William, Earl De La Warr and his wife Anne and their family invite you to share their ancestral home.

The Sackville family’s ancestral motto “Jour De Ma Vie” translates as “Day of My Life” which is how we hope you will remember your visit to Buckhurst.

Buckhurst Estate has been owned by the Sackville family for some 900 years and the house, Buckhurst Park, is still a much loved family home. Herbrand de Sauqueville, a follower of William the Conqueror, settled in Sussex and his grandson married Ela de Dene, heiress of the Manor of Buckhurst where their descendants still live.

A close connection with Queen Elizabeth 1st was established through a marriage with Margaret Boleyn, Anne Boleyn’s aunt, and the Queen soon promoted her cousin Thomas Sackville to the titles Lord Buckhurst and Earl of Dorset, later to become Dukes of Dorset and Earls De La Warr.

A royal connection has been continued by HM Queen Victoria, HM King Edward VII, HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the late HRH Princess Margaret, and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who all visited and planted trees.

Unique History of the Gardens and Estate

The origins of the current house at Buckhurst date from 1603, although it has been improved and altered at various stages since then. Most notably, the park was laid out by Humphry Repton in the eighteenth century, and in the early twentieth century, Sir Edwin Lutyens was commissioned to add a large wing and, with some planting by Gertrude Jekyll, a formal terraced garden, the greater park of the Lutyens wing was largely taken down by the 10th Earl but the gardens remain and are Lady De La Warr’s particular joy.

Perhaps the most famous part of the Estate, however, is 100 Acre Wood immortalised by A.A. Milne in Winnie the Pooh; Milne lived in Hartfield, one of the villages on the Buckhurst Estate, and Lord De La Warr’s father remembered playing with Christopher Robin and his famous bear.

The Estate Today

Today, the Estate remains very much a working one, and produces some of the finest organic meat from our herd of traditional Sussex cattle, Longhorn Cattle and Large Black Pigs. My wife, Anne, also breeds pedigree Shetland Ponies that, as the South Park Stud, are the oldest registered Shetlands in the world. The Estate hosts many outdoor pursuits including pheasant shooting, clay pigeon shooting and with the beautiful backdrop of Buckhurst Park, is the ideal choice for a wedding venue or for corporate events.

Buckhurst is a very special place to me, my wife and sons; William, Lord Buckhurst, The Hon. Edward Sackville and their wives Xenia and Sophia. The future is