FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Steam to Sheffield Park Garden

Posted in England, Sheffield Park by folkestonejack on October 29, 2016

After a rollercoaster week at work it was good to get out to the beautiful landscape gardens at Sheffield Park, Sussex, to recharge my batteries. It may not have been the best day to visit, with overcast skies and unexpected drizzle, but nothing could diminish the beautiful autumnal colours. It didn’t seem to have deterred the crowds either with the overflow car park called into use to cope with a long queue of visitors.

A view of Sheffield Park House from the garden

A view of Sheffield Park House from the garden

My journey to Sheffield Park Garden was an altogether more relaxed affair. I took advantage of the Bluebell Railway’s ‘Giants of Steam’ gala to take a ride down to Sheffield Park behind the sole surviving B12 class express passenger steam locomotive (built by Beyer, Peacock & Co. in 1928), a gorgeous sight in LNER Apple Green.

The splendid recreation of the Southern Railway of the mid 1920s at Horsted Keynes is always a highlight of any visit to the Bluebell, even if I was only passing through this time. There was even a nod to the 21st century Southern experience with a half hour delay on my journey back up the line (the service unravelled with the unfortunate failure of the B12, blocking the line at Horsted Keynes until the stricken train could be shunted into the sidings).

It takes only a few minutes to walk to the gardens from Sheffield Park station, following a well signed footpath across parkland. Once inside the gardens you can take your pick of paths around the four lakes, through the glades and woodland, admiring a landscape that has evolved over hundreds of years. Most notably, the gardens owe much to the work of Capability Brown and Humphry Repton in the late 18th century.

The gardens also include a splendid set of carefully engineered waterfalls which were constructed by James Pulman and Son between 1882-1885 using their secret recipe for Pulhamite, a rather special kind of artificial rock that is most familiar to me from its use in the Zigzag Path in Folkestone. The waterfalls are only switched on for an hour every Tuesday and Friday, so I’ll have to come back to see it working on some future occasion.

Red leaves at Sheffield Park Garden

Red leaves at Sheffield Park Garden

The Sheffield Park estate was split up in 1953 with the National Trust purchasing the gardens whilst the house remained in private ownership (in the 1980s it was divided into twelve apartments). However, you can still see how beautifully this all fitted together when you take in the view across the Ten Foot Pond from the First Bridge to the gothic house designed by James Wyatt.

Sheffield Park Garden was designed to be at its best in the autumn so its no surprise that the colour on display here, mirrored in the lakes, is such a lure for visitors. I thought it was a wonderful place to unwind and let go of the stresses of the working week. If only you could bottle that effect…

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