One of Hampshire’s ‘hidden gems’ has reopened to the public after lockdown.

Houghton Lodge Gardens, near Stockbridge, began welcoming visitors back to its Grade II Listed gardens on Wednesday, July 8, with a number of safety precautions in place.

The season had been due to start on April 1, and although that means visitors have now missed the flowering of the site’s bulbs and peonies, the gardens are now in full bloom - including its stunning rose arch.

A number of steps have been implemented to keep visitors to the site safe.

These include increased car parking areas, hand sanitizing stations, social distancing markers at the entrance to the site and toilet and a one-way system round the walled garden and peacock garden.

Where possible, paths have been widened and tables, chairs and benches have been spaced out. The Summer House, Conservatory and Grotto will remain closed to the public, but the use of these can be booked for private ‘bubble parties’ to allow friends and families to reunite in beautiful surroundings in the evenings when the gardens are closed.

Sophie Busk, owner at Houghton Lodge Gardens, said: “We have taken our time to try and ensure that our gardens and grounds are safe for everyone who visits and who works here.

“The gardens are looking amazing and we can’t wait to share them with you. Everyone has worked so hard to keep them looking lovely during lockdown.

“Our pear tree was awarded Champion Tree status by the Tree Register last year but no one has been able to come and see it! We look forward to welcoming you back and sharing the gardens with you again.”

The Gardens and Honesty Tearoom will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am until 4.30pm after being awarded ‘We’re good to go’ status by Visit England, an industry standard and consumer mark to reassure customers that the attraction adheres to government and public health guidance.

Entry to the Garden is by pre-booked advance ticket, with a restriction on daily numbers to ensure the health and safety of both staff and visitors. To aid with social distancing, visitors will need to pre book an entry slot. There will be no entry to the garden without a pre booked ticket.

The Honesty Tea Room will be open for people who wish to take refreshments, without access to the garden. They will be offering freshly baked bread, pastries, cakes and light lunch options.