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