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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

 

Opening times are on our information line – 01460 221290 (24-hr)

You can email us at info@fordeabbey.co.uk

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

Visitors with a disability and their essential carers are entitled to a half-price concessionary admission rate on Gardens tickets.

We have tried to make Forde Abbey as accessible as possible to people with disabilities, given the obvious restraints of a listed house and garden.

Arrival and Car Parking Facilities

 

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

The car park is level and tarmacked.

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

Dogs are allowed into the grounds on short leads, with water bowls provided at the Gift Shop and the Abbey Coffee Shop entrance.

Only assistance dogs are welcome in the House.

Shaded parking areas available should you wish to leave the dogs in the car.

Dedicated coach park is also available.

 

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 to the Abbey is through the Gift Shop. It has wide aisles so that wheelchairs and electric buggies can be used.

The Gift Shop is staffed during open hours 10.30am – 5pm (last entry at 4) and assistance gladly given to reach items on high shelving.

The Gift Shop is carpeted throughout.

A mobility scooter is available for hire (on first come, first serve basis). There is a charge of £5 to use the scooter for the day. This can be pre-booked by calling the Gift Shop on 01460 221699. There is a form with Terms & Conditions that must be filled and signed by the user hiring the scooter.

The Gift 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 wheelchair access.

Lighting in the shop is a combination of natural and diffused electric lighting.

 

The House

 

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

Entrance to the house is 250m away from the main entrance at the Gift Shop. The doorway into the house 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.

Pushchairs are not permitted in the House, but can be stored in a pushchair holding area at the House Entrance.

An automated computer presentation (approx. 30 minutes) is available in the Great Hall showing the upstairs rooms for those unable to climb the stairs.

Large printed cards are available in every room with information about the respective room.

Visitors with sight impairment are allowed to use their sense of 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.

All indoor areas are non-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.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the listed building and the location of the WCs they are not accessible to visitors coming just to visit the Gift Shop or the Nursery.

Accessible unisex disabled 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.

 

Coffee Shop

 

The Coffee Shop is located in the main building and is only accessible to visitors going to the House and Gardens. 

Large Coffee shop 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 are moveable.  Plenty of outdoor seating are is available.

The menu comprises of coffee, tea, cakes and light bites.

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

Clearly marked gluten-free and vegetarian options are available.

Lighting is a combination of natural and diffused electric light.

 

Conference and Meeting Rooms

 

All rooms available for private hire are accessible by wheelchairs

 

Attractions

 

The Eeles Pottery Exhibition is usually open (11.30am – 5pm) when the House and Gardens are open. The floor in this area 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.

Gift Shop staff will supply a map of the garden showing paths suitable for wheelchairs — these paths include slopes and a mixture of surfaces and gradients. A fit person will be needed for pushing any pushchair or wheelchair around the gardens. 

Our mobility scooter is suitable for all surfaces and gradients.

Seating is available around the gardens.

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

Contact Information

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

Telephone:
 01460 221290 (information line, 24-hour)
01460 220231 (Office) Mon-Fri, 9am – 5pm

Email:
info@fordeabbey.co.uk

website: www.fordeabbey.co.uk

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

Hours of operation:
Gardens:   10.30am – 5 pm (last entry at 4) March – October.
House:   12 noon- 4pm (last entry at 3.30) April – October.

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

Updated on : 01/02/2022

 

 

Historic Houses