New opening date for Leonardslee Gardens near Horsham

Leonardslee Gardens, in Lower Beeding, is set to re-open to the public in March next year.

The 200-acre historic gardens have been closed to the public since 2010 and public anticipation of their re-opening has grown since businesswoman Penny Streeter bought the estate last year.

Leonardslee Gardens

Leonardslee Gardens

Previously the gardens attracted around 50,000 visitors a year until they were closed by the then owner.

Penny Streeter, who also owns the nearby Mannings Heath Golf Course and Wine Estate, as well as businesses in South Africa, employed a team in a major investment programme of renovation of both the gardens and the estate’s Italianate mansion.

But works have been held up in a wait for planning approval and the discovery of protected species of bats and newts on the site.

However, after planning was given the go-ahead in October, work has been ongoing and the gardens’ website says it will now re-open in March.

The Grade I listed gardens - famed for their rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and bluebells - were originally set to re-open to the public this spring, but it was postponed to July - then again to January next year.

Restaurant and afternoon tea

While the gardens have had delays Leonardslee’s new restuarant The Interlude is open and taking bookings.

Menus are designed around produce grown, found and foraged from the estate and is ever changing like the gardens themselves.

Any produce not available at the gardens is sourced from local farmers who all share the same organic principles.

Afternoon tea is also available, set within the drawing room of the two-storey Italianate mansion which dates back to 1801 and sits on a natural terrace above the steep west side of a valley.

Guests are able to view the kaleidoscope of colour with impressive views over the gardens and South Downs.

Details about the gardens, events and booking details for the restuarant and tea room are available at the website www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk

See also: New fine dining experience in the heart of famous gardens near Horsham

Video: Leonardslee Gardens - a tour around the estate

SLIDESHOW: The stunning sights of Leonardslee Gardens