One of the most important Tudor buildings in the country… decorations said to be the finest of their kind in England.
House & Grounds Today
After a programme of painstaking conservation work, largely funded by English Heritage, the East and North ranges of Acton Court can now be viewed. The many ‘finds’ discovered during the archaeological excavations are held at Bristol City Museum.
Acton Court is believed to be the most ‘original’ Tudor house in Britain. In order to maintain the integrity of the building, as far as possible, it has been left in its original state. The empty house has a mysterious beauty that we have tried to preserve. Due to the fragile nature of the construction, only small, escorted groups can view the rooms at any one time. The house is a Grade I Listed Building and both house and grounds are Scheduled Ancient Monuments, which ensures that no digging or building can take place without permission and that the site is preserved for future generations to enjoy.
In the 16th Century, Acton Court had grand and extensive formal gardens. Today, the garden and grounds are part of the Scheduled Monument and as such are subject to limitations regarding works: digging especially is discouraged. Natural meadows that support native wildlife species have proved to be a good solution for the site. Head Gardener, Nic Jones cultivates a walled wildflower meadow and orchard, Old English and wild roses. He has also created an organic kitchen garden on medieval lines, which produces quality vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs. The remaining 12 acres of grounds are managed as meadow and rough grassland which supports the owl population and the breeding barn owls in particular. Numerous native species of grasses and plants, some now quite rare in the UK, are featured and especially types that would have flourished in Tudor times.
Acton Court is an organic site and Soil Association Certified. Occasionally, fresh produce is available to visitors.
Hawks and Owls
The meadows and rough grassland at Acton Court provide a good habitat and hunting ground for birds of prey and other wildlife species. The building is a favoured breeding site for Barn Owls and sometimes Little Owls and Hawks. A wide variety of song birds, butterflies, moths and bats frequent the site. We are associated with the Hawk and Owl Trust and their volunteers work at Acton Court on a regular basis to try and maintain the ecological integrity of the fields that surround the house.
In the grounds, visitors can see full-sized cast-iron sculptures of the pigs and cows that would have supplied the kitchens in Tudor times. These are the work of acclaimed British sculptress Dido Crosby, who has also created an owl sculpture that hangs in the entrance building.
The Bees at Acton Court
Dan and Ursula have been the resident beekeepers at Acton Court since 2012, where they have steadily built up the number of bee colonies to create a strong and productive apiary.
The bees are key to the seasonal cycle at Acton Court where they pollinate the orchard during the spring to ensure the trees produce maximum fruit, then moving onto the wild flower meadow during the summer months to cross-pollinate and help maintain the bio-diversity.
If you spot a honey bee on your visit to the Acton Court grounds, there is a good chance it is a resident bee working hard to collect nectar to make honey whilst helping keep the gardens healthy.
During the summer season with prior arrangement, Dan will give a talk about the bees and accompany a small group (of 3 to 4 people) on a visit to the hives, where the bees can be seen in an observation area.
|Protective bee suits will be provided|