Late bloomer

Country Life Every Week - - TOWN & COUNTRY - Edited by An­nun­ci­ata El­wes

CLOSED to the public since 2010, there’s new hope for Leonard­slee Gar­dens (above), at Lower Beed­ing near Hor­sham in West Sus­sex, which has been ac­quired by a South African­based en­trepreneur who plans to re­store and re­open it.

The Ital­ianate-style 19th-cen­tury house is sur­rounded by 200-acres of Grade I-listed gar­dens over a steep wood­land val­ley, punc­tu­ated by seven man­made ponds (cre­ated to pro­vide wa­ter power to the iron in­dus­try), two alpine glasshouses and a Vic­to­rian rock gar­den.

Cre­ated in 1801, the gar­dens are known for their ex­otic plants and spring dis­plays of rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas, camel­lias, mag­no­lias and blue­bells, as well as a colony of wal­la­bies that has grazed there for more than a cen­tury. Some of the trees are thought to be the only known spec­i­mens in the world.

The buyer, Penny Streeter, is also the owner of Benguela Cove vine­yard in South Africa and the 400-acre golf course and wine es­tate at Man­nings Heath, just eight miles from Leonard­slee. As well as restor­ing the gar­dens, Miss Streeter plans to cre­ate tea rooms and other din­ing at­trac­tions. ‘It com­ple­ments our golf and en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties at Man­nings Heath, where we’re de­vel­op­ing a wine des­ti­na­tion, bring­ing in our wines from South Africa and cul­ti­vat­ing on site a new 35-acre vine­yard for English sparkling wine,’ she says.

Leon­dard­slee Gar­dens in West Sus­sex has been closed to the public since 2010, but a new owner plans to re­store and re­open it

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