Stody was originally part of the Blickling Estate, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book and was home to the Marquis of Lothian and birthplace of Henry VIII’s second (and beheaded) wife, Anne Boleyn.
Stody’s first incarnation was part of the Blickling Estate, home to the Marquis of Lothian and birthplace of Henry VIII’s second (and beheaded) wife, Anne Boleyn. It was the husband of a later Lady Lothian, Ernest Horsfall, who lay the foundations of Stody’s horticultural future. In a project lasting 25 years, Horsfall cleared and planted a ‘dark and boggy’ area next to the original Lodge. His efforts culminated in the Azalea Water Gardens, which you can still see today
But the Lodge together with the gardens was commissioned in 1932 by Lord Rorthermere, newspaper magnate, best known as owner of the Daily Mail. Today it is the home of the MacNicol family, who bought it from him in 1941.
The house is not open to the public, but the gardens are on selected days throughout May. These gardens, which spread over more than 14 acres are among the finest in England. And you can bring your dog.
Largely unchanged from the original layout in 1932, the gardens’ leading attractions are its rhododendrons and azaleas. Among the different areas of this extensive venue, you’ll also find numerous magnolias and camellias, as well as mature and specimen trees and an orchard.
May, when the doors are opened to visitors, is when the gardens really come into their own. The signature flowers are in full bloom at this time, and bring out in Stody the kind of beauty that you always imagine on a country estate. The phrase “riot of colour” is pretty clichéd, but it fits for this estate. Even non-gardeners are taken aback by it all.
The afternoon teas here are a big draw for visitors. The owners will invite in various charities to provide these traditional teas, raising a lot of money in the process for good causes.
Stody Lodge shows hints of the Art Deco movement which had gripped architecture in the early 20th century. Its gleaming white front and tall windows convey a sense of wealth and exuberance, especially in the May sunshine. Such immaculate grounds bring to mind the great neoclassical estates of 18th-century England (also worth a visit).
In May children can look forward to treasure hunts, dog shows, face-painting and, most importantly, ice cream. Recently the children’s event day has included a ‘young talent awards’, where you can see art created by pupils from local primary schools.
Stody Lodge is also a centre for farming and renewable energy generation. The estate also works in collaboration with Natural England to protect habitats for flora and fauna. In short, Stody Lodge is where manicured gardens complement living nature.