Opening the ruins to visitors

View from the ruins to the house

We’re starting work on an ambitious project to open the ruins to visitors. Over the next three years we’ll be conserving different parts of the ruins, making essential repairs and planning to open them up to visitors. We’ve already started work.

Work going ahead on the ruins
Work going ahead on the ruins

Scaffolding in the Forecourt Garden

If you visit today you’ll see scaffolding in the Forecourt  Garden allowing us to reach the remains of a chimney in the ruined Drawing Room which needs urgent attention and stabilising. From there we’ll be able to move on to reinstate a fallen ceiling inside the Entrance Hall and then, in 2018, we’ll continue with masonry repairs on what would have been the roof of the Great Hall. In 2019 we’ll move onto masonry repairs to the ruined Library which once held one of the most important and largest botanic libraries in England after the Royal Horticultural Society and the British Museum. Some books held in the collection dated back to the 15th century.  

View across the gardens from the ruins
View across the gardens from the ruins

What you’ll see

Once essential repairs are underway we can start to think about opening them up to visitors. Initially you’ll be able to get into the Great Hall which will give you a fantastic view of the garden as it was meant to be seen (from inside the house). In 2019 we'll be launching an ambitious new contemporary art project which will create a garden in the ruined Great Hall and will be open to visitors.

 After the Great Hall the Balcombe Room will be one of the first rooms that will be reopened.  Once a pleasant sitting room looking over the valley to the village of Balcombe, the room is now a shell. To make it safe the room needs a new floor and a new roof too, which in itself will cost £120,000.

Eventually the Balcombe Room will be the place where visitors will be welcomed into the house and will discover the different things they can see and do. All the ruined spaces will be opened up and although we can never return them to their former magnificence visitors will learn the stories that will bring them to life.

The rooms that are currently accessed from the main lawn will once again be joined up with the ruined Drawing Room, Library and Great Hall. Access to these rooms will be via a passage beyond the ruined Library, as it was before the fire of 1947, and the whole house will feel less fragmented.

Inside the ruined Great Hall on Open Day 2017
Inside the ruined Great Hall on Open Day 2017

How you can help

As you’d imagine a project of this scale costs a huge amount of money. As a charity the National Trust receives no statutory funding and we rely on our supporters’ generosity. You can help fund this and other projects at Nymans by:

  • Buying a £1 raffle ticket
  • Purchasing a book from our second- hand bookshop.
  • Making a donation

You could also volunteer with us and help tell people about the project.  

  • Phase 1 -2017- will cost £35,000
  • Phase 2 -2018- will cost up to £60,000
  • Phase 3  -2019- upwards of £120,000

How you can keep up to date with the project developments.

We’ll update the website with images from each stage of the project and let you know how much we’ve raised and how we’ve spent it. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook too (NymansNT)  where we’ll post project updates. You can visit us and see for yourself how the project is progressing. Although you won’t be able to see work progressing inside the ruins you’ll see scaffolding going up and will be able to ask staff and volunteers questions.  Our raffle sellers, room stewards and garden guides are particularly knowledgeable and are always happy to stop and have a chat.         

Forecourt Garden in its heyday
Forecourt Garden in its heyday

What happened to the house at Nymans?

On a freezing February night in 1947 the household woke up to find Nymans on fire. Fireman tried to fight the blaze but as the standpipes were frozen they had to pump water up from a garden pond. It just wasn’t enough to deal with the scale of the fire and Nymans, together with its precious contents, was very badly damaged. ‘Our beloved Nymans is gone. Thank God all got out unhurt. Am overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and neighbours’ Leonard Messel, Feb 20, 1947.