After almost ten years of neglect the historic gardens and Grade II listed mansion on the Leonardslee estate have been restored and are open to the public once again.
The huge project undertaken by owner Penny Streeter, who purchased the estate in 2017, is one of the largest UK garden restoration projects for nearly 30 years.
Penny, who also owns the nearby 400 acre Mannings Heath Golf Course and Wine Estate described how she felt on seeing the estate for the first time and why she decided to buy it. “It was a complete overgrown jungle, It had a magical feel about it and when I looked into the history of the place I was completely hooked. I realised that Leonardslee was in the hearts of everybody locally and in Sussex everybody loved the place and had been extremely distressed that they hadn’t been able to come in for so many years.”
“For me I wanted to restore it to how it was and bring everybody back in and let them enjoy it”
Now that the gardens are open the public can once again experience the amazing displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and bluebells that were collected from all over the world from the early 1800s. As well as the garden the Grade II listed 19th-century Italianate style mansion has been restored and updated. It is open for classic afternoon tea and there is also a multi-course tasting menu at Restaurant Interlude, with produce that is foraged, raised and produced on the estate and selected local farms. There are also cafes, gift shops, a dolls house museum, as well as a famous colony of wallabies on the Estate.
The restoration of the 240 acre estate, lead by Head Gardener Ray Abraham, has required a team of up to 20 gardeners working since the summer of 2017 to carry out essential clearance and rebuilding work. It has also involved cataloguing around 10,000 trees of which 95 champion trees have been recorded, including a specimen of the critically endangered Abies Nebrodensis (Sicilian Fir). With only 30 left in the wild, seedlings will be shared with Kew Gardens to help preserve the species.
View more Leonardslee Garden photos in this gallery:
For more information on Leonardslee Gardens visit www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk