Beautiful Borde Hill

Borde Hill Garden, near Haywards Heath, invited GTO readers to visit in early May. Lunch and a tour of the gardens with the Head Gardener was included, plus a very special tour of the house. Fiona Horan reports back

A group of 30 GTO readers and guests were welcomed into BORDE HILL HOUSE with coffee and biscuits by owners Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke.

Built in 1598, Borde Hill is still a family home occupied by the Stephenson Clarkes since 1893 when the house was bought by the current owner’s great grandfather. An avid collector of plants, he chose Borde Hill for its garden, which offers uniquely varied growing conditions due to its soil structure and position. Mr Stephenson Clarke told us the history of Borde Hill, and about some of his ancestors who lived there – several of whom could be seen in portraits around the beautiful Dining Room. He then gave us a fascinating tour of the oldest part of the house. These rooms are generally only open to pre-booked groups. I particularly admired the gorgeous chandelier in the Dining Room and the ornate plaster ceiling and dangerously narrow Dutch furniture in the Drawing Room. Several rooms had elaborate fireplaces rescued from other houses formerly owned by the family. We gained a real sense of the house as an expression of the family history, with a tale to tell for every piece of furniture and portrait on the walls.

“We were made so welcome by everybody and had a very interesting tour of both the lovely house and beautiful gardens. The lunch provided was excellent – all home made!”
Lynne Bundock, Secretary, Spring Chickens

“We both enjoyed the day very much, from the time we were warmly greeted to the excellent tour of the garden.”
Janet Mason, Andover VIPs

“Borde Hill is a very interesting place in itself and was brought to life with both the garden visit and the house tour.”
Sue Watts, Triangle Trust Residents’ Group

After the extensive tour of the house, we had a two-course meal with wine in the Trophy Room, followed by a guided walk with Head Gardener Andy Stevens. The gardens are the glory of Borde Hill, with several garden ‘rooms’ including the Italian Garden with its pool and terracotta pots of tulips, the Rose Garden, and the Garden of Allah – a place of grand trees and huge and unusual magnolias. Horticultural innovation is still a feature of Borde Hill – with a new contemporary design being installed this year in the Round Dell by RHS Chelsea silver-medalist Sophie Walker. I was also impressed by the beautiful sculptures – part of the annual sculpture exhibition – here and there in the gardens.

With spacious grounds, beautiful gardens, good facilities, and the option of exclusive tours of the house, Borde Hill Garden offers a great day out for groups. Every GTO I spoke to was thoroughly charmed by the house and gardens, and by the warm hospitality of our hosts.

Special offers for groups of 15 or more

  • Pre-booked guided tours of Borde Hill House (open only for groups) with optional buffet lunch or cream tea.
  • Guided tours of the garden by the Head Gardener.
  • Discounts on standard entry for groups, with free admission for GTO and coach driver.
  • Borde Hill Garden is just outside Haywards Heath, West Sussex. For further information, visit