Excitement abounds as plans to re-open Leonardslee House and Gardens, Lower Beeding, in April approaches.

Leonardslee estate closed its doors to its 50,000 annual visitors in 2010. Sadly, it was left unloved and neglected until 2017 when it was acquired by Penny Street (OBE), South African based entrepreneur and owner of the Benguela Collection vineyards and hospitality group. Penny says, ‘We will restore the gardens to their former glory and create new facilities on site, including tea rooms and dining facilities, as a major local attraction for families, wedding groups and others. It complements our golf and entertainment facilities at Mannings Heath, where we are developing a wine destination, bringing in our wines from South Africa and cultivating on site a new 35-acre vineyard for English sparkling wine’. https://www.benguelacollection.com/

The estate was built in 1801. The Italianate house (Grade II listed) commands a view over the spectacularly colourful gardens offering a perfect venue for private functions. Whilst the gardens (the creation of a Victorian horticulturist Sir Edmund Loder), are Grade 1 listed on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The 200 acres boast a splendid array of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and bluebells. It also features seven man-made lakes set in a valley, ornamental rock gardens and woodland. It enjoys a plethora of wildlife including deer, wallabies, squirrels, rabbits, wildfowl and enormous carp.  Another attraction is the Dolls’ House Exhibition depicting the Edwardian estate.

An exciting new addition is a vineyard and wine tasting with chocolate or cheese!  Not forgetting, in July, the launch of a garden inspired fine dining experience in the capable hands of Executive Chef, Jean Delport, from Benguela in Cape Town.

Don’t miss the opportunity for annual membership with access to the gardens ten days before they open to the general public; unlimited entry from 9am; priority invitations to events and discount off food, drink and plants. Day passes and gift vouchers are also available.  https://www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk/annual-membership/