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Friars Court is an unusual house in the fact that it is a moated property. The moat is thought to be at least 500 years old and partially encompasses the house and 4 acres of main gardens. It was not used as a means of defensive but was for keeping livestock out of the grounds, which were used for growing vegetables, as well as for breeding silver carp for food. The original carp ponds, which lie to the front of the house, were filled in about 1850, although a restoration project in 1999 has returned them to their original position.
Circular walks can be taken around the moat either by crossing the arched Moat Bridge by the twin Yew trees whilst a level path leads down through the South Walk and round to the Moat Ponds. An ideal route for gentle walking and wheelchair users there are 16 points of main interest; an information board at each location gives more detail on the history of the house and grounds.
A corner of the grounds is dedicated to alternative energy and there are displays showing how the wind and sun can generate electricity to be stored in batteries and used for a variety of practical applications. Nearby there is a fourteen kilowatt solar array that contributes towards the electrical requirements of the house and farm.
The gardens are under a constant phase of improvement which in recent years has seen the creation of the 'Garden of Reflection’ where a combination of trellising and mirrors create an almost maze-like sense of enclosure as well as confusing glimpses both of the viewer and of the gardens beyond. Meanwhile the 'Winterhalter' Wedding Garden has been created to provide a beautiful, romantic and nostalgic backdrop for wedding photographs, and was inspired by a painting of Franz Xavier Winterhalter (1805 – 1873).
NB The gardens are only open by appointment to pre-booked clubs and groups (minimum 20 guests) from Spring until the Autumn and includes a guided tour of the grounds. The walk takes approximately 45 minutes and is suitable for wheelchair users.