• Life’s a Picnic: Where to enjoy the very best English sparkling picnic with Searcys

    11 June 2021

    Enjoy the glorious outdoors in the stunning setting of Blenheim Palace parkland or Exbury Gardens.

    National Picnic Week takes place from 19-27 June 2021 – the perfect excuse to explore two of the UK’s most stunning historical gardens, while allowing Searcys to do the work for you when it comes to making a delicious picnic. Both Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire – the birthplace of Winston Churchill and one of the finest palaces in the country – and Exbury Gardens in Hampshire – an acclaimed botanical garden with 200 acres of woodland – have launched new picnic offerings as the summer season begins.

    Picnicking: The practice of an elegant meal eaten out-of-doors

    The word ‘picnic’ comes from the French word pique-nique, first mentioned in print in 1692. Picnicking didn’t really take off in France until after the French Revolution in 1789, however, when ordinary people were allowed to visit and mingle in the country’s royal parks for the first time. In England, it was the Victorians who popularized the art of the picnic. They packed all sorts of wonderful foods in their wicker baskets, elaborate affairs overflowing with sandwiches and pork pies, fruit salads and homemade lemonade. Simplicity was not their strong point, as can be seen in suggestions for a picnic for forty people in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1861. The menu comprises six medium-sized lobsters, two roast ducks, whole joints of beef and ham, two shoulders of lamb and myriad other salads, biscuits and pies. 122 bottles of drink are called for – plus Champagne. In the 1920s and 30s, picnics became even more elaborate, with the likes of Harrods and Fortnum & Masons building entire departments for hampers.

    Here at Searcys, we like to do picnics properly. With hospitality at our core for the last 170+ years, we’re not likely to cut corners when it comes to such a beloved British tradition. So, to celebrate National Picnic Week, here are our two newly launched picnic offerings. Think British cheeses, scones, cakes and hearty salads, washed down with our own Searcys Cuvée Champagne.

    Exbury

    In the heart of Hampshire, Exbury Gardens is the epitome of a stunning horticultural oasis. The gardens have more than a century of history, with an old-fashioned steam train and 200 acres of magical woodland full of picnicking spots. In the summer months, the Iris, Herbaceous, Sundial and Centenary Gardens are all in bloom, with herbaceous perennials and exotic flowers. Other highlights in the gardens include the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees and shrubs.

    Blenheim Palace

    A UNESCO heritage site widely described as ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace,’ Blenheim is indeed a masterpiece of 18th Century architecture. Still home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family, the palace is surrounded by over 90 acres of formal gardens, and more than 2,000 acres of beautiful parkland.

    It was Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Sir Winston, who reportedly came up with the phrase ‘the finest view in England’ to sum up the famous vista which encompasses the Queen Pool, the iconic Vanbrugh Bridge and the magnificent 18th century Palace.

    His wife, who was pregnant with Winston at the time, later recalled: “As we passed through the entrance archway and the lovely scenery burst upon me, Randolph said with pardonable pride: ‘This is the finest view in England’.” 

    The Searcys Picnics

    Once you’ve enjoyed strolling around the stately homes and gardens, settle down to enjoy a thoroughly delicious picnic prepared on-site by our chefs, and delivered in bespoke jute bags. On the menu you’ll find a classic Ploughman’s, with a selection of British cheeses and grapes, Wiltshire ham and pickles, an English garden salad, Farmhouse bread and butter and carrot cake. For the vegetarian option, an ancient grain farro tabbouleh salad and feta cheese, vegetable quiche, crudités, hummus and chocolate brownie will tempt those desiring something a little healthier. And if you’re going all out (we don’t blame you!), opt for our afternoon tea picnic, with assorted finger sandwiches, pork and apple ‘stubbie’ rolls, triple chocolate brownie, carrot cake and scones, clotted cream & strawberry jam.

    Choose from the following three options:

    Searcys summer picnic: £29.50 for two people. Choose a bento box per person from the menu below – Ploughman’s, Vegetarian or Afternoon Tea. Comes with two 250ml bottles of water.

    Searcys sparkling summer picnic £69.50 for two people. Choose a bento box per person from the menu below – Ploughman’s, Vegetarian or Afternoon Tea. Comes with a bottle of Searcys selected cuvée Champagne and two 250ml bottles of water.

    Grande Marque summer picnic £99 for two people. Choose a bento box per person from the menu below – Ploughman’s, Vegetarian or Afternoon Tea. Comes with a bottle of Moet et Chandon Imperial Brut (Exbury Gardens) or Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut (Blenheim Palace), a bottle stopper and acrylic branded Champagne glasses. Also includes two 250ml bottles of water.

    Your order should be collected on the day of your visit, between 12.00 until 16.00 from:

    – Exbury Gardens at Mr Eddy’s Café

    – Blenheim Palace at Oxfordshire Pantry Café in the Visitor Centre.

    To book, please visit:

    Exbury: https://searcys-events.giftpro.co.uk/events/a-summer-picnic-at-exbury-gardens/

    Blenheim: https://searcys-events.giftpro.co.uk/events/a-summer-picnic-at-blenheim-palace/