The house which is an English Heritage Grade 1 listed property is not open to the Public and when the present owner moved in, in 1996, she set about completely renovating the extremely run-down House and also clearing the large overgrown four and a half acre gardens.
To the front of the house are The Tudor Gardens with Box parterres which surround masses of sweet smelling lavender. Head Gardener, Jamie advised that the best time to prune Box is on Derby Day when frosts are over and there is no harsh sunshine.
We gazed at the magnificent medieval Tower House which was built in 1410 by William Ryman who was a prominent merchant and lawyer. The building has an interesting association with the Bell Tower of Chichester Cathedral which is known as ‘Ryman’s Tower’. They are both constructed from stone from the quarries in Bembridge and Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.
Henry IV (also known as Henry Bolingbroke) was on the throne at the time and he gave permission for William Ryman to build the house. William Ryman became a Knight of the Shire (Sussex) in 1420 and High Sheriff of Sussex in 1434.
Having admired The Tudor Gardens we walked down some steps through high hedges to a lovely secluded garden with ponds surrounded by a clever mix of shrubs and perennials.
One very showy shrub was a large leaved, silver Pittosporum, quite unlike what we have become used to seeing. Interestingly the
dwarf version of the bi-coloured
Pittosporum was used as an edging plant and trimmed to around 2 ft. We admired a 400 year old evergreen, multi-stemmed oak with a 20 ft circumference. Unfortunately, it doesn’t qualify for the record as it is not a single stem tree. The record for this goes to an oak with a circumference 12 ft.
We looked at the old pump outside the original kitchen dating back to 1798. We marvelled at the very impressive avenue of Poplar trees and listened to their ‘whispering’ leaves . We learned that the wood from Poplar trees makes the finest kindling and the wood from the Foxglove Tree is used to make cigar boxes!
We ended our tour by walking along the herbaceous borders with their everlasting wallflowers, giant scabious, which were attracting a mass of bees, flame coloured Geum, sweet smelling roses, and the old faithfuls, purple/blue bearded Iris and ‘Johnson’s Blue geraniums.
We all agreed that Jamie Clarke was an excellent guide, extremely knowledgeable and with a clear love for the garden which is an ever evolving journey for him and the owners of Rymans.
Photographs by kind permission of