National Trust- Nymans

At the beginning of the New Year, I found a discount code in a supermarket magazine for The National Trust, the discount code gave you their £10 a month joint membership for two people and then included a complimentary £10 gift card once you set up your membership. I used to go to a lot of national trust places with my parents as a child and I have great memories of visiting amazing places on the weekends, when speaking to my partner he loved the idea of visiting all these amazing properties and nature walks that come with the membership, so we joined!! 
Within a couple of weeks we got our fancy membership cards which entitle us to free entry and parking at almost all the national trust sites as well as a beautiful annual handbook full of all the sites they own and maintain as well as plenty of information and helpful knowledge about each one...and of course our £10 gift card! We very quickly made a list of where we wanted to go and Nymans was the first one! 

So we finally made it to Nymans which is a huge mansion set in the West Sussex countryside and includes the house, a massive expanse of gardens, as well as woodland and a lake. We parked in the car park (for free as we're members!) and although it was busy there was plenty of space and an overflow car park. We came through the entrance and went straight to the walk that takes you up to the house, just a word of warning here, although the ground was properly paved it does go up and down a few slightly steep hills and takes around 15-20 mins to walk from the entrance up to the house. It's a lovely walk and I highly recommend it if you're able to, to see the start of the amazing gardens carefully cultivated by the original owner; Mr. Messel. 


On the National Trust website, they call the Nyman's gardens "a garden for all seasons" and they weren't wrong, we went just before Valentine's Day and you can see the beginnings of flower buds and new green on the trees and bushes as we walked through. 
As you come round the corner from the entrance you're greeted by a huge expanse of open field which we read on a sign is being turned into a wildflower meadow and hopefully, when we come back at the end of summer, this will be at full bloom! 


We finally made it through the little stone courtyard and up to the house. The forecourt was amazing, it was full of huge fruit trees and shrubs that towered against the ruins of the old house, I even spotted these little bananas that seemed to be growing quite happily in the early February weather. 

Now, I'll tell you the story of the Nyman's house. Nymans was originally a "plain" Regency-style house built around 1839 by the architect George Harrington (if I lived in that style of house I'd feel like a queen...but anyway). The Messel family moved to the estate from Germany to England in 1890 and being of Jewish descent, apparently, there wasn't the warmest welcome for them in this country when they arrived. But regardless, Annie Messel told her husband Ludwig that she wasn't fond of the house and wanted it to be re-built. Of course, he obliged and asked his brother Albert (who was a very famous German architect at the time) to draw up some plans. They then built a very traditional German-looking mansion with high wooden balconies and a tower in the centre of the house that some locals tried to accuse the Messe'sl of using for spying but of course, there was no evidence to these claims. 

After Ludwig died and his son Leonard inherited the property in 1915, the only way he could get his wife into the house was to completely redesign it for her!... I'm sensing a theme from these wives, haha! So from the German mansion that once existed, the new Messel family built a beautiful Tudor-style stone house with large wooden doors, imposing stone archways, and sandstone and brick throughout, personally, I prefer this style and despite its tragic story, the majority of the house stood the test of time. 


Throughout the house, you can still see the original features and family trinkets that make this grand place a home. But unfortunately, you're only able to visit a small fraction of the house as the majority of it was destroyed by a huge fire in 1947. We were told that it was in the early hours of the morning, all the family and staff managed to escape with no fatalities or injuries, even their most loyal butler Mr. Wells was running in and out of the house to bring out some of their most treasured items. As the fire brigade arrived they weren't able to stop the flames as the water from the hoses was freezing on impact at the house because the weather was so cold, eventually, it burnt itself out but the family lost all but 3-4 rooms of their beautiful new house, as well as some of their most treasured possessions. 
A bit of a weird thing to have in the house, the National Trust had put one of the old hoses from that time (no idea whether it's real or not) in the middle of the hallway as you leave the house, I guess it's just a historical artifact but I thought it was a bit insensitive. 


As you leave the house and go into The Messel's Library, you really get a sense that it was a family home, although it's obviously grand and nothing like how most of us live, this relatively small library with old chairs, cosy fireplace, and brik-a-brak around the room, really gives you a sense of how they used to live. You can also see in the picture above, one of the original doors that led into another room before it was destroyed, this door was massive and well over 100 years old, I think the architect did a really good job on this to make it look like something you'd see in a Tudor castle!

Because the fire happened during wartime, the family weren't able to get the materials they needed to ever fully repair the property, the family moved elsewhere but had the house made secure so they could stay for small periods of time when they wanted to visit the gardens. The house was sold into the care of The National Trust in 1953 by Lord and Lady Rosse (Lady Rosse was formerly Anne Messel, the daughter of Leonard and Maud) who would visit the house all the time until 1979 when Lady Rosse moved back into the ruins permanently and lived there until she passed away in 1992. 


