The Mansion in spring (Image: Jim Holden)

The Mansion

Discover our Elizabethan Mansion, containing a gallery of botanical paintings and housing a range of events throughout the year.

Inside the Mansion

There are several downstairs rooms inside the Mansion that visitors can explore. These include the entrance hall, gallery, blue room and chapel.

Currently on display in the gallery is a section of botanical paintings by four renowned artists: John Day, brothers Franz and Ferdinand Bauer and Sarah Drake.

Items of furniture used by Sir Henry and Lady Price are arranged beside the marble fireplace in the Blue Room, including Hepplewhite elbow and easy chairs, a 17th century side table and a Chinese screen.

Fireplace in The Mansion at Wakehurst
Bookcase in The Mansion at Wakehurst
Art from John Day's Scrapbook

Around the Mansion

Just a short walk from the Visitor Centre, the Mansion is surrounded by floral borders and overlooks the dramatic Mansion pond. 

Mansion Pond at Wakehurst

History of the Mansion

The land on which the Mansion was built was purchased in 1205 by William de Wakehurst, who bought 40 acres of the surrounding countryside.

Edward Culpeper commissioned the design of the Mansion in 1590. Edward was a distant relative of one of the last two women in the Wakehurst line, and was a distant relative of Nicholas Culpeper the famous herbalist. 

The Mansion was created around a square courtyard, but one wing was destroyed in 1697, and two more were demolished in 1845 – although the end walls were later rebuilt. Today, only one complete wing remains.

The house was sold by the Culpepers to pay off gambling debts in 1694 and bought by Dennis Lydell. Lydell increased the estate to 3,100 acres (1,255 hectares) by 1748.

The Peytons were residents from 1776 to 1869, when the Mansion was sold to the Dowanger Marchioness of Downshire. Lady Downshire made her mark by adding the chapel to the side of the buiding. She changed the approach to the Mansion to its present layout and installed central heating.

The Mansion was purchased by Gerald Loder in 1903. Gerald (who later became Lord Wakehurst) was a passionate plantsman and helped sponsor many collecting expeditions at the turn of the century, particularly to eastern Asia, still acknowledged to be the world’s richest source of temperate flora. He was particularly interested in Southern Hemisphere plants and built up an outstanding collection from South America, Australia and New Zealand.

Sir Henry and Lady Eve Price bought the property after Lord Wakehurst’s death in 1936. They restored the stonework and roof and continued to develop the gardens. Sir Henry was passionate about plants and under his care the estate matured and became widely admired.

In 1963 the Price family bequeathed Wakehurst and a large endowment to the National Trust. The house and the land were leased to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1965.

The Mansion at Wakehurst