Reinventing Borde Hill

Connecting communities with the restorative power of nature

A Community-led Project

Reinventing Borde Hill forms a key part of our wider future vision to connect communities with the restorative power of nature, helping local people feel mentally and physically replenished, and inspiring future generations through outdoor learning.

As an Estate with a rich botanical heritage, we are planning for the future while safeguarding our nationally important collection of rare plants and trees for generations to come. We care passionately about our natural environment and this project will enable us to unlock 110 acres of listed heritage parkland to new and diverse audiences, while enhancing the biodiversity that lies within the South Park and beyond.

Initial support* of £231,000 was awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in June 2022 to help us progress our plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant. Over the past 18 months we have progressed the design of the plans in close consultation with the local community. We have spoken to over 800 schools, groups, charities and individuals, and worked closely with local community groups to ensure that the plans respond to the needs of the local community.

Following submission of our planning application to MSDC, we submitted our Round Two application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in February 2024. If we are successful in our application, we will begin work on the next phase later this year.

Our aim is to ‘reinvent’ Borde Hill’s South Park as a thriving destination for the 21st Century while honouring and celebrating our rich and important botanical history. This will be achieved through a broader appreciation of our heritage via learning, engagement and wellbeing activities, and the provision of new facilities in the South Park which will offer a series of educational and community programmes to engage a new and diverse local audience.

View of cattle in the Parkland  Image John Glover
The Growers Project. Image: Julie Skelton

Our Vision

We know that access to outdoor spaces has huge benefits for wellbeing, but that easily accessible community facilities and outdoor spaces can be hard to find. We’re developing plans to open up new areas of Borde Hill to visitors in a sustainable and accessible way, with new facilities that will allow communities to learn, play, and reconnect with nature.

Through the project we will:

  • Encourage and facilitate outdoor learning, discovery and play for children and young people
  • Provide activities which will allow more people to access and experience the mental and physical benefits of being in nature
  • Work with diverse groups across the local community, including those with disabilities, and others who may find it difficult to access outdoor spaces
  • Make a positive environmental impact, encouraging natural biodiversity, educating our visitors about our natural heritage, and protecting against climate change with sustainable best practice

Our Key Pillars

The South Park is the focus for this project, and features Grade II* heritage listed parkland, tranquil lakes, medieval grassland, and ancient woodland, making it an ideal setting for wellbeing and learning activities. 

Reinventing Borde Hill will enable us to address accessibility issues and bring our vision of wellbeing, learning and connection with nature to more people in our community.

Key elements of the project include: 

  • A cycle / pedestrian route creating car-free access from Haywards Heath and its train station for the first time, making us one of the few visitor gardens in Sussex to be accessible with ease via public transport, and encouraging green travel 
  • An all-year-round Eco Lodge on the edge of tranquil Robertsmere Lake serving as a visitor and community hub, with learning and wellbeing spaces, toilets, showers and a café. Visitors will be able to enjoy wellbeing activities including wild swimming in the lake, forging a close connection with nature in this peaceful lakeside environment
  • With discovery, play and exploration at its heart, Dinosaur Wood will be a space for outdoor learning, inspiring children and young people of all ages through nature. Visitors will be able explore the journey of Borde Hill since the age of the dinosaurs, and learn about the evolution of flora and fauna in a truly inspiring setting
  • The Growers Community Garden and Propagation Project will be situated at Sugworth Farm, to the East of the South Park. The Growers Community Garden will highlight the importance of biodynamic, locally grown produce and good horticultural practice, enabling community groups and individuals to connect with nature, while the Propagation Project will safeguard our nationally important plant collection for generations to come 
  • Interpretation exploring the significance of our botanical history, and an established learning and volunteers programme will see initiatives across propagation, growing, outdoor learning and environmental sustainability
South Park and the lakes at Borde Hill. Image Nick Barrie
The Growers Project. Image Jule Skelton

Our Values

Our values guide our work. We strive for Borde Hill to benefit broad and diverse members of the community, and we seek to achieve this by keeping the following values central to our plans:

