On my many Camino practice walks during this year I had occasion to walk along the clifftop between Ramsgate and Broadstairs and although I see the signs pointing to the Italian castle, I usually ignore it since my walks are usually quite focused and I don’t divert from my path.
But a few weeks ago while on a leisurely stroll I decided to heed the sign and headed off into the trees. I had no idea what to expect, but to my absolute delight I discovered a hidden gem of Ramsgate; The Italianate Greenhouse.
Stepping out of the trees, there before me was a totally unexpected sight; an ethereal-looking greenhouse that dates from the 19th century and appears to grow out of the castellated red-brick wall behind it. Erected in the grounds of East Cliff Lodge in 1832 by Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) who saw the structure in an auction catalogue and bought it, it was originally part of Bretton Hall in Yorkshire.
Constructed of cast iron curving ribs, the greenhouse is covered with fish-scale glass panes. Not very big, it houses an amazing collection of plants, of which the rather marvellous grapevine is certainly an attraction!!
The Greenhouse was recently the focus of attention when one of the Mexican Agave plants, after reaching 30ft bloomed for the first time. Apparently this only happens once every 100 years, so as you can imagine folks visited from far and wide to see this extraordinary event.
On the day of my visit, things were a little calmer and besides a family of 5 enjoying afternoon tea in the weakening sunshine, and a volunteer who was trimming the grass edges, I was quite alone to explore and enjoy. The garden is a delight.
The Greenhouse is a Grade II* listed building and opens at certain times of the year, mostly in summer, for viewing and a chance to relax in the Tea Garden. For more information visit http://new.italianateglasshouse.co.uk/ The area through which you can reach the greenhouse is now known as King George VI Memorial Park.
The volunteers on site were very friendly and helpful and gave me an impromptu guided tour 😉
How to get there:
Access to the greenhouse and park is from either Montefiore Avenue or on the sea-side from Victoria Parade. It’s 50 meters away from the Montefiore Avenue entrance and a short stroll across the park from Victoria Parade.
The Tea Garden is open on fine weather summer days from approx 10.30am Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays. The Greenhouse is open between 9am – 5pm weekdays from 1 April to 30 September. Enquiries: 07868722060.