The new season at historic St Mary’s House and Gardens in Bramber starts with a flourish this bank holiday weekend when it is open to the public on both Sunday and Monday.
Sir Simon Jenkins, in England’s Thousand Best Houses, describes St. Mary’s as being both ‘a shrine to medieval Sussex’ and ‘eccentric and delightful’. Looking at the house and walking around the beautifully maintained gardens, it is hard to believe that, when the current owners purchased it in 1984, it was listed as a ‘building at risk’.
Today, visitors to St. Mary’s are warmly welcomed to this lived-in home by owners Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton, who have laboured away for over 30 years to restore this beautiful place to its original splendour, with the help of a small army of over 50 dedicated volunteers. Their achievement was recognised when St Mary’s won the coveted national Hudson’s Heritage Award for Best Restoration in 2011, and was also highly commended in the Beautiful South Tourism awards last year.
The result is a magical, timeless place, which is both peaceful and fascinating. The Painted Room – unique and decorated for the intended visit of Elizabeth I – is particularly breathtaking.
Today, visitors can enjoy afternoon teas in the charming country-style tearoom, and the elegant Victorian Music Room makes an ideal venue for concerts, weddings and other events.
There are five acres of grounds which include formal gardens with amusing topiary and an exceptional example of the prehistoric tree Ginkgo biloba. The Victorian ‘Secret’ Garden, with its original fruit-wall and pineapple pits, is a haven of tranquility. Visitors can enjoy the Jubilee Rose Garden, the Terracotta Garden, the unusual circular Poetry Garden, the new Landscape Water Garden with island and waterfall, the fully restored Victorian Glasshouse and the Rural Museum.
Visitors comment time and again on the friendliness of the staff, the beautiful house, the peaceful atmosphere, and the surprise round every corner of the garden.
St Mary’s House and Gardens are open to the public up to the end of September on Sundays, Thursdays and Bank Holiday Mondays, from 2 to 6pm. Also this year there are open afternoons every Wednesday in August.
See the website www.stmarysbramber.co.uk or telephone 01903 816205 for further information.