The garden at Woolbeding

The potager at Woolbeding House. ©NTPL/Stephen Robson

Barbara, of the beautiful and lively blog It’s about Time, recently did a fascinating post about glass cloches. She has since also done one about ceramic forcing pots. This picture of the garden at Woolbeding House, West Sussex, shows two of each.

©NTPL/Stephen Robson

Woolbeding is a National Trust property which was tenanted by the late Simon Sainsbury and Stewart Grimshaw. The restrained and yet characterful interiors of the house were featured in the June 2009 issue of World of Interiors. The gardens will be open to the public for the first time in 2010 (details to be announced).

©NTPL/Stephen Robson

Simon Sainsbury was a scion of the eponymous grocery dynasty. He worked in the family firm and was an extremely generous, albeit self-effacing, philantropist.

The Gothic summerhouse and the cascade. ©NTPL/Stephen Robson

As well as contributing to many cultural and social projects, he set up a fund which supported a number of important National Trust acquisitions. The latest of these was the purchase at auction of a pair of silver salvers for Uppark.

The chinoiserie bridge, with the River God in the distance. ©NTPL/Stephen Robson

During his lifetime Simon Sainsbury always wished for his support to remain anonymous, but now we are able to celebrate the generosity and taste of this remarkable man.

17 Responses to “The garden at Woolbeding”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Thank you for the glimpse at cloches & terra cotta forcing pots. Wonder if the Trust gardeners ever paint the panes of glass in the metal-framed cloches with a leaded white substance, or if that process was discontinued decades ago. I have never seen it done. Thank you for the reference as well. We have all missed your posts & presence.

  2. columnist Says:

    The photos you show of the gardens make me long to visit one. There is something quite different and enchanting about English, (and Scottish) gardens, and now with trees in their full foliage, it would be a good time to go.

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Barbara, I think lead-based paints are not now used in the UK, but I am not sure and will find out, and if so what the gardeners use instead.

    Columnist, do come! At the moment the the green of the leaves over here still has that spring freshness to it, a lovely time of year.

  4. littleaugury Says:

    yes the green palette is beautiful. how generous I find anonymous gifts-very little of the ego in there. I am going to pull out the World of Interiors issue to refresh my memory and savor the idea of a tour of both. Barbara is inspiring, I agree. pgt

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes it has been estimated that Simon Sainsbury donated well over £100 million to museums, medical research and social regeneration projects during his lifetime – truly generous. He also left paintings by Gainsborough, Zoffany, Monet, Gaugin, Degas, Bacon, Freud and others to the National Gallery and to Tate.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    To answer Barbara’s question about lead in paint: My colleague Nigel Blades (preventive conservation adviser) has told me that lead has been replaced by titanium as an ingredient in white paint, except in some artist’s paints.

  7. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Mike Calnan, the National Trust’s head of gardens, has just confirmed that in order to white out cloches or greenhouses gardeners would traditionally have used whitewash, i.e. the unbound paint derived from slaked lime.

  8. Janet Says:

    Loved seeing the interiors in WoI…so this is a treat to catch a glimpse of the gardens!

  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Janet, there are interesting similarities between the interiors and the garden, aren’t there? – the same sense of controlled drama, perhaps?

  10. le style et la matière Says:

    It is heartening to hear of Sainsbury. What stikes me other than the beauty of the garden is the name Woolbeding. One more ounce of charm and it would have been invented!

  11. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes it is one of those evocative ancient placenames. Apparently it is listed in the Domesday Book (1086) as Welbedinge, meaning ‘Wulfbeards people’. Reminds you of Proust and what he said about the flavour of names (Guermantes!), doesn’t it?

  12. home garden Says:

    What a beautiful garden! I love the summerhouse and the cascade. Peaceful and fresh.

  13. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks – I hope you are able to visit this summer!

  14. John Bennett Says:

    I have often walked past this spectacular french Renaissance inspired house in the midst of glorious Weald scenery, little suspecting that an NT property lurked behind its mysterious facade. The truth, as revealed here, is every bit as magical as imagined. I will definitely be investigating!

  15. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes it is wonderful that Stuart Grimshaw is now allowing the public to see what he and the late Simon Sainsbury have created at Woolbeding.

  16. Trevor Dodgson Says:

    Pure magic.

  17. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks Trevor, I agree.

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