Autumnal scene with lake and trees
Conservation Listed places Parks and Gardens

Protected Parks and Gardens to Visit this Autumn

As the nights grow shorter and the leaves get crispier, here are some of the best parks and gardens to visit this Autumn.

The Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England was established in 1983 and currently identifies over 1,650 sites of national importance.

Wisley. © RHS.

These range from private gardens and city squares to cemeteries and university campuses. Many designed landscapes also have listed buildings or sites within their boundaries.

From town gardens and public parks to country estates, such places are an important, distinctive and much-cherished part of our inheritance, and we must care for them.

As the days grow shorter and the leaves get crispier, here are some of the best parks and gardens to visit this Autumn.

Wakehurst, West Sussex

In West Sussex, Wakehurst is a grand 16th-century mansion surrounded by 500 acres of garden and is home to the Kew Millennium Seed Bank.

Autumn at Wakehurst Jim Holden. © RBG Kew.

Birkenhead Park, Merseyside

Designed by Joseph Paxton, Edward Kemp and architects Lewis Hornblower and John Robertson, Birkenhead Park opened in April 1847 in response to declining health conditions during the Industrial Revolution.

Birkenhead Park. © Historic England Archive DP175239.

It was the first park to be created through an act of Parliament and using public funds and was the inspiration for New York’s Central Park.

Birkenhead Park. © Historic England Archive DP175240.

Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire

An arboretum is a botanical collection made up exclusively of trees.

Westonbirt Arboretum. © Robin Drayton.

Westonbirt is one of England’s finest, home to thousands of species from across the globe.

Sheffield Park, East Sussex

Sheffield Park houses a wooded landscape park with lakes and was laid out in the mid and late 18th Century by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton.

Sheffield Park. © Mal B.

RHS Gardens, Wisley, Surrey

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) was given Wisley in 1903 by Sir Thomas Hanbury, a wealthy Quaker with a passion for gardening.

The garden quickly acquired a reputation for its grand collections.

Wisley. © RHS.

More importantly, at Wisley, the RHS had the space to allow plant scientists to study flowers, vegetables and fruit to share with the public which plants were the best to grow.

Kenwood, Hampstead Heath, London

Towards the north end of Hampstead Heath is the protected landscape of Kenwood, which houses the Grand, Grade I Listed home of the same name.

Kenwood. © Historic England Archive PLB/N071229.

Surrounding the house is an 18th-century landscape park, formal gardens, and woodland.

The Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond is located nearby, open all year round for hardy swimmers.

Friarwood Valley Gardens, Pontefract, Yorkshire

Designed by RW Grubb and laid out in the mid-Twentieth Century, Friarwood Valley Gardens is situated on the site of the town’s medieval monastery.

Friarwood Valley Gardens. © Historic England Archive DP163087.

Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

Wrest Park consists of extensive pleasure grounds, a park and woodland.

Wrest Park. © Historic England Archive PLB/N071372.

The rectangular mansion (listed at Grade I) is near the site’s centre, on the pleasure grounds’ north boundary.

Wrest Park. © Historic England Archive DP057701.

Further reading

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