New contemporary glasshouse and interconnecting gardens at Woolbeding

Contemporary glasshouse at Woolbeding Gardens

We are supporting The Woolbeding Charity in the development of a bespoke new glasshouse and gardens which will offer visitors a chance to learn about the plants brought to Europe along the historic Silk Route.

Designed by Heatherwick Studio, this striking ten-sided ‘kinetic’ glasshouse, sensitively set in a specially landscaped series of garden zones, will exhibit flowers, shrubs and trees that depict the key regions of the Silk Route. This route from Asia to Europe was used to bring the many plants that characterise English gardens and parks.

Artist’s impression of the new glasshouse planned for Woolbeding Gardens
Contemporary glasshouse at Woolbeding Gardens
Artist’s impression of the new glasshouse planned for Woolbeding Gardens

The late Simon Sainsbury and his partner Stewart Grimshaw, who still lives at Woolbeding, restored the house and gardens over three decades, introducing many classic and contemporary elements.

The Woolbeding Charity has recently been established as the residuary charity for the work of The Monument Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts that was founded by Simon Sainsbury and which supported many charitable causes.  Since 1965, funding of more than £20 million has been allocated to help care for nearly twenty National Trust houses, collections, gardens and parks, including Woolbeding. 

" The Glasshouse will be new, but it is also a restoration of a celebrated feature in Woolbeding’s history. It will thus be a crowning achievement in a new tradition of contemporary design to recover life, beauty and pleasure for visitors."
- Mark Woodruff, The Woolbeding Charity

Mark Woodruff, The Woolbeding Charity: 'The Glasshouse will be new, but it is also a restoration of a celebrated feature in Woolbeding’s history.  It will thus be a crowning achievement in a new tradition of contemporary design to recover life, beauty and pleasure for visitors. Once Woolbeding’s gardens and glasshouse displays brought nineteenth century society to meet in what Disraeli called “the loveliest valley”. 

'Joining the William Pye water sculpture and a noble neo-classical folly, both monuments to succeed fallen great trees, the Heatherwick glasshouse and new gardens will invite today’s visitors onto a road from temperate Europe across arid lands and high pastures to sub-tropical China to discover the plants of Asia that have for ever defined gardening in England.'

The bespoke new glasshouse and gardens will celebrate the plants of the historic Silk Route
Contemporary glasshouse at Woolbeding Gardens
The bespoke new glasshouse and gardens will celebrate the plants of the historic Silk Route

General Manager Adam Hastie: ‘The new glasshouse and gardens will continue the journey to restore and re-imagine various structures and spaces at Woolbeding, offering a garden for the 21st century that respects its historic past. I am delighted we have now secured planning permission to enable work to start on this project.

" The new glasshouse and gardens will continue the journey to restore and re-imagine various structures and spaces at Woolbeding, offering a garden for the 21st century that respects its historic past."
- Adam Hastie, General Manager

‘Stewart Grimshaw’s vision will not only create an exciting new structure within a beautifully landscaped space, but the meandering garden zones will be a fascinating way for our visitors to enjoy both familiar and new plant species of the Silk Route in their natural settings.’

The new glasshouse will open to visitors in spring 2021.