THE gardens at the former home of the Duchess of Cornwall, thought to be where Prince Charles asked Lady Diana Spencer for her hand in marriage, were opened up to the public at the weekend.

Crowds flocked to see the grounds of the historic Bolehyde Manor, in Allington, near Chippenham, on Sunday, where the newly married Andrew and Camilla Parker Bowles made their home in 1973.

It is popularly believed it was in the vegetable garden of the manor, now home to the Earl and Countess Cairns, that Prince Charles proposed to his first wife.

His second wife has a long-standing connection to Wiltshire and lived in the county for 30 years.

Speaking just before her marriage to Prince Charles last year, the Duchess said: "I just love Wiltshire. I grew up by the sea, so I really do miss it, but this is a wonderful place. There is so much to do and the countryside is glorious."

The Duchess had two children with her former husband, Tom, born in 1974 and Laura, who is five years younger.

The family lived at Bolehyde until they divorced in 1995, when it was sold to former Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

The Duchess then moved to the £850,000 Georgian property, Raymill House, next door to her parents at Raymill, near Lacock.

The royal family returned to Lacock last month as Laura Parker Bowles, 27, married former Calvin Klein model turned accountant Harry Lopes, at St Cyriac's Church.

Bolehyde has always attracted interest both for its connections to the royal family and its beautiful grounds, which are opened to the public just once a year through the National Gardens Scheme (NGS), Gardens Open Day for Charity, of which Prince Charles is the patron.

Brigadier Arthur Gooch, county organiser for the NGS, said: "It went very well. I visited myself and there were lots of people there.

"It is a lovely garden and people like to go there."

The open day was raising money for a host of good causes including Macmillan Cancer Relief, Marie Curie Cancer Care, the Royal Gardener's Orphans Fund and The Nurses Welfare Service.

Teas and light refreshments were also served to raise funds for the village church.