Protected 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.

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.

Wisley © RHS

From town gardens and public parks to country estates, such places are an important, distinctive and much cherished part of our inheritance, and we have a duty to 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

Autumn at Wakehurst Jim Holden © RBG Kew

Located 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.

Birkenhead Park, Merseyside

© Historic England Archive DP175239

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. 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.

© Historic England Archive DP175240

Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire

© Robin Drayton

An arboretum is a botanical collection made up exclusively of trees. Westonbirt is one of England’s finest, and is home to thousands of different species from across the globe.

Sheffield Park, East Sussex

© Mal B

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.

RHS Gardens, Wisley, Surrey

Wisley © RHS

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) was given Wisley in 1903 by Sir Thomas Hanbury who was a wealthy Quaker with a passion for gardening. The garden quickly acquired a reputation for its grand collections but more importantly at Wisley the RHS had the space they needed to allow plant scientists to study flowers, vegetables and fruit, with the goal of sharing 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.

© Historic England Archive PLB_N071229

Surrounding the house is an 18th century landscape park, formal gardens, and woodland. Located nearby is the Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond, open all year round for hardy swimmers.

Friarwood Valley Gardens, Pontefract, Yorkshire

©Historic England Archive DP163087

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.

Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

© Historic England Archive PLB_N071372

Wrest Park consists of extensive pleasure grounds, park and woodland. The rectangular mansion ( listed Grade I) is near the centre of the site, on the north boundary of the pleasure grounds.

© Historic England Archive DP057701

Further Reading

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