Sunday 26 October 2014

Sheffield Park and Garden

I sometimes get the urge to ring Leeds Castle and say "What are you doing calling yourself Leeds Castle when you are in Kent? You could cause someone a serious travel mishap." (Note to the people that work at Leeds Castle: I have never actually done this, so if anonymous callers complaining about the above are the bane of your life, it's not me.)

Likewise Sheffield Park and Garden, which is actually in East Sussex and not in Yorkshire. I was hoping it might be a mini enclave of its Northern namesake, with Geoffrey Boycott in a flat cap saying "ow do" as he directed us to a parking space. But it wasn't and he didn't.

Sheffield Park and Gardens National Trust

Sheffield Park is in the Domesday Book - it meant 'sheep clearing', apparently. A lot of illustrious personages were connected with Sheffield Park but it was in 1730 that we know Lord de le Warr began landscaping the gardens. 

John Baker Holroyd, the Earl of Sheffield, bought the estate in 1769. He employed Capability Brown to continue the landscaping, and the work was continued by Humphrey Repton. 

(On a side note, the makers of Doctor Who really should have a look at Capability Brown. The man seemed to have had a hand in every garden in England in the 18th century. Either he was a timelord, he had cloned himself and there were ten of him, or he was part-octopus.)

Henry Holroyd, the 3rd Earl, was mad about cricket and built a cricket pitch at Sheffield Park. He died heavily in debt and the estate was acquired by Arthur Gilstrap Soames. He carried on the landscaping effort, putting in a lot of the plants that are still there today: the rhododendrons, the American oaks, and the Japanese maples. His nephew inherited and sold the estate in lots. The National Trust acquired the gardens in 1954.

(On another side note, the National Trust guidebook really didn't seem to want to talk about the house. It's in private ownership so maybe something dodgy is going on in there - perhaps it's the headquarters of the pro-fracking coalition or the National Old Building Eradication and Removal Society?)

Sheffield Park and Garden with house

The marketing campaign to promote autumn as the best time to visit Sheffield Park and Garden has been a huge success - the place was absolutely packed. And it was well worth the visit - there are plenty of paths for walking and admiring the autumnal views.

I also found what I firmly believe to be Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree. The label said Sequoiadendron giganteum but I know The Faraway Tree when I see it:

The Faraway Tree in Sheffield Park

The Sheffield Park Scone
Anyway, let's move onto the scones. Sheffield Park definitely wins the award for National Trust Property That Doesn't Skimp On The Scones Like Cliveden Does: a cream tea comprised of two hefty fellas that weren't fresh but by Jiminy they looked the part and they were enormous. I managed one and a half before I had to reluctantly admit defeat.

Sheffield Park Scones

I'm going to finish with an apology on behalf of the Scone Sidekick to the wood artist that carved these charming sheep that can be found dotted around the estate. The Sidekick, on seeing them, said "oh look, it's a hippopotamus":

Sheffield Park & Garden: 4 out of 5
Scones: 4 out of 5
Trees resembling Enid Blyton characters: 5 out of 5


  1. Maybe Capability Brown was overcompensating? Maybe he started out called Barely-Adequate Brown and just wanted to show them...

  2. Maybe he started out called Barely-Adequate Brown and just wanted to show them velg power ,...!!!