Open every day from 30 July, 11am until 4pm with last entry at 3.30pm.
The Messel family of Nymans
There have been generations of Messels at Nymans since the 1890s. Ludwig Messel was the first Messel to live at Nymans and, as a German émigré who had set up a successful stockbroking business, the purchase of a country estate was the ideal way for him to intergrate into English society. Ludwig bought the 600 acre Nymans estate where he could cultivate his love of gardening, sharing it with family and friends. He and his wife Annie had six children with the eldest, Leonard, inheriting the estate in 1915.
Leonard, together with his wife Maud, set about transforming Nymans into the house we see here today. Their children Linley, Oliver and Anne spent much of their childhood at Nymans. As an adult in the 1940s and 1950s Oliver become a famous theatre designer and Anne married into the aristocracy with her marriage to the Earl of Rosse. One of her sons was the Earl of Snowdon who married Princess Margaret.
Fire in 1947
Most of the house was destroyed by fire in 1947, tragically only 19 years after building work finished. With rationing and restrictions on building materials still in place after the end of the Second World War, it was simply impossible for the family to rebuild. What survived of the house was made safe for the family to use as a base when visiting the magnificent garden. Lord and Lady Rosse would visit here often and Anne moved back permanently in 1979 to a partially ruined house.
What to see
Although much of the house was lost to the fire in the winter of 1947, surviving rooms include the Garden Hall, Dining Room, Book Room and Library. Look out for paintings by stage designer Oliver Messel, family photographs and a collection of books, many of which relate to gardening. Throughout the year the Broadwood piano in the Garden Hall is played by volunteers, filling the intimate spaces of the house with atmospheric music.