Woolbeding Gardens Midhurst

Visiting the English garden Woolbeding is not necessarily easy, however for garden lovers it is worth the effort.

Woolbeding Gardens West Sussex England

Woolbeding Gardens West Sussex England

Visiting the English garden Woolbeding is not necessarily easy, however for garden lovers it is worth the effort.

As visitor numbers are limited you need to book in advance to get into the 10 hectare garden located in West Sussex. And as there is no parking on site, you have to catch a mini bus from the car park in the nearby town of Midhurst. Furthermore the garden is only open on Thursdays and Fridays from April to September.

One of the garden rooms at Woolbeding.

One of the garden rooms at Woolbeding.

Frustration over booking our visit and then waiting for the mini-bus made me wonder, on more than one occasion, if we should find another garden to explore. However those frustrations disappeared on arrival at the property.

One of the `surprises' at Woolbeding.

One of the `surprises’ at Woolbeding.

Why Visit

The gardens are in parts beautiful and in parts rather unusual – after all not many English gardens feature a red elephant!

One of the borders

One of the borders

A little history

The garden is the work of Simon Sainsbury and Stewart Grimshaw who leased Woolbeding from the National Trust in 1972. With the help of notable garden designers Lanning Roper in the 1980s and the Bannermans in the late 1990s, they created the  garden which the public can now explore, courtesy of  National Trust management.
They also restored the property’s 17th century Elizabethan house, which is not open to the public.

The view on the Long Walk

The view on the Long Walk

What to See

The property features two distinct areas – around the house there are the more formal gardens, while across a `sheep filled’ paddock on what’s call the Long Walk is an area described as `a pleasure ground.’

The Fountain Garden

The Fountain Garden

The Formal Gardens

The garden around the home is separated into areas known as ` garden rooms’. These areas are home to a huge array of plants, trees, follies and sculptures. They include the aptly named greenhouse, well, herb, fountain, terrace, vegetable and herb gardens.
There’s also an orchid house and orangery and several borders including the west borders which follow a palette of blue, white and pale yellow.

The house with William Pye’s water feature.

The house with William Pye’s water feature.

Other Buildings

Opinion is divided on William Pye’s huge water feature in front of the house – some love it, others think it is an eye-sore. I must admit to not being a great fan but my English companions love the fact that it is modern and unexpected.

The house and church at Woolbeding Gardens.

The house and church at Woolbeding Gardens.

For me Saxon Church, which is still used today by the local community, is far more appealing.

The Chinese bridge with the ruined abbey in the background.

The Chinese bridge with the ruined abbey in the background.

The Pleasure Ground

The walk from the gardens to the more unusual parts of the garden offers views of the River Rother. The `pleasure ground’ features an array of `colorful’ structures. There’s a ruined abbey, a Chinese bridge, grotto with a river God, Gothic summerhouse, waterfalls and the red elephant.

The Summer House and waterfall.

The Summer House and waterfall.

Useful to Know

The lake at Woolbedding.

The lake at Woolbedding.

If you want to know what a particular plant is find one of the property’s gardeners – none of the plants are labelled.  Indeed visitors are encouraged to chat to the gardeners.
As you’ll probably want to spend a few hours here, there are plenty of places for a picnic. There’s also a cafe serving sandwiches and light snacks.

Gardeners are on hand to answer any questions.

Gardeners are on hand to answer any questions.

If you’re a member of any National Trust (including Australian) you are entitled to free entry (although when you make a booking they may say you have to pay – you don’t!). Otherwise entry costs €7.90 for adults and €4 for children.

One of the Follies

One of the Follies

Getting There

Woolbeding is located in Midhurst West Sussex, approximately 86 kilometres from London. The Woolbeding’s website includes details on how to get to the property and how to book.  Alternatively you can email woolbedinggardens@nationaltrust.org.uk or ring 08442491895.

Visit travelswithjb/ England for more reviews and stories about the UK.

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