  • Growing the next Generation of nature lovers: we believe that the great outdoors is the perfect place to learn and inspire future generations through play, while educating about the importance of our natural world. Simply being outside and using our senses puts children and young people into a more curious, inquisitive frame of mind. Opportunities to play with and in a natural setting allow children to discover, explore and be inspired
  • The importance of wellbeing: research shows that just five minutes spent in nature can improve people’s sense of self-esteem and mood. We know that access to nature is incredibly valuable for everyone’s mental and physical health, and that wellbeing activities within a natural setting have a double benefit 
  • Building a sustainable future: we are committed to playing our part by communicating and educating people about climate change, taking action to reduce carbon emissions, expanding our carbon capture, and enhancing biodiversity. Our EcoLodge and landscape design will follow sustainable design best practices which we hope will inspire others
  • Sharing our heritage of discovery: as a registered Grade II* heritage Garden and Parkland, Borde Hill is of great historic significance and we are known for our extensive botanical collection and rare plants from around the world. Conservation of our important landscape will be coupled with opening-up new areas, so that our spaces can be shared and enjoyed by diverse visitors both young and old

Get Involved

We are working closely with local groups, volunteers, and schools to develop plans for this project, ensuring we genuinely connect with our community. We have already spoken to over 60 local stakeholders and have formed an Advisory Group of key organisations, schools and charities to help inform our ongoing work. 

If you’d like to get involved we would love to hear from you: 

  • Volunteer with us: Would you like to volunteer for our Growers Project at Sugworth Farm, or join our valued team of Garden Volunteers? 
  • Schools and Community Groups: Are you interested in working with us to develop activities and future partnerships? 

To express your interest in getting involved, please email us at [email protected].

Harry Baldwin - Head of Horticulture at Borde Hill.

Our Supporters

Our project is kindly supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, John Swire 1989 Charitable Trust, the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation, and the Christopher Rowbotham Charitable Trust.

We are also working with a number of local and national organisations as we develop our plans:

    Support Us

    As a small, independent Charity, we rely on your kind generosity to help fund our projects and to continue to grow sustainably, protecting our natural heritage for generations to come.

    Reinventing Borde Hill is our most ambitious project to date, and your support will help us to achieve these exciting plans and meaningfully benefit our local community.

    It would make a huge difference if you would consider supporting us by making a donation – thank you.

    More Information

    *National Lottery Heritage Fund grant applications over £250,000 are assessed in two rounds. Reinventing Borde Hill has initially been granted round one development funding of £231,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans. Detailed proposals are then considered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award.

    Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

    Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

    Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK.

    Discover the Possibilities

    A family next to the water feature in the Rose Garden at Borde Hill during summer.

    Become a Member

    Membership is your ticket to enjoy unlimited access to the Garden, Parkland and Woodland throughout the open season. Our members also receive free entry to a number of exciting events, from live music in the Garden to Specialist Plant Fairs and much more. Family Membership provides unlimited access to the Adventure Playground and free school holiday trails.

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    Italian Garden at Borde Hill. Image: Molly Hollman

    Our Garden & Grounds

    Set within 383 acres of heritage listed Parkland, our formal Garden captivates and delights visitors with a series of intimate 'Garden rooms'. Beyond the formal Garden you can explore Woodland walks, the South Park and our lakes with outstanding views across the Sussex High Weald.

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    A misty atmospheric view of trees in North Park at Borde Hill with cows in the distance.

    Support Us

    As a small, independent Garden Charity, we rely on your kind generosity to help fund our projects and to continue to grow sustainably, protecting our natural heritage for generations to come. 'Reinventing Borde Hill' is our most ambitious project to date and your support will help us to achieve exciting plans to benefit our local community.

    It would make a huge difference if you would consider supporting us by making a donation – thank you.

    Read more

    Follow @bordehillgarden to stay up to date with the latest Garden happenings

    Tag us using #bordehillgarden