Borde Hill –
A Fascinating History of Discovery
Our Beginnings: 1598-1893
Borde Hill House is built
The picturesque Elizabethan Mansion House was built in 1598 by Stephen Borde, the grandson of Henry VIII’s private herbalist and physician Andrew Borde.
Stephen built his mansion in the Elizabethan style using local sandstone on its commanding site in the High Weald, surrounded by small fields and ancient woodlands. He planted orchards and herbaceous beds for medicinal plants. Rich inlaid wood and plaster work, and a fine drop ceiling in the drawing room were installed by Italian craftsmen, while over the fireplace in an upstairs bedroom are the initials ‘S.B.’ and the date, 1601.
Stephen’s initials can be seen in the stonework of the west porch (the original front door), with 1598, the year of the house’s construction.
Stephen Borde is knighted
Stephen Borde is knighted by King James I.
The Estate is extended
The Estate was considerably enlarged when William, grandson of Sir Stephen Borde, inherited the property and the adjoining land which belonged to his wife Mary Burrell, heiress of John Burrell, a wealthy Cuckfield landowner.
The Borde Family sell the House and Estate
The House and its 200 acres is sold to Walter Gatland (of Nymans) for £2,382, who extends the house.
The Borde family move further along the Ouse Valley to their larger property, Paxhill Park, built by Ninian Borde in the 1560s.
Direct descendants of Stephen Borde die out in Sussex.
The House is further extended.
Borde Hill House passes through several hands, during which time the house is further extended.
Borde Hill House is sold again.
Borde Hill House is sold again. A watercolour from the sale catalogue shows the railway viaduct in the background which was built in 1843. A parterre and croquet lawn can also be seen in front of the house.
Borde Hill estate sold to Stephenson Robert Clarke (Stephie)
A Mrs Cunliffe Lister sells the Borde Hill estate to Stephenson Robert Clarke (1862-1948). Heir to the Stephenson Clarke shipping firm, he bought Borde Hill with the sole intention of creating a great garden. The Colonel began collecting plants soon after he acquired the Estate.
When he bought Borde Hill it only had 8 acres of land. Over the next fifty years he increased his land holding to 21,000 acres, creating the formal plantings in the Garden, and planting extensively in selected woodlands around the estate where their microclimates were especially suitable for more tropical flora and fauna.