Howick Hall. Tea with Earl Grey.

During our holiday in England we stayed near Howick Hall, the house of Earl Grey. (Alnwick)

As you may know, Earl Grey has become famous for the tea wearing his name. This tea was specially blended by a Chinese Mandarin for Earl Grey himself, to suit the water at Howick Hall, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it. Lady Grey used the tea in London and it proved popular. Later Twinings came to the market with it and now it is sold worldwide. Because Earl Grey is also my favourite tea, we could not miss to visit his house and garden.

The house shows a little grim, but the tearoom in the wing of the house is spacious and light. We order Earl Grey tea and of course also some scones too. Delicious!

Entering the garden, you immediately notice there has been a long tradition in the family as gardeners and tree planters. Around the house are many borders with masses of flowers. A mega-long border with different Agapanthus species blooms exuberantly in blue. The gardener who is working there, tells me that the Agapanthus was planted way back in 1950. Many names of the different Agapanthus species are lost, but the family does not care. I ponder how many plant tags I have lost already …... and feel supported.

On the estate there is a long footpath from the garden to the sea. To make sure that none of Earl Grey's children were frightened of the dark, at the first full moon in July after their tenth birthday they were made to walk down the Long Walk to the sea at midnight and bring back to him a flower of Parnassus, which only grew in one spot at the cliff.

My husband and I too walk the 1½ mile Long Walk to the sea. Whilst walking I think what it would feel like for a child of 10 in the dark. The rustling grass, cracking trees, shadows, sounds of animals ..... all alone!!!

At last we arrive at an iron one-way revolving gate. If we want to go all the way to the sea (and the cliffs) we will have to go through this gate.  However, we are warned if we go through this gate we cannot go back up the Long Walk into the garden. We look at each other…..

The door squeaks as we pass, and up we go further over the narrow path. Suddenly …... a beautiful bay. There is the sea!

We return back to the parking of the garden by the coastal path. A little tired we take place in the tearoom and order tea again. Without scones this time. Earl Grey's portrait looks at us from above the fireplace.

He will be satisfied. We have completed the whole walk!

Agapanthus border.

Beautiful combination, Scabiosa and Perovskia.

A grim house......

..... and a lovely informal border.

Look at that view!

The bog garden. Wild and stunning.

Many rare trees along the Long Walk. (Dipteronia sinensis)

The one-way gate.

A narrow path.......

...... finally the sea!

Earl Grey, we have had a fantastic day at Howick Hall.


  1. This garden is wonderful!!!I love it..and the sea!

  2. So lovely, Hetty.
    Thanks for sharing at

  3. Dear Hetty,
    your pictures are beautiful! I love the garden and also the house you call grim. I love such old looking houses! Regarding the Agapanthus, on my England vacation I also saw Agapanthus plants planted in borders. This is something I don´t know from Austria, as here Agapanthus is sold as a non winter hardy plant as the winters in Austria are colder than in England. However, yesterday, I went to a big plant show and exhibition in Austria and there Agapanthus plants were sold that are supposedly winter hardy also in my cold climate. They were sold as tubers and I bought two tubers as I thought it would be worth a try. Do you have any experience with planting Agapanthus in your garden? Would be lovely if it were to work.
    Best wishes,

    1. Dear Lisa, Yes, I grow agapanthus in the garden. I have to admit gardening close to the sea is different to Austria. The climate is milder. In your case I would give it a try to plant them right away in the soil. Go for an experiment Lisa and let us know next year how the experiment ended. Groetjes Hetty

    2. Thank you Hetty! I will try it. I hope it works!
      Best wishes,


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