In the heart of West Sussex sits the Walled Gardens a historic Grade 1 listed site, part of the magnificent grounds of Cowdray Park adjacent to the Cowdray Ruins. This is an estate that dates back to the Middle Ages and to some may be more known to them for its more contemporary association with Polo, rather than for the horticultural treasure that lies within its boundaries.
Still very much a ruin within its Tudor walls, this incredible site was rediscovered in 2001 and restored privately by Jan Howard owner of an award winning garden company. It is truly romantic with its roots as a Tudor Pleasure Garden. This is a place where ancient Royalty strolled, amongst them Henry VIII (where didn’t he go?!) and it is as achingly romantic today. In summer the lavender stands bright purple against the old brick of the walls and perfumes the air beautifully. Wrought iron pergola’s, arbours and obelisks add to the feel of being ‘away from it all’. In winter when snow may cover the ground, it’s completely magical, a secret world with the beautiful silence that snow brings with it. And guess what? You can have your ceremony here as well as your celebrations.
There are two function rooms, The Courtyard Room and The Castle Room, featuring Georgian stonework, for you to dine and enjoy your day but don’t miss the opportunity to take some time in the Ruins, enchanting by day, it is as night falls that they show their true beauty; ethereal when darkness begins to cover the sky and their walls are beautifully lit. This is the perfect place to wander under arches and imbibe the atmosphere from this ancient place. One of my favourite images that I captured here is of a bride resting a moment beside an arch just as the sky turns a magical blue.
Who would believe there is a gem like this so close to London and all the main routes? I didn’t until I was privileged enough to photograph there and it’s somewhere that I would visit again in a heartbeat. Make sure it’s on your ‘must see’ list.