LOWER Froyle folk were out in force at the weekend to welcome 800 visitors to their open gardens – while at St Mary’s Church, in Upper Froyle, beautiful 18th Century vestments were on display.

In perfect weather, eight gardens offering a variety of designs and plants were on display ranging from cottage style to one created from homegrown bedding plants.

Hot sunshine and no rain ensured that walking around the village was a pleasure and the money raised at the garden gates, plus the teas – last year it topped £5,000 – will go toward National Garden Scheme charities.

Brenda Millan, the village’s garden scheme co-ordinator, said Froyle had been opening its gardens for 20 years and this was one of the best seasons for flowers and shrubs that she could remember.

“Everything is blooming, which I think is due to the fact we have had heat as well as rain, and the roses are particularly lovely,” she said.

“We had eight gardens on display, two of them newcomers, and this year they were all in Lower Froyle, which made it easier for the visitors to get round. Although next year we would like some from Upper Froyle as well.”

Another highlight were the teas being served in the village hall and organiser Susie Robertson made sure there was a good supply of delicious homemade cakes, baked by ladies of the village.

“The whole village gets to work for the open weekend,” said Mrs Millan.

“And we are hoping this year we may have made a record and topped the £6,000 that was raised one year.”

Visitors also converged on the parish church to see the beautiful French and Italian vestments made in the 18th Century and famed for their beautiful embroidery. They were collected in 1900 by Sir Hubert Miller, owner of the Froyle Estate, who loved to travel and spent a lot of time in Venice.

One of the Froyle Vestment Group, who care for the vestments, usually kept under lock and key, is Madeleine Black, who said: “We attract a lot of people who embroider and they enjoy looking at the 18th Century designs and stitching, some of it woven with gold, and the money raised goes toward the care and upkeep of the vestments.”

The gardens that were opened were Day Cottage, Warren Cottage, Walbury, Bramblings, Glebe Cottage, Ford’s Cottage, and 6 Coldrey Cottages.