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Mid Sussex


Ardingly Road (B2028), North of Ardingly, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6TN

Tel: +44 01444 894004



Wakehurst has been managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since 1965.  The collections are in general arranged geographically to create an 80 minute walk through the temperate forests of the world.  In addition there are four national collections including Betula, Skimmia, Nothofagus and Hypericum to be seen around the estate.

Starting from the Mansion the visitor first encounters the formal gardens and Mansion Pond.  There are extensive lawns, a walled garden and mixed borders.  Through the Slips to the Water Gardens beautifully planted collections of herbaceous plants can be seen on the approach to the Iris Dell.  Onwards into the woodland areas spectacular banks of rhododendrons and azaleas can be enjoyed on either side of the wooded Westwood Valley throughout Spring and early Summer.  These have to be seen to be believed.

The casual visitor passes the Loder Valley Nature Reserve entrance on route to the Wetland area and the reed swamp where they might catch a glimpse of a kingfisher or two.  Returning alongside Westwood Lake into Horsebridge Wood with its acers and liquidambar, superb in autumn, the visitor passes groves of douglas fir and wellingtonias and comes to Rock Walk where some remarkable exposed yew tree roots cascade over sandrocks.  Passing through Coates Wood with its southern hemisphere plants then into Bethlehem Wood where the Birch collection grows, the visitor finally arrives alongside the Welcome Trust Millennium Seed Bank having completed their walk.

A visit at any time of the year to Wakehurst will be richly rewarded especially when the Winter Garden is in full colour and other gardens are closed.

Loder Valley Nature Reserve

The Nature Reserve is open the same time as the Gardens.  To obtain a permit allowing access please go to the Visitor Centre main entrance desk on the day you wish to visit.  Entry to the Reserve is restricted to 50 people a day with no more than 25 per any one group.  No pre-booking is accepted.

History of the Mansion

Edward Culpeper built the house on an old site in 1590. This date is commemorated on the door at the Chapel entrance to the house and Edward Culpeper's initials can still be seen above the old South Entrance.   The Mansion is built of the local Ardingly sandstone.

In 1694, the estate was purchased from the last surviving member of the Culpeper family by Dennis Lydell, Commissioner of the Navy and a friend of Samuel Pepys. Over the next 175 years the house had various owners and tenants, and many changes were made to its architecture.

In 1869 Lady Downshire purchased the house and she also carried out extensive alterations. Subsequently, the estate was owned by Thomas Boord M.P. who renovated and restored much of the house.  In 1903, Gerald Loder bought Wakehurst and really expanded the development of the gardens, introducing many fine trees and shrubs.  Sir Henry Price purchased the estate in 1938 and, over the next 25 years, restored the roof and decaying stonework as well as developing the gardens further.  On his death in 1963, the estate was bequeathed to the National Trust who leased it to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1965.  The great storm of October 1987 tore through the plantations at Wakehurst, uprooting 20,000 trees, this led to a massive replanting programme which continues and has created the new vistas seen today.

The Welcome Trust Millennium Building

The Welcome Trust Millennium Building (Millennium Seed Bank), opened in 2000 and currently holds the largest and most diverse collection of wild species in the world, this includes 97% of the UK flora.  Focusing on the drylands the initial targets were to collect and conserve 10% of the world's flora, some 24,000 species, by 2010.  This and the UK seed-bearing flora targets are now near completion.  The species targeted include species at risk in the wild, and species of most use to man.  By storing at least 10% of the world's flora under optimal conditions, the Millennium Seed Bank and its partner banks will act as a substantial genetic asset for research, which insures humanity against the loss of these species.  The international seed collecting programme is undertaken by collaboration with international partners and the challenge post 2010 will be to collect seed from a further 15% of the world's flora.

Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Adult£12.00 per ticket
Children 16 and underFree

Annual membership from as little as £25


Map & Directions


  • Visit England Awards -Code of Practice Code of Practice 2011
  • Regional and Miscellaneous -Tourism South East Member 2018 Tourism South East Member 2018 2018

Opening Times

2019 (1 Jan 2019 - 31 Dec 2019)

* Closed 24/25 Dec. Shops closed on Easter Day. Catering not affected. Restaurant, shop and Seed Café open 10. Mansion, Seed Bank and restaurant close 1hr before garden. Shop trading restricted on Sun. Last admission 30mins before closing

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