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Cricket St Thomas to be re-opened after transformation
Cricket St Thomas estate
The estate was once the fictional home of Mr Blobby

The historic gardens of Cricket St Thomas near Chard are set to be officially opened after a £300,000 refurbishment project.

The Grade II-listed estate has been transformed from a wildlife park and returned to its former state.

The work, which included draining seven manmade lakes on the 160-acre estate, started at the end of 2009.

Smaller animals from the wildlife park, which closed last year, are still on the estate including lemurs and deer.

Tamarind monkeys also remain, and are living 'free-range' in the trees.

The larger animals, which included camels and leopards, have been permanently re-homed in zoos and wildlife parks.

Cricket St Thomas Hotel gardens
The first mention of a manor house at Cricket St Thomas was in 1313
House burnt down or was demolished in late 18th century
In 1786 Rear Admiral Hood commissioned John Soane (later Sir John Soane) one of England's foremost architects to draw up plans to enlarge "Cricket Lodge"
In 1814 Lord Bridport transformed the estate by adding a little river, thus creating the present chain of lakes
In 1967 Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park was opened
In 1994 the gardens were briefly the home of Mr Blobby and Crinkley Bottom
In 2009 the Wildlife Park was closed with many of the larger animals re-homed

The gardens and grounds cover some 160 acres and were originally created in the 19th century by the second Lord Bridport.

Among features created were the chain of lakes and cascades, formed by damming a small river that runs through a valley, as well as several ornamental gardens.

Today, lawns of the country mansion still feature large cedars under which Lord Nelson and his mistress Lady Hamilton are believed to have spent many happy hours.

Among the new features include a grotto garden designed by Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner Kate Gould and a rose garden maze in the shape of a rose bud.

The main entrance features a large new water feature by Richard Mercer and the beginnings of what will be a new wildflower garden.

The grounds also hold a collection of bronze statues by local sculptor John Robinson.

General manager Ian Gyte said: "The new lakes and gardens are a stunning testament to the long heritage of Cricket St Thomas whilst taking the gardens firmly into the 21st century."

The gardens will be officially opened at a special ceremony held on Friday.

Tourism park to lose its animals
18 Sep 09 |  Somerset


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