Winchelsea’s Secret Gardens

The Garden at King's Leap, Winchelsea
The scene in Castle Street

Record-breaking Easter weather brought around 600 visitors to Winchelsea on Saturday April 20 for the first of the 2019 National Garden Scheme (NGS) openings.

Five gardens were on view: King’s Leap, The Armoury, Periteau House, Cleveland Place and Rye View. In the four and a half hours the gardens were open, £3,450 was raised for the charities supported by the National Garden Scheme – mainly in the area of cancer and hospice care. In addition, £950 was raised by the Friends of the Conquest Hospital who provided delicious teas in the New Hall.

By common agreement the gardens were looking superb, with the bonus of long views out towards Rye across the valley from King’s Leap and across the marsh from Rye View. The group take the name “Winchelsea’s Secret Gardens” because it is impossible to guess from the picturesque facades of the houses exactly what will be found behind them.

The garden at Periteau House, Winchelsea

This is particularly true of The Armoury where Lys and Tony Jasper have created a garden of deceptively simple rooms and yew hedges making use of more space than it seems possible could be there. Visitors return year by year to admire the subtle colour coordination of Graham and Sally Rhodda’s garden at Cleveland Place and to Howard Norton’s renowned pot display at Rye View.

Complementing the afternoon opening were morning tours of Winchelsea’s famous medieval cellars. Built for merchants in around 1300, there are more here than anywhere except the big cities of Southampton, Chester and Norwich, and only those in Southampton rival Winchelsea for quality. Volunteers lead tours through until October and the town website gives full details of how to book.

The next NGS opening comes on Saturday June 15 when six more gardens will join to make eleven in all. Full details of this and other openings in the area, plus information on all the charities the scheme supports can be found online.


Image Credits: David Page .


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