Skip to content

Our conservation work projects at Standen

Arts and Crafts design soft furnishings, including cushions, a rug, and curtains, in The Drawing Room at Standen House, West Sussex
Arts and Crafts design soft furnishings, including cushions, a rug, and curtains, in the Drawing Room at Standen House, West Sussex | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Conservation is continually at the forefront of the work we do at Standen. Whether it’s inside the house caring for the important Arts and Crafts interior and collection, outside working on the restored garden or creating wildlife-rich habitats out on the estate, this is the backbone of our work in looking after this special place. Over the past few years, significant conservation projects have further enhanced Standen. Read on to find out more about the work your support helps us continue doing.

Conservation in the house

Back in 1894, the Beale family employed an army of servants, with generations of housemaids looking after the house in the decades to come. Today, we have a much smaller team of staff and volunteers who care for the house and collection.

We used to put the house to bed at the end of October for a deep clean and condition check that would take place over the winter. Today we carry out conservation all year round.

Conserving the Morris & Co. carpet

There are a number of coverings that we use to protect the precious floor from the thousands of feet that walk through the house each year. None are more important than the huge Morris & Co. carpet in the Drawing Room. Designed by J.H. Dearle, Morris & Co.’s chief designer, and made at the Merton Abbey Mills, it is a spectacular carpet and in very good condition for its age.

Finding a solution

After covering it with a temporary carpeted walkway for a number of years, the decision was made to have an Eyemat floor covering printed. An Eyemat is a very detailed set of digital photographs printed on mats and stitched together to recreate the floor underneath. In this way, the design and décor of the room is complete, as it was when the Beale family lived here, but the carpet itself is protected.

So, what you are walking on is exactly the same as what is underneath the protective flooring – if you don’t look too closely you might think that you are walking on the carpet itself.

Conservation in the Garden and Estate

From yearly coppicing and land management to a five-year project to restore the gardens at Standen, our team of gardeners and rangers have been hard at work restoring the garden and estate to its original glory.

Path improvements, summer 2023

This summer, our rangers are improving paths through Hollybush Wood by adding local sandstone and ironstone to the trail. This will mean that, come winter, the ground will be more stable and the paths less muddy and more accessbile. During this time, access may be restricted to allow works to be carried out safely, so please be aware that some footpaths might be closed when you visit.

Restoring an Arts and Crafts garden

A five-year restoration project on the historically important Arts and Crafts garden at Standen was completed in 2017. The restoration project was designed to bring back to life a series of outdoor rooms created by Margaret Beale, who was an accomplished gardener and plants-woman. These areas included a scented rose garden – the Rosery – and a lime tree walk, along with more exotic areas with bamboo, ponds and lush foliage.

What was restored?

Following extensive research, the Garden Revival project began in 2012 and is one of the biggest undertaken in the National Trust. The scope of the project was wide-reaching and included:

  • The restoration of the original swimming pond and rose garden growing Margaret Beale’s coveted China pink roses.
  • The creation of a fine oak trellis rebuilt to the original design by Philip Webb. The trellis is a feature in one of Arts and Crafts designer William Morris’s wallpaper designs which is used in the house.
  • Lime trees reinstated along Grandfather’s Walk.
  • The introduction of 10,000 extra tulips, including rare varieties.
  • The restoration of the kitchen garden and the original espaliered apple trees.
  • New views opened from the top terrace across to the Ashdown Forest.
  • New Arts and Crafts inspired planting in the house courtyard.
  • The medieval quarry face revealed alongside the drive, which inspired the Beales to build Standen in this location.

Highlights from the garden restoration

Kitchen Garden

The reinstatement of the Kitchen Garden saw the installation of large beds of fruits and vegetables, plus cages for delicate soft fruits. Four particularly endearing Bramley apple espalier trees, planted when the house was built in the 1890s, remain and still provide a plentiful crop every autumn. Bees have been re-introduced to the Orchard and the Kitchen Garden.

A scarecrow is seen in the Kitchen Garden at Standen in West Sussex
Scarecrow in the Kitchen Garden at Standen, West Sussex | © National Trust Images/Gary Coshan

Croquet Lawn

Progressing down the Farm Track, the summer house on the Croquet Lawn was renovated and many of the invasive laurels and rhododendrons were removed from the bank which managed to reveal views of the house once more.


The area with the greatest transformation, just beyond the Croquet Lawn, is the Rosery. Formerly the Bamboo Garden, it inspired the entire project with the discovery of steps and a retaining wall around the swimming pond. Originally this was the Beale’s rose garden. Mrs Beale was on a continual quest to try to find – and successfully grow – a China pink rose, meeting many of the challenges that the Trust faces today. Now the formal rose garden, sun dial, sweeping oak trellis and reinstated swimming pond (which the Beale grandchildren used to swim in), offers a tranquil spot to admire her most loved China pink roses.

Grandfather’s Walk

When James Beale became too frail to reach the upper areas of the garden, around 1910, Grandfather’s Walk was cut into the slope and a shaded path created by the planting of 13 limes with a summerhouse to relax in at the end by the Ha-Ha. The limes were replanted, repairs made to the stone walls and exuberant planting, loved by Margaret Beale, added round the base of the trees.

House Terrace

The oak trellis was rebuilt by Standen’s volunteers, following Philip Webb’s original design, with old photographs for reference. The design is very important as it reappears in the William Morris wallpaper designs. A new planting scheme was added which follows Mrs Beale’s philosophy of experimenting with new plants, just as she would have done.

A lawn peppered with the pink and purple flower heads of tulips making a sea of colour across the grass at Standen in West Sussex
A sea of tulips at Standen | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Rock Top Walk

A completely new area of the garden was also opened up as part of the garden restoration. High up above the rocks, tucked behind the house, is Rock Top Walk. Formerly this area was densely planted and overgrown with cherry laurel. A meandering path through the trees now takes you to viewing platforms on top of the rocks where you can look across to the views of the Weald and down onto the chimneys and stable yard for a different perspective of Standen. Here you’ll discover a contemporary artwork, Bothy, by Will Shannon, which interprets the Arts and Crafts legacy.

Sandstone rocks

As you drive into Standen, the outcrop of Ardingly sandstone rocks, which inspired the Beale family to build the house here, are visible again.

Goose Green

Goose Green has been kept rural to reflect its original farmyard purpose. The introduction of new planting in the cottage garden, wall supports for the pear trees and children’s games sets make it a charmingly welcoming space.

View from the Top Terrace acros the High Weald, Standen House and Garden, West Sussex


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate today and you could help people and nature to thrive at the places we care for.

You might also be interested in

Partial view of the house at Standen House and Garden, West Sussex

The history of Standen House and Garden 

Find out more about this modern home with historic influences and charming Arts and Crafts workmanship, designed and built for the Beale family at Standen in West Sussex.

Arts and Crafts design soft furnishings, including cushions, a rug, and curtains, in The Drawing Room at Standen House, West Sussex

The house at Standen 

Explore the family home of the Beales, designed by Philip Webb and furnished throughout by Morris & Co fabrics and wallpapers. An Arts and Crafts inspired comfortable country retreat.

The exterior of the arts and crafts house at Standen in West Sussex surrounded by rhododendrons in bloom

A history of the Beale family 

Discover the Beale family, who commissioned Standen to be designed and built by architect Philip Webb .

A man looking down the guard around a tree sapling, in a landscape dotted with other newly planted trees

Our cause 

We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.

A group of people walking along a grassy path through an avenue of trees in full leaf

For everyone, for ever: our strategy to 2025 

Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.