St Mary’s House Gardens: a passion for restoration

Every year, the National Garden Scheme celebrates the loyalty – and often significant longevity – of many of the gardens that open for the charity. In 2021 the numbers are impressive. While some celebrate over 40 years with us, 19 mark their 30 year anniversaries including the restored gardens at St Mary’s House Gardens in Bramber, West Sussex.

“This wonderful loyalty is so important to the National Garden Scheme,” says Chief Executive, George Plumptre. “What’s so special about the gardens is that every year they are different; new plants and redesigned areas along with the influence of the weather or new owners mean they are always in development, always growing and changing.” 

St Mary’s House Gardens is a wonderful example both of loyalty to the National Garden Scheme and of how passion and hard work are key ingredients in helping a garden to develop and bloom over a period of years.

“We visited the house originally on a very snowy day,” recount the owners Roger Linton and Peter Thorogood. “Although the house needed to be restored and the garden was non-existent, something pulled at us. Most of our friends said you’re mad, you don’t know what you’re taking on. But one friend said if you have a gut reaction to it, go for it …” 

Over 30 years later and the gardens at Bramber are some of the most visited in West Sussex, and in 2021 open on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th July for the 30th year for the National Garden Scheme. 

More about the gardens


What once was overgrown and unkempt has been restored, and additional land added to create five acres of gardens. A series of individual ‘garden rooms’ include formal topiary, a large Ginkgo biloba, and magnificent Magnolia grandiflora set around the fully restored timber-framed Medieval house (soon to reopen). There’s a Victorian secret garden with a splendid 140-foot fruit wall with pineapple pits, a rural museum, terracotta garden, Jubilee rose garden, King’s garden and circular poetry garden along with a woodland walk and landscape water garden. 

“Set in the heart of the South Downs National Park the variety of garden rooms creates a wonderful surprise for visitors at every turn,” says West Sussex Assistant County Organiser Fiona Phillips. “It’s one of my favourite places to visit.” 

For more information see:
Visit a garden in your area – National Garden Scheme (ngs.org.uk) 

Story of the garden

Why not watch this charming film and learn more about the lovely gardens:

The National Garden Scheme would like to say a huge thank you to all the gardens that open for us and to congratulate all of those marking milestones in 2021. Together you have helped raise over £60 million for some of the UK’s best-loved nursing and health charities.

Garden owners Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton with Fiona Phillips and Maggi Hooper from the National Garden Scheme.
Photo and lead image: Clive Blair-Stevens

Further information, and updates on opening times, can be found on their website https://stmarysbramber.co.uk


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