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Sussex and the Weald are a rich source for beautiful gardens
and Nymans is one of the best, thanks to the efforts of the Messel family
covering the period from 1890 to 1992.
The present house and garden
reflects most strongly the influence of Leonard Messel and his wife Maud who
inherited in 1915 and had three children. One of these was Oliver, one of the
most creative theatre designers of his day, whose nephew was Lord
In total three
generations of the Messel family have lived at Nymans, from the late 1800's
until 1947 when the house was tragically destroyed by fire. Subsequently the
surviving rooms were still used, occasionally to entertain friends and as a
base from which to run the garden. Following Col. Messel's death in 1953,
Nymans became one of the first gardens to be transferred to the National Trust.
Today the ruined house still provides a romantic background for the garden and
the remaining Messel Family rooms are open to the public.
The garden covers approximately 30 acres set on the side of
a valley at 500 feet and although partly sheltered by the woods of the Sussex
Weald, suffered much damage during the Great Storm of October 1987, loosing 486
mature trees and many of the shrubs. The restoration of the garden continues
within the overall plan laid out by Ludwig Messel.
The garden is laid
out in a series of rooms the different levels connected by stone steps or
grassy slopes, the 'rooms' are separated by hedges walls or trees which provide
shelter for the rare and exotic plants for which the garden is renowned. The
individual gardens include the Wall Garden (the oldest), The Knot Garden, The
Rose Garden, The Top Garden, The Sunk Garden, The Pinetum and several others.
The garden has been designed to surprise and inspire all year round but as
usual is at its very best in the spring and summer.
Nymans is situated
at Handcross in West Sussex, accessed by the A23 and B2114.