction 25 (Taunton) and take the A358 to Chard.
From the A303:
Leave the A303 at the turning for Crewkerne and join the A356. At Crewkerne take the A30 towards Chard.
Take the A30 to Honiton and then the A35 to Axminster. In Axminster take the A358 towards Chard.
Forde Abbey is situated 4 miles south east of Chard in Somerset. There are brown tourist signs for Forde Abbey from the A30, A358 and B3165. It is advised that you follow the brown tourist signs and not your satnav as you get close to Forde Abbey.
Using Public Transport
Getting to Forde Abbey by public transport is a challenge but not impossible. However, combining a trip to Forde Abbey with a walking tour of the area, whether a short one day excursion or as part of a longer holiday, is always a very enjoyable experience and public transport can be used both to get to the area and for travelling locally. There is a series of well signposted and maintained footpaths nearby and Forde Abbey itself acts as the starting point for the 90 mile long Jubilee Trail.
For more information on using local transport and for timetables please click on the links below.
South West Trains – Both Crewkerne (5 miles) and Axminster (8 miles) are on the mainline from London Waterloo to Exeter
First Group offers a nationwide bus network
Traveline offers impartial information on using public transport and includes a useful journey planner using trains, buses and coaches
Sustrans is a very useful resource for both cyclists and walkers
- Toilets & disabled toilets
- Free parking
- Gift shop
- Coffee shop
- Dogs are allowed into the grounds on short leads, with water bowls provided at the Gift Shop and the Abbey Coffee Shop entrance. Only assistance dogs are welcome in the House.
Accessibility info for Forde Abbey
We have tried to make Forde Abbey as accessible as possible for people with disabilities, given the obvious restraints of a listed house and garden. Entry to the garden for both the person with a disability and their accompanying registered carer is half price each, between March and October, on the production of any of the following appropriate documentation.
(Disability living allowance, attendance allowance award letter, letter from GP or consultant, personal independence payment letter (dated within the last 12 months) or a valid Blue Badge. Letter from GP or consultant (dated within the last 12 months) confirming the need for a full-time carer. This does not need to be a letter of diagnosis.)
For visitors with impaired vision, the information cards in each room of the House are also available in a large print version from the steward in the Great Hall as you enter the house. If you would like to explore the house using touch, please ask the steward at the front desk for the ‘white handkerchief.’ This will identify you to each of the room stewards and they will then allow you to touch all of the exhibits and the furniture.
Unfortunately, the upstairs rooms in the house are not suitable for people in wheelchairs. However, visitors are able to view these rooms on the computerised slide-show set up in the Great Hall. This shows many of the features of the rooms upstairs, with descriptions, and is completely automated. We do not charge entry for people in wheelchairs.
If you are able to negotiate the shallow stairs to the upper floor there are easily identifiable chairs throughout the house that you may use to rest on at any time. These chairs are the same in each of the rooms and the room stewards will be able to point you in the right direction if you are in any doubt.
We welcome amateur photography within the gardens and grounds. We regret, however, that photography in the Abbey is not permitted, this includes video cameras and mobile phone cameras. No commercial use of photographs is permitted in any part of the estate without written permission.
Much of the garden is accessible to people in wheelchairs, although there are some sloping gravel paths and lawns, and the Bog Garden may present some difficulties. On arrival, the most suitable paths for wheelchair users will be indicated to you. If you have any other disability, please ask staff for advice. There are benches around the gardens to rest. For advice before your visit regarding accessibility, please telephone the Gift Shop between the opening hours of 10.30am – 5pm; 01460 221699.
There are toilet facilities for the disabled.
For Overseas Visitors
The information cards in each room in the House are also available in the following languages and may be collected from the desk in the Great Hall. The Tearoom can also provide basic menu explanations in these languages too:
French – Francais
German – Deutsch
Italian – Italiano
Dutch – Nederlands
Spanish – Español
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