Chelsea Brighton
May, 2006

This tour ran May 18-26th and we stayed at the Copthorne Effingham in the Brighton area as well as The Rubens in London. The Rubens is located right across the street from the Mews at Buckingham Palace and is a very popular hotel. My guests have always loved the location and the ambience.

We met at the Rubens and were transferred out to the Copthorne. It was in the country in a very lovely and quiet area surrounded by gardens and golf course. We enjoyed our welcome dinner then off to bed.

After a sightseeing tour of some of the area surrounding Brighton, including Rottingdean where Rudyard Kipling lived, we toured Brighton on the 19th, nestled between the South Downs and the Channel of England’s sunny south coast we visited the Royal Pavilion Brighton.

The Royal Pavilion grew over 35 years from a simple farmhouse to a spectacular palace. In 1787 Henry Holland extended the original farmhouse into a neo-classical building know as the 'Marine Pavilion'. From 1815-1823 John Nash used new technology to transform the Pavilion into the Indian style building that exists today. He enlarged the building and added the domes and design by superimposing a cast iron framework over Holland's Marine Pavilion. The Royal Pavilion's lavish interiors combine Chinese-style decorations with magnificent furniture and furnishings. Adorned with gilded dragons, carved palm trees and imitation bamboo staircases, the Palace's unique style mixes Asian exoticism with English eccentricity. Daring and inventive colours feature throughout, and there are many original items on loan from HM The Queen. Royal Pavilion's lavish interiors combine Chinese-style decorations with magnificent furniture and furnishings. You will have to see the chandelier in the banqueting hall to believe it!

Architect John Nash conceived the Royal Pavilion and gardens as a whole. The gardens reflect the great revolution in landscape gardening that began in the 1730s. Formal layouts of straight lines and symmetrical shapes were replaced with curving paths, natural groups of trees and shrubs and picturesque views. Nash's scheme was destroyed in the 19th century by a tarmac road and later planting, but a recent restoration programme has returned the grounds as closely as possible to Nash's 1820s plans. Plant species and varieties have been selected using the original lists of plants supplied to George IV.

The Museum (housed in the old stables) has a wonderful little café overlooking part of the Museum where you can have a bite of lunch. The scones were the best I had ever tasted

We also enjoyed some free time to wander around Brighton before leaving for…

Borde Hill Gardens (starts with the metal salamander and ends with seahorse) is a stunningly beautiful and botanically rich heritage Garden, set within 150 acres of traditional parkland. It captivates and delights visitors throughout each season of the year with a series of intimate ‘living garden rooms’, fine woodland, open parkland, lakes and outstanding views across the magnificent Sussex High Weald. Located close to Haywards Heath, Borde Hill was created in the early 1900s - the era of the Great Plant Hunters - a legacy which today’s visitors continue to experience.

Borde Hill Gardens has been voted garden of the year by the Historic Houses Association (HHA). The garden has been nurtured by four generations of the Stephenson Clarke family. It is still evolving through the hard work of Andrew John Stephenson Clarke, his wife Eleni, and Harvey Stephens, the head gardener, and his team of six. The annual award is sponsored by Christie’s and the HHA. The prize is decided through the votes of the 25,000 friends of the association and aims to recognize the importance of gardens in their own right or as the setting for an historic house.

The garden in 2005 celebrated 40 years of being open to the public. We had the pleasure of meeting Eleni again this year. She met us and took us around the gardens as well as a bit of the house. You can see someother pictures of the gardens by going to the Pix area on the site and clicking on Brighton 2004.

At the heart of the garden Borde Hill House, a Tudor mansion dating from 1580, provides a superb backdrop to the formal 17-acre Garden which flows into a series of linked ‘garden rooms’, each boasts its own distinctive character and style. Over the past century the plantings have evolved with the vision of providing visitors with year-round colour and interest to complement the early spring colour of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias and Magnolias. The sub-tropical Dells have an air of tropical mystery, and sheltered areas within a mature landscape bring unexpected delights to the visitors. This visit included some incredible sculptures nestled in amongst the plantings.




  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row