I’ve been meaning to tell you about Wakehurst Place for months. Germaine and I went there at the end of May when wisteria was in bloom and the bluebells were swaying in the late spring breeze. It feels like the trip was a lifetime ago because so much has changed since, but then it’s only really been three months which seems like no time at all too.
We were looking for a day trip somewhere within reach of south London. It had to be picturesque and somewhere we could embrace our shared love of photography. As sibling to Kew Gardens, Wakehurst Place went to the top of the list quite quickly and, after finding out we could both get in for free, was an easy decision.
We met on a Southern train at East Croydon and set off on our adventure. The train journey was simple enough, but after arriving at Haywards Heath then casually wandering around Waitrose for our lunch, we realised that we’d failed to properly investigate how we’d get from the station to the gardens. The next bus was over an hour away! It was just a bit too long to walk, which left us with the only option of grabbing a taxi outside the station.
We cursed ourselves for the lack of money-savvy planning, but were laughing about it after we entered the gates. A little reminder from the world that travel isn’t quite the same outside the city.
I assumed Wakehurst would be smaller in size than Kew, but it turns out that it has around 500 acres compared to the infamous gardens’ 325 acres! But it’s like Kew in many ways. It makes a strong first impression for starters.
And as you might expect the plants are as as carefully planted.
Wakehurst Place Mansion is very close to the entrance. It’s over 450 years old and beautiful to behold.
(It’s definitely worth adding to the wisteria list I wrote the last year.)
After peering through the lead-framed windows, we had to see whether the inside was as beautiful as the outside.
Sadly, whilst it has those lovely creaking floorboards and a library that must have had a treasure trove of books one day, a lot of what we could see had been converted into something more functional. So we made our way back to the gardens and admired the building once more from afar.
And took off down an intriguing path.
It was so lush and a lovely shade of green back then, but there was lots of pops of colour too.
If it looked this beautiful back then, I can only imagine how stunning it will be as autumn takes hold.
What must have been a few hundred photos later, we arrived at Westwood Lake.
It was so serene. The perfect place to enjoy our ‘picnic’ lunch and catch up on life away from our cameras.
We contemplated our next place to wander and were most tempted by the crooked bridge you weren’t really meant to cross.
But we couldn’t resist a rebellious snap or two.
Then we suddenly realised that we’d whiled away most of the day and decided that it was best to follow our steps back to the exit and avoid the temptation to explore every nook and cranny.
But just as we walked past the mansion to the exit we spotted the walled garden. “One last potter?” “Go on then!”.
If you go to any part of Wakehurst, this has to be it. It’s so lovely.
Take a few deep breaths, let go of a few of life’s stresses and enjoy what’s in front of you.
Until it’s time to go home.
If you time it right (we asked for the timetable on entering) you can even get the bus back like we did!
Although Wakehurst Place requires a bit more travelling than Kew (it’s about an hour from London by train), in my opinion it’s worth the journey. It’s a bit bigger in size but doesn’t have quite as many attractions. It doesn’t get too busy and there was no queue to get in. You can get free entry with a National Trust membership (who I believe actually own the mansion and gardens). It’s a pretty lovely way to spend an afternoon.