The Messel family - Ludwig and Anne 1890-1915

Ludwig and Annie at Nymans © Nymans Archive

Ludwig and Annie at Nymans

Nymans as we see it today is not the product of one person’s vision, but instead tells the story of four generations of one family - the Messels - and their home in Sussex.

Establishing a new life

The first generation of the Messel family to own Nymans were Ludwig and his wife, Anne. Ludwig moved to London from Germany in the middle of the 19th century and bought Nymans as his country home in 1890. A successful banker, he needed a place to escape to, away from the chaos of London.

Ludwig’s legacy at Nymans is the passion for gardening that he inspired in the generations that followed him, and his very successful partnership with Head Gardener, James Comber, who he hired in 1895.

Creating a great garden

Together, Messel and Comber designed much of the garden we still see today, with both visual effect and horticultural variety in mind. They introduced dozens of new varieties of plants from all over the world and made Nymans one of the most important gardens in England. Comber’s son, Harold, went on to become a famous plant collector, gathering exotic specimens from as far away as Chile and Tasmania.

Ludwig’s daughter Muriel was his natural successor in the garden, from a young age she had been passionate about the plants, and knew as much about them as her father and James Comber. She even had responsibility for planting and maintaining certain parts of the garden, but tragically, she died in 1918 when she was only 29.