This is technically the back entrance that leads from a small kitchen/staff area, through the library, and into the start of the gardens. Despite its sad ending, the house still is beautiful and because of its story I can understand why Anne wanted to be there, I would probably have done the same. From the pretty courtyard, you walk through this arch which apparently used to have an amazing door attached to it (you can see the hinges on the right-hand side), but due to damage and the cost of fixing it, The National Trust hasn't been able to restore it yet. 


Through the arch we headed into the main gardens that had been carefully created by three generations of the Messel family but had really got its bearings when Leonard Messel started looking after it, this is how we see the "garden for all seasons" today, it features flowers, shrubs, plants, and trees all carefully planted together to bloom at certain times of the year in certain parts of the garden, so no matter where you walk, there's always something to look at. Now, The National Trust is keeping this going and when we visited, the Rose Garden had just been clipped back, so although there were no roses you could see the new buds just starting to form!
We also saw these really cute British wildlife art pieces that were made from birch/willow cuttings and shaped into robins and badgers...so cute! 


We made our way underneath this beautiful archway, and through the winding garden paths. You can really see all the work the National Trust team puts into this property and its grounds, the gardens are spotless with no weeds or leaves left on the paths, there are certain wildlife areas where obviously small mammals and bugs can safely live but throughout most of the grounds, it's spotless. 

This next bit was one of the most exciting bits for me and one of the reasons we actually ended up going to Nymans in the first place...they have a second-hand bookshop! Tucked away in a quiet, shaded corner of the gardens is a little garage/shed, once you step inside it's full of donated books and incredibly cosy thanks to the log burner they placed inside. 


There were all sorts of books from fiction to non-fiction, children's, YA, self-help, gardening, cooking, and sewing, basically, just about anything you're looking for, they even had some specialty signed and antique books as well but they were a bit out of my budget. I, of course, found a James Patterson novel, it was an early one and one I'd been looking for for a while, I only had to pay £2 for it, and you could pay with card! I'm actually reading that James Patterson book now, so once I've finished and written the review, I'll remind you all where I got it from. 

And that was it for our visit to Nymans this time, we didn't get to the woodland or lake, purely because we were a bit tired after having seen all the great things I just mentioned so we headed off to the little cafe near the entrance to spend our £10 gift card! Because of the gift card we were able to have a little feast; I had a cheese and onion pasty and a fruit tea, while my partner had a classic cornish pasty and a coffee then we shared a lovely thick slice of lemon sponge cake! I think my partner paid £6 extra so all of that was around £16 (I know, the cafe at each National Trust is always VERY expensive, so be warned). Although expensive, it was delicious and definitely filled us up. 

Our last stop before heading home was to the gift shop! There was loads of choice here as there always is at National Trust places, there was a whole range of plants, pots, garden decorations, and gardening tools as well as blankets, hats, t-shirts, glasses, and mugs, but I went for a classic fridge magnet and National Trust pin badge, as we're rapidly running out of space on the fridge I thought I'd start collecting little pin badges too so I can pin them on the front of my rucksack as another little memento!


We had a brilliant time at Nymans and I'm so happy we have our National Trust membership that lasts the whole year so we can have these little adventures to so many different places whenever we want! If you don't have a membership the entry fee to Nymans is £15 for an adult and £7.50 for a child so you can see how the £10 a month membership pays for itself each time you visit. If you are thinking of getting out and about more either on your own, with a friend or partner, or with your family, The National Trust has always been a go-to first thought for me when planning days out, they have over 500 properties throughout the UK as well as woodland and coastal walks too if you just prefer a little time outside. 
Obviously, this is all off my own back The National Trust doesn't know I'm writing about them and they didn't ask me to say anything but I just wanted to spread a little info and positivity about them in case you didn't know or didn't realize how affordable the membership is! 

A little fun fact for you to end the post; we chose to visit Nymans not only because it looked beautiful, wasn’t too far away, and had an interesting story...it’s also my partner's (and soon to be my) last name, I mean his is spelled slightly differently but it’s said in exactly the same way so it was kind of funny to go somewhere that had his same surname, especially as it’s not a very common surname as well. 
I also found out whilst we were there that they hold weddings there and I thought how annoying,  maybe we could have a sneaked a discounted or even free wedding for the “Nimans” to get married at “Nymans” haha! 

In my next post I'll be making another World Series recipe, and this time we're trying out some food from Qatar! 

H x 

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