The Ackland family purchased the Killerton estate (2,590 hectares/6,400 acres) in the early 1600s and passed it to the National Trust in 1944. On visiting today, one sees an extensive designed landscape with a comparatively small ornamental garden close to the house. It was John Veitch, of the famous Veitch Nursery family, who laid out the gardens originally and they continue to feature rhododendrons, magnolias and a range of interesting trees.
The house looks out over the extensive landscape while there is a small area of ornamental garden both in front and extending to the side of the house. This area is raised giving excellent views to the grounds beyond though this is somewhat marred by the number of picnic tables scattered about (removed in my photographs with the help of Photoshop!). The leaflet, received on purchase of entrance tickets, features places to discover, extensive woodland walks with a special welcome for dog owners. There is a small shop, plant sales and cafe.
The house was used to accommodate evacuated children during the Second World War and Front Park was their games area. This continues today with visitors encouraged to engage in rounders, tennis or football in front of the house. I imagine it is a wonderful location for the local population but I felt it detracted from the garden and from the enjoyment of the gardening tourist.
It is not a garden I would suggest for anybody’s “must-see” list but it will pass an hour pleasantly if you are passing – north of Exeter in Devon. I visited in early August of this year.