Often the course of the country estate over the last 100 years has been for the land to be gradually sold off, starting with the outlying areas, and moving closer until just the house and it’s immediate gardens remain intact. At Leonardslee in Sussex the process was eventually taken one step further with the house being sold off. This, however, may about to be reversed.
Sir Edmund Loder bought the manor house and 225-acre gardens from his inlaws in 1889 and soon opened them to the public. Over the next five generations, the Loder family added to the planting and landscaping to create what is now one of the only 163 grade-I listed gardens in the country. Despite the family still owning the gardens the grade-II listed Italianate manor house, built in 1853 and featuring a 900 sq ft central hall decorated with Ionic columns, was sold off separately in the 1980s and became offices. The gardens grew in reputation so it was something of a shock when in April 2008 it was announced that they were being put up for sale by Robin Loder for £5m through the estate agency Savills. Cleverly, the company who owned the house also announced they were open to offers at around £3.25m for the house.
The Times is now reporting that after nearly two years on the market, the gardens have been sold to a private businessman and are likely to close to the public. They are also reporting that the house may also be under offer at £2.75m to the same businessman giving him a perfect opportunity to once again recreate a stunning small estate which, with the addition of the house, could be worth in the region of £10m. Though a sad day for the many garden-lovers who have made many a pilgrimage to wander among the wallabies, it’s an encouraging reversal of the trend for houses to lose the control of the landscape which so often perfectly frames them.
Full story: ‘Leonardslee Gardens to close to the public after being sold‘ [The Times]