Wide laurel-hedged rides radiate from the magnificent main lawn and take you to the tranquil woodland beyond.

In spring there is a wonderful display of Camellias, and Rhododendrons. In high summer the hydrangea collection makes a striking display of colour, and towering over the ponds we have exceptionally fine and majestic Eucryphias. In autumn, the trees and shrubs, together with the woodland beyond, create a rich tapestry of colour. The Larmer Tree contains a wonderful collection of ornate buildings, with free-flying Macaws and roaming peacocks all retained in an enchanting and tranquil atmosphere.

THE GARDENS ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 2019.

The Garden & Cafe are normally open Sunday to Thursday April to October 11.00am – 4.30pm

  • Adults £4.00

  • Senior Citizens, Groups (15+) and Concessions £3.00

  • Family (2+4) £12.50

  • Children £2.50

  • Children Under 5 Free

Please Note, we are always closed on Fridays & Saturdays for weddings and events but please check the calendar for other occasional closures.

GROUP VISITS

We warmly welcome group visits to the gardens and invite you to consider us a venue for your next outing, whether you are a member of your local WI, horticultural group, a lunch club or you simply want somewhere different to meet!

Groups of 15 guests or more benefit from a concessionary entrance fee, of £3.00 pp. We recommend that you pre-book and should you wish we can organise a guided tour with one of our gardeners to explain more about the grounds and their history, a tour costs £1.50 pp. We are happy to arrange group visits outside of our public opening times and estimate that a visit lasts approximately 2 hours including a refreshment break. The Coffee Grove Café can provide morning coffee, a delicious lunch, or a cream tea for your group, so please contact us for a menu and a booking form.

Set in the outstanding landscape of the Cranborne Chase, these beautifully laid out gardens were created by General Pitt Rivers in 1880. 

Recognised by English Heritage as a Garden of National Importance, they were first privately owned gardens to be opened for public enjoyment.

PARKING

There is ample free parking for both cars and coaches.

COFFEE GROVE CAFÉ

The café serves a variety of hot and cold drinks, together with delicious cakes, savouries and light bites and offers an array of local produce. or why not order a hamper and picnic in the gardens?

DISABLED VISITORS

Most of the garden, with the exception of the Dell, is accessible to disabled visitors using the gravel paths. The disabled toilet is located in the Coffee Grove Café garden and there is a wheel chair available to use.

CHILDREN

Ask at the Coffee Grove Café for the Fairy Door Trail and there are baby changing facilities located in the disabled toilet.

DOGS

Dogs are welcome on leads in the Café Garden, however due to the large amount of ornamental birds they are not permitted in the main garden. There are large trees for shady parking in the car park together with a tap and water bowl. Guide dogs are most welcome in all areas.

The garden takes its name from a magnificent landmark tree that stood on this site as early as the 10th century.

The origin of the word ‘Larmer’ is so ancient that it can only be guessed at. Originally spelt Lavermere, ‘Mere’ would certainly mean a boundary, while ‘Laver’ might have come from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Laur’, perhaps meaning Laurel. King John (1189-1216) hunted in this area many times and tradition states he met with his huntsmen under the branches of the Larmer Tree.

In 1880, General Augustus Lane Fox inherited the Rushmore Estate, a condition of the will being that he change his name to Pitt Rivers. General Pitt Rivers almost immediately set about creating the Larmer Tree Pleasure Grounds, which by 1899 were attracting over 44,000 visitors a year. Surrounding the main lawn he constructed a variety of builds intended to enlighten and educate his estate workers and visitors. For those visitors wishing to picnic there were eight areas known as quarters, each was enclosed by laurel hedges and contained a thatched building for shelter.

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Music and entertainment were very much associated with the gardens. The Singing Theatre was used for plays and poetry recitals and in the field adjoining the gardens there was a racecourse, law tennis courts and an eighteen-hole golf links. In the evening the gardens were illuminated with thousands of Vauxhall lights and there was dancing in the open air. “Quite the prettiest sight I ever saw in my life” is how Thomas Hardy described it in 1895.

Following the General’s death in 1900 the gardens closed, opening only occasionally for specific events. In 1991 Michael Pitt Rivers, the General’s great grandson, set about restoring the gardens, however many of the buildings had been lost and laurel had swamped all but the main lawn. In 1995, these extraordinary gardens were reopened to the public. In December 1999, shortly before his death Michael Pitt Rivers planted a new Larmer Tree to mark the new millennium.

Upcoming Events

Gardens Calendar

THE GARDENS ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 2019.

The Gardens are open Sunday to Thursday 11.00am – 4.30pm. However, events may mean that from time to time the gardens are closed during these times. Please consult the calendar below to ensure we are open for your planned visit, or call us for more information.

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Gardens Open

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Gardens Closed