It is many years since I visited Cannizaro Park – and that was for an open-air summer concert, so I didn’t really explore the park which probably is at its best in the spring when the magnificent collection of azaleas and rhododendrons is in full bloom.
On arriving at the house you discover the Millennium Fountain by Richard Rome funded as part of the support for public art by the Constance Fund in collaboration with the Royal Society of Sculptors. The park beyond is a remnant of the estate of the 18th century Warren House and gained its name after the Sicilian Count St Antonio and his Scottish wife Sophia who leased the house from 1817 and inherited the title of the Duke of Cannizarro in 1832.
The house itself was badly destroyed by fire in the early 20th century and was rebuilt in the 1920′s, with further more recent alterations when it became a Hotel du Vin, at the moment closed due to the health situation.
While the basic layout of the original gardens remains, the owners of the estate in the 1940′s planted new trees and extensive areas of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, which are one of the main features throughout the park and, although coming to the end of the season, were still a blaze of colours.
In addition to the extensive woodlands, there are a number of different gardens such as the Italian Garden, the Rose Garden and the Herb Garden, with flower beds in the gardens used as a backcloth for weddings in happier times awaiting summer planting, plus a modern neo-Gothick aviary.
Over the years, notable visitors to the house and gardens included members of the royal family, Lord Tennyson, Oscar Wilde and Henry James, and today it continues to provide a pleasant natural environment for local people to enjoy.