Great Fosters in Egham, is a beautiful sixteenth century mansion, surrounded by vast parkland and immaculate gardens. It is only a forty minute train ride from London Waterloo Station and a great place to enjoy afternoon tea or lunch with a friend. Luckily a friend of mine lives just around the corner which made for a great excuse to enjoy lunch as well as afternoon tea on two different occasions. Not far from Virginia Water and Windsor it also makes for a lovely weekend destination with elegant, individually decorated rooms.
The formal gardens of Great Fosters are simply stunning – the knot garden was originally designed by W H Romaine Walker and Gilbert Jenkins in the 1920s – with perfectly manicured yew hedges, lilac flowers statues and a small fountain, it is meant to reflect the complexity and beauty of a Persian carpet.
A highlight of the gardens certainly is the rose garden with pink roses and lilac flowers in abundance!
Great Fosters offers two restaurants on site, The Estate Grill and The Tudor Room. We decided to have lunch ‘al fresco’ at the more informal Estate Grill that provides locally sourced ingredients, many of which are freshly picked from their gardens.
From our table we overlooked the moat and wisteria-draped bridge that leads to the sunken rose garden.
We ordered a basked of freshly baked focaccia and sourdough bread.
From the menu guests can order many small dishes rather then just one big main dish. It was a hot day when we visited and I therefore only ordered two small dishes which were equally delicious. For ‘starters’ I had king oyster ‘risotto’ chives which had a lovely creamy consistency. Surprisingly it was prepared without rice – only mushrooms which worked really well!
For mains I opted for the Poached lamb, peas, broad beans, wild garlic which was served on beautiful stoneware.
As I have mentioned, we have visited Great Fosters twice on two different occasions. The first one was for afternoon tea which was a real treat and was what prompted us to visit for lunch only a few weeks later! The great reason for this was a little voucher that came with the afternoon tea – a free glass of champagne with lunch. Well who could say no to that 😉 I have to admit we are rather easily persuaded.
At each visit we thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the 50 acres of gardens and parkland before and after our culinary experiences. There is a lot to discover from a vast lake, bee hives to a tranquil lily pond.
We also walked all the way to the kitchen garden and greenhouse.
and said hello to the pigs opposite that loved hiding in their little tin house and rolling in a mud hole.
It was fantastic to visit the estate during the summer months, when the gardens are at their peak. However, the inside of Great Fosters is also most impressive, decorated with dark Jacobean panelling and a big fireplace that is lit during the colder month – might just be another great excuse to come back later on this year!