Ralph Allen Drive
Somerset BA2 5AH
This beautiful 28 acre (11 hectare), 18th century garden was created by local Bath entrepreneur and philanthropist, Ralph Allen to complement his Palladian mansion built at the top of the hill.
Allen commissioned John Wood the Elder to design and build a mansion out of Bath stone. Ralph Allen owned the stone quarries which produced this lovely cream-coloured local stone and the mansion was to be built as an advertisement for this business interest.
The mansion was built between 1735 and 1750; it took so long because Ralph Allen quarrelled with John Wood and the project was left to be completed by his Clerk of Works.
The stunning building is not open to the public as it is now a private college. The grounds tumble down the hill to the old village of Widcombe whose church is the final feature in the vista.
Ralph Allen sought advice from poet Alexander Pope who was a great fan of the high profile landscape gardener ‘Capability’ Brown'. Lancelot 'Capability' Brown designed a stunning garden which was completed in 1764. It has all his trademark features and is now owned by the National Trust.
The garden’s dramatic setting in a steep, sweeping valley gives magnificent views of Bath. The garden is a ‘natural’ landscape with architecture. At the centre of the garden is a shallow green valley where cows and occasionally wild deer graze. A grassy slope drops from the mansion to a series of small lakes and at the bottom of the valley is the Serpentine Lake and Cascade.
The gem of this garden is the splendid ornamental Palladian Bridge. This bridge is one of only four examples in the world. Hidden in the woods and Wilderness area are a Gothic Temple, a grotto and an ice house. Stone masonry students of the City of Bath College have been involved in the restoration of these buildings.
There are several ways to enjoy the garden - just sit on the grass overlooking the elegant bridge, enjoy the views and have a picnic or be more active and stroll around the Park discovering its hidden attractions.
Bath Skyline Walk
The six mile (9.7 km) long Bath Skyline Walk, famous for its spectacular views over the city, can be accessed from the park. This is a circular walk around the city heights. It passes woodlands and meadows, an Iron Age hill fort, Roman settlement sites and 18th century follies.
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here: External Link
Plan Your Visit
Prior Park is a National Trust Property therefore National Trust members have free entry.
For entry costs for non National Trust members go to:
National Trust/ Prior Park Entry Information External Link
Contact & Further Information
National Trust/ Prior Park Landscape Garden External Link
As Prior Park is a green tourism site, there is disabled car parking only.
+44 (0)1225 833 422 to book disabled parking
Refer the Prior Park National Trust website for detailed directions
National Trust/ Prior Park Getting There External Link
- By Bus: Buses run regularly from the city centre. Catch the no. 1 bus (FirstGroup bus company) from Dorchester Street. The bus runs every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 45 minutes on Sundays. Alight from the bus just in font of the Prior Park Landscape Garden entrance gate.
You can also catch the red City Sightseeing bus (Skyline route) from various locations in the city centre: Manvers Street, Terrace Walk, North Parade and Great Pulteney Street. Alight at Stop Q - Prior Park.
- On Foot: 1 mile (1.6 km) very steep uphill walk from rear of railway station: Cross river, pass Widecombe shopping parade, turn right onto Prior Park Road at White Hard Pub, proceed uphill, garden on left.
Kennet & Avon Canal path ¾ mile (1.2 km)
Google Maps - Prior Park Landscape Garden