“ Ardingly, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex. PUBLIC GARDENS, managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 170 acres of ornamental gardens, woodland, wetland and meadow. Shop, restaurant and facilities for the disabled. On the B2028 off Jn 10, M23. „
I have been a member of National Trust for four years. During the period I have visited many national trust properties. Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank was one of them.
Brief information about Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank:
Wakehurst Place was the National Trust's most visited property for 2008-2009 fiscal year. It comprises a late 16th century country house and a mainly 20th century garden. As the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Wakehurst Place features natural woodland and lakes, formal gardens, and the 21st-century architecture of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank.
The Millennium Seed Bank is launched in 2000 and located in Wakehurst Place. Its purpose is to provide an "insurance policy" against the extinction of plants in the wild by storing seeds for future use.
Wakehurst Place is located near Ardingly, West Sussex, England. You can drive your car to get Wakehurst. There is a big parking area which is near the entrance. It's also accessible by train or by bus.
What to see at Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank:
First is the Millennium Seed Bank. It was the first seed bank I have visited in my life and I really like it. The bank has collected the seeds from over 24000 species of plants, representing 10% of the world's dry land flora. By the way it has collected seeds from all the UK's native flora. I was pleased to see some seeds from China.
You can see some unusual seeds displayed in the glasses. You can also see how they deal with the seeds in the bank. When the seeds arrive first they need to be cleaned and their identification confirmed. Then they would be dried and stored in sub-zero conditions.
The second place to see is an Elizabethan house, which has five unfurnished rooms. In 1590 Edward Culpepper completed the present building. It originally formed a square courtyard, but now just one compete side remains. The building is a Grade 1 listed building. There is a room named the Blue Room, in which you can see the wall covering is a silk fabric. There are a few pieces of furniture. I was impressed by a Chien Lung Chinese leather four-fold screen, which is painted and gilded with figures on terraces, etc.
Last but not least you can see the garden. My first impression was it's an exquisite garden. However when I followed the tourist guide to walk around the ground I felt it's a big park too. You can see plants from different countries around the world. Most of them have signs, which tell you what they are. I was pleased to see some tress originally from China. However my most favourite one was a big chestnut tree, which was very much like a wedding cake. Bear in mind the journey through changing landscapes of garden, wetland and woodland is about 40 minute walking. It starts in the front of the house and ends there too.
Opening times and price:
Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Last admission to Seed Bank and house 90 minutes before closing.
Wakehurst Place hosts many weddings and events and may be closed to the public. Better to check National Trust or Kew websites before going.
Currently the admissions are £12 for adult and free for children under 17 years old (must be accompanied by an adult). As it is a National Trust property, it's free for National Trust members.
Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank is a great place for garden lovers. To ordinary tourists it's an enjoyable place to explore too.
Nearby Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank you can also visit Standen, Arts and Crafts family home with Morris & Co. interiors; and Bateman's, home of Rudyard Kipling.
For more tourist sites please visit my blog: http://blossom-iwanttoseetheworld.blogspot.co.uk/
I have recently returned from a week long trip to Sussex to visit relatives. During our stay we visited several National trust properties and estates so thought I would share my experiences with you. The first place we visited was Wakehurst place, situated in beautiful countryside near to Haywards Heath.
I am not going to give you detailed direction as you can of course get these from the Internet or simply by reading a map! However it is possible to visit using public transport. There is a bus from Haywards Heath where there is also a train station. Haywards Heath is about 6 miles from Wakehurst.
We traveled by car via Haywards Heath. Be aware that this is a busy area especially during the morning and evening rush hour! Wakehurst place is situated on the B2028 1 mile north of Ardingly. Wakehurst place is on a national cycle route if you are feeling energetic!
Once through Haywards Heath Wakehurst is well signposted.
Parking is free and there are lots of spaces. There are also designated spaces for disabled drivers close to the entrance.
Admission charges and opening times.
Wakehurst place is open all year expect for Christmas day, Boxing Day and new years day. During the summer months it is open from 10 am until 6 pm. For winter opening times visit the national trust web site.
We are members of the National Trust so entry was free. However if you are not members it will cost you £10 per adult. Children under 16 are admitted free of charge.
