Today Lin and Richard drove us to Sheffield Park near Hayward’s Heath. I highly recommend a visit here if you are close to Sussex! Plan to be there for some hours because it is huge and spectacular!
The landscape garden was laid out in the 18th century by ‘Capability’ Brown so right away you know it has good bones. It was designed around a series of four lakes. Beautiful scenic paths take you through glades, through woodlands, all around the lakes and over bridges. You can bring the family, the kids can run around and you can be re-charged in the beauty and bounty of this garden. It’s not like a commercial garden where every bed is perfect and not a bloom out of place. It’s in a very natural setting with every season having a turn to dazzle.
Bring a picnic and relax on one of the expansive lawns, but don’t forget to bring some extra bread or grain for the ducks. We had such a nice walk here and so many reasons to come back. There is an ongoing list of events and things to bring the kids to see and do. For instance, in January there is a “lost tools” hunt for kids called “Frosty Tools”. The gardeners leave tools around an area of the park and the kids get to go hunt for them. There are kite making workshops, Valentine’s Day tea, walks to see the changing colors in fall. My favorite thing they have going for adults is the Christmas Stroll, “to walk off the excesses” of the holidays. Choose from the Turkey Trot, Plum Pudding Promenade, Mince Pie Meander or Christmas Cake Constitutional. So creative!
Some of the history of the park: Sheffield Park estate is mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1538, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, entertained Henry VIII here. In 1876 a cricket pitch was laid out on the grounds. During World War II the house and garden became the headquarters for a Canadian division. The estate was split up and sold in lots in 1953. The National Trust purchased about 40 ha in 1954, it now owns up to 80 ha. My cousin told me she had read that the house is now sold and turned into individual flats with a price tag of around 1 million pounds each! It’s got to be because of the spectacular views!
We didn’t plan ahead and bring a picnic, so headed out around lunch time for Chaily and a pub that caught Richard’s eye on the way in. The King’s Head Inn on East Grinstead Rd. The food was good and it wasn’t too crowded, we didn’t feel rushed and just relaxed with lunch and a glass of wine, then headed back to walk off the lovely desserts we all had.
The price to get into Sheffield Park, I thought was reasonable at £9.90. If you’re visiting from overseas, you may want to look into getting a pass to National Trust properties. I have done this on several occasions and it’s really a good value. You can get a seven day pass for £25 and a fourteen day pass for only £30! It gets you into hundreds of special places around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s also really easy to get online. One year I ordered three online and when I got the envelope, it had been ripped open and one out of three passes was missing. I called the office of the National Trust and they sent a new card to my friend’s house in London for me to pick up. I truly expected them to say “sorry you’re out of luck, buy another one.” I thought that was pretty awesome!