The family behind a popular house in Ellesmere that opens once-a-year for a national event says a change to the timings because of Covid-19 felt unusual.

Oteley House, which has gardens leading to The Mere in Ellesmere, opened last weekend for visitors to take in its surroundings as part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

Hundreds of people visited the property, with social distancing and track-and-trace measures all in place, with Clare Mainwaring, who helped organise the day, delighted with how it went.

“The house is owned by my father-in-law Robert Mainwaring – we just help out and organise the NGS open day,” she said.

“The gardens do and don’t need much doing around the year. We try to keep things going all year round but there’s a few last minute things top do even when we think we have everything under control.

“Things like the grass needing an other cut.

“We usually open up for the scheme in May which is better for the garden as there are more colours and the rhododendrons are looking great.

“Plus the shrubs are also looking good.

“It was different to open up in September but we knew it was a chance to raise money for some very important charities.

“But it made sense to open the gardens up because people were naturally socially-distanced.”

Clare added that it was important to see so many people from Ellesmere and its immediate surrounding villages at the house for the NGS open day.

And she thanked all those who gave them support.

She added: “It was nice to give people the chance to see the gardens at a different time in the year.

“The hardest part is the oldest parts of the garden but we work hard to make sure they are looked after.

“We worked hard to open up but the NGS were brilliant too.

“They did all the track and trace requirements so all we had to do was take tickets, meaning people didn’t need to leave their cars.

“We have been open virtually every year since the first year in 1927.

“I would like to thank all the people who paid to come to the house and too all the volunteers on the day too.”

More than £3,000 was raised on the day.