What is there to see and do?
Wakehurst place has something for everyone. The estate is extensive and dates back to Norman times. There is an Elizabethan mansion,300 acres of grounds with the Loder valley nature reserve, wetlands, and the important millennium seed bank. I intend to give a taste of the highlights and hope it will help you get the most out of a visit to Wakehurst.
The visitor centre
On arrival you will pass through the large visitor centre and shop. There is a lot of walking involved in a visit to Wakehurst and buggies are allowed. It is also possible to loan a wheel chair from the visitor centre. The staff are very helpful and will supply various leaflets if asked. I mention this as not all the leaflets are on display so it is worth asking. A map of the estate is really useful! We also picked up various leaflets for children. There are displays explaining the conservation work that takes place at Wakehurst that are worth taking time to look at.
There are toilets and baby changing facilities in the visitor centre; I was impressed with how clean the toilets were when we visited.
The millennium seed bank.
I suggest you visit the seed bank at the start of your visit as it is located close to the visitor centre. This is an amazing project and is owned and funded by Kew gardens. Inside you will find state of the art laboratories for research into seed biology. The aim of the seed bank is to collect and conserve seed from 10% of the world's plants by 2010.This is an important project as without the project many of the plants could become extinct with animals that are dependant on them also becoming extinct.
The building that houses the seed bank is a very modern affair with lots of glass. Inside you will find displays and touch screens explaining why the work is so important and how it is carried out. You can also spy on the scientists at work behind the glass windows. My children were fascinated by the work and were certainly made more aware of the importance of conservation.
The grounds and mansion
The grounds are very extensive covering over 300 acres. There are lots of well signposted paths to explore most of which are suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. If you have mobility problems be aware that there are some quite steep climbs so pick you paths carefully. I suggest you take the path from the seed bank to the Elizabethan mansion.
The mansion dates back to 1205 although the house you see today was completely rebuilt in 1590.The house is not large but is very attractive. William Wakehurst bought the land in 1205 and the house belonged to the Culpepper family until it was left to the National trust in 1963. I understand that there are guided tours of the mansion although on the day we visited the mansion was closed as there was a wedding taking place. I was very disappointed not to have been able to look inside! However I was told that you are not able to go upstairs and that the house and chapel houses various exhibits. I was able to take a peep at the beautiful oak staircase however!
The grounds are simply exquisite .My children particularly enjoyed walking around the lake and feeding the numerous ducks and ducklings. We were fortunate to be given a bag of bread by a kind visitor. If you have children then remember to bring some bread! There are lots of benches around the lake so you can sit and admire the views back toward the mansion.
We also enjoyed walking to the Loder valley reserve. This provides a safe haven for the many plants and animals that have made it there home. There is a kingfisher hide here although we were not lucky enough to see any! This area has a woodland, meadowland and wetland.
There are numerous beautiful trees many with signs telling you what they are. I loved the giant redwood!
Walking around the grounds my children were pleased to spot the wooden noughts and crosses and Jenga games for them to play. This is a really nice child friendly touch!
We normally take a picnic when we go out as the cost of eating out is very high! If you bring a picnic then there are dozens of lovely spots to throw down your rug! If you prefer to eat off the ground then you will find lots of benches around the estate. Even on a bust Saturday we found quiet spots to sit! There are lots of tables opposite the entrance to the mansion where you can picnic. I would mention that this area had lots of wasps, so be aware!
As we were with relatives we decided to eat in the stable café next to the mansion. The café is not owned by the Nation trust. The menu looked fairly varied but we were disappointed to find that by 1pm many of the items were no longer available. I choose carrot and bergamot soup priced at £4. The price included bread and butter. My children had wanted a chicken coronation sandwich but this was sold out. They settled for cheese sandwiches in the end priced at £3.50. There are hot meals available but I thought these were very expensive at around £9 for quiche and salad! The café also sells various cakes that all looked very yummy, though we resisted the temptation!
There is another café situated by the visitor centre although this isn't so pleasantly situated.
There are toilets and baby changing facilities in both cafes.
Overall I would highly recommend a visit to Wakehurst place. We spent a whole day here and found plenty for everyone to do and see. I would love to come back in the autumn when the colours must be amazing!