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Forde Abbey and Gardens – Access Statement

Forde Abbey is a beautiful former Cistercian monastery and has been a family home since 1649. It is surrounded by 30 acres of award-winning gardens. We aim to ensure that all visitors, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities, are able to enjoy as many aspects as possible of the visitor experience at Forde Abbey within the constraints of a Grade One listed building and garden. To that end we continually strive to find ways of circumventing the physical barriers imposed by a medieval building.

Please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or assistance – we are always happy to help.

Pre-Arrival

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

E-mail available (please see contact section at the bottom of the page)

Website with opening times, prices, facilities and access statement.

Opening times and prices on the information line on: 01460 221290 (24-hour)

Large print versions of the opening times etc may be posted by calling 01460 220231 during office hours.

There is no public transport within one mile of Forde Abbey.

Admission is free to those in wheelchairs and to those registered blind.

Arrival and Car Parking Facilities

 

Ample free parking within the grounds with dedicated disabled parking spaces 10m from the entrance.

The upper car park is level and mostly tarmac, with some compacted gravel; the lower car park is mostly tarmac with some compacted gravel, and there is a slight slope to the entrance, together with grass around the exterior and in the picnic area

There is an accessible coach drop-off point 50 metres from the entrance although coaches may allow passengers to alight nearer the entrance

Dogs are allowed into the grounds on short leads, with water bowls provided at the Tearoom. We do not like visitors to leave dogs in the car

Shaded parking areas available, some on grass

Dedicated coach park

 

Main Entrance and Reception

 

Main entrance is mostly level with small ledges at doorways. These do not impede wheelchairs or frames.

Main entrance doorway is 80cm wide and can be widened further on request.

Entrances to the Plant Centre and the Gardens are both 100cm wide.

The sales counter is 90cm high.

Entrance also acts as a Gift Shop with wide aisles so that wheelchairs and electric buggies can be used.

The Shop is staffed during opening hours (10am-5pm daily from Easter-October and other advertised times) and assistance gladly given to reach high objects.

The Shop is carpeted throughout.

A mobility scooter and wheelchair are available for hire and may be booked by calling the Shop on 01460 221699. There is a charge of £2 for use of the mobility scooter.

The Shop staff are able to give full training in the use of the mobility scooter and will supply a map of the garden showing paths suitable for wheelchairs.

The Shop staff are happy to advise any less-able visitor on easier routes and to supply a copy of the map to take around the garden.

Lighting is a combination of natural and diffused electric light.

We regret that there is currently no hearing loop.

 

The House

 

The House is spread over two floors with no wheelchair access to the upper floor.

Entrance to the house is 250m from the main entrance and Shop. The doorway is slightly uneven and is 95cm wide.

30 stairs (with wells allowing rests) up to the first floor. The staircase is 170cm wide with a secure handrail.

36 stairs (with wells allowing rests and a chair at the halfway point) to the ground floor again. This staircase is 120cm wide with a secure handrail.

Along the house route there is an additional set of 6 stone steps without a handrail.

Completely automated computer presentation in the Great Hall showing the upstairs rooms for those unable to climb the stairs.

Large print room cards available.

Visitors with sight impairment allowed to use touch to explore the house.

Easily identifiable chairs for people to rest on throughout the house.

Lighting is a combination of natural and diffused electric light although some rooms use low lighting to protect tapestries.

We regret that there is currently no hearing loop.

All indoor public areas are no smoking. There are ash bins provided outside each entrance.

Public Areas – WC

 

WCs approximately 100 metres from the main entrance along mostly level loose gravel and tarmac paths. There is one steeply sloped area negotiable by wheelchairs.

Accessible unisex WC available. The WC is 46cm high with horizontal handrails at a height of 75cm. One of these is able to be raised to allow greater freedom of movement. There are additional vertical handrails behind the WC and on the adjoining wall.

Sink at height of 70cm with lever taps

Cord-operated light switch

No emergency alarm

Floor space 200cm by 180cm

Baby changing table available.

 

Tearoom

 

Large Tearoom with wide entrance of 125cm.

No steps but stone flooring is uneven in places.

75cm high oblong tables with legs at each corner.

Tables and chairs moveable.

Tearoom staff members aware of the ingredients in each of the homemade items and able to advise visitors with food intolerances.

Clearly marked gluten-free products often available.

Vegetarian options always available.

Lighting is a combination of natural and diffused electric light.

We regret that there is currently no hearing loop.

 

Conference and Meeting Rooms

 

All rooms available for private hire are accessible by wheelchairs

 

Attractions

 

Pottery Exhibition flooring is uneven in places but accessible.

Grounds and Gardens

 

There are 30 acres of gardens in a variety of styles.

The paths within the grounds are a mixture of tarmac, gravel (compacted and loose) and grass.

There are no turnstiles or revolving doors anywhere within the grounds.

Wide paths throughout the gardens for ease of use by wheelchair users — wheelchairs with bigger sturdier wheels rather than small “town” wheels will find it easier to move and manoeuvre.

Entrance staff will supply a map of the garden showing paths suitable for wheelchairs — these paths include slopes and a mixture of surfaces. Our battery car is suitable for all surfaces and gradients on the recommended route; a fit person will be needed for pushing any other wheelchair around the gardens.

Seating available around the gardens.

Paths may become slippery or uneven after rain and eg: in autumn due to fallen leaves etc.

Contact Information

Address:
Forde Abbey  House and Gardens
Forde Abbey
Chard
Somerset
TA20 4LU

Telephone:
(Information Line): 01460 221290
(Office): 01460 220231 Mon-Fri, 9am – 5pm

Email:
info@fordeabbey.co.uk

Grid reference:
002 degrees 54.50 minutes west, 50 degrees 50.40 minutes north

Hours of operation:
10am – 4.30pm (last entry)

We welcome your feedback to help us continuously improve access to Forde Abbey. If you have any comments please email info@fordeabbey.co.uk

(Our battery car is suitable for all surfaces and gradients on the recommended routes but a fit person will be needed for pushing any other wheelchair around the gardens.)