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Wakehurst car parking — your questions answered

Find out about car parking charges and why the charges are vital for the future of Wakehurst.
Wakehurst Mansion and pond with spring border
The Mansion at Wakehurst

Please note that parking is free for all day paying visitors to Wakehurst, for Friends of Wakehurst and for Friends of Kew.

We very much appreciate the support shown by visitors and National Trust members who have continued to visit Wakehurst during this period of change.

We also acknowledge that for others the introduction of car parking charges has elicited a strong response. We understand that many feel a very personal connection to Wakehurst and we would ask that they consider channeling that passion into helping us ensure that Wakehurst thrives and survives.

The decision to introduce car parking charges was not taken lightly, and the National Trust and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew worked together for five years to explore the options available to us so that Wakehurst could begin to benefit from direct income from all of its visitors.

Prior to the introduction of parking charges, the vast majority (80%) of Wakehurst’s visitors accessed the gardens for free with National Trust membership. However, it is not free to run Wakehurst and we have a responsibility to operate it sustainably, in a manner that will ensure it continues to be a beautiful, educational, world-class garden and conservation site for future generations to enjoy.

Why we have introduced parking charges

Parking charges at Wakehurst were introduced in April 2014 in order to secure a sustainable future for the gardens.

Wakehurst is owned by the National Trust and Kew has maintained the gardens and woodlands through a lease since 1965. An endowment left to the National Trust contributes £80,000 a year to Wakehurst but, despite income from commercial activities contributing £750,000, Kew is still left with an annual deficit of £1.4 million, which is not sustainable.

The charging model allows Kew to directly link its income to the number of visitors. This, in turn, will enable us to invest in the long-term future of the landscape and visitor offer.

For details of the parking charges, please see our Wakehurst car parking charges page.

Latest FAQ

Q: Why do the parking signs not highlight the pricing structure?
A: Placement and content of signage was carefully considered and is now adequate, accurate and conforms to statutory guidelines. Each sign location has been carefully chosen to maximise the flow of traffic from the main highway and through the barriers at Wakehurst. We have ensured that visitors who decide they do not wish to pay for parking have enough time to leave the car park as the first 30 minutes are free.

Q: Why are there parking charges for blue badge holders?
A: Free parking for visitors with blue badges is not a legal requirement. However, Wakehurst makes adequate parking provision for our visitors with disabilities by providing parking adjacent to the nearest entry point, and we provide more spaces than required by statute.

Q: Why are you charging £10 for parking? 
A: Parking is free for Friends of Wakehurst, Friends of Kew and visitors purchasing a day ticket.

For visitors who hold National Trust membership and do not wish to become a Friend of Wakehurst, the parking charges are on a sliding scale:

•       Free for the first 30 minutes

•       £2 for the first hour and a half

•       £5 for two and a half hours

•       £10 per day

Please note these charges are per vehicle, not per person.

These price points were set as a result of consultation with a representative sample of National Trust Wakehurst visitors. 40,000 email surveys were sent out to National Trust members who live within one hour’s drive of Wakehurst.

Q: Is there a 'Family Friend of Wakehurst' option available?
A: Children under 17 years of age accompanying an adult are admitted free to Wakehurst. Please see our 'Friends of Wakehurst' information.

Q: Why should National Trust members who already pay for National Trust membership be expected to pay for membership for a National Trust site?
A: Wakehurst does not receive any direct income from our visitors who hold National Trust membership. Kew could no longer continue to absorb the costs of running Wakehurst when most of our regular visitors (80%) accessed the garden free with their National Trust membership.

Wakehurst does, however, benefit directly from the Friends of Wakehurst. We have found that once our visitors understand the urgent need to raise income for Wakehurst, they are keen to support us. 

Q: As Wakehurst is leased to Kew Gardens, is there any benefit to being a National Trust member if I visit?
A: National Trust members do not have to pay the standard entry ticket cost of £12.50, but National Trust members do have to pay to park. This free entry for National Trust members is even more beneficial when they are car sharing.

Q: Will you consider dropping parking charges?
A: We do not plan to reverse the introduction of parking charges.

Q: Why has free 30 minutes parking been introduced?
A: The 30 minutes free parking allows those who do not wish to pay for parking ample time to leave the car park site safely.

Q: Why was a barrier system chosen rather than pay and display?
A: We evaluated the options available to us and came to the conclusion that the barrier system was the most cost effective way of us investing in the infrastructure needed to make parking charges.

A barrier system also has the benefit of ensuring it is very clear to visitors that car parking charges apply.

If you have further questions not already answered on this page, please check the additional information available on our Freedom of Information page.

If you have questions not addressed in either of these pages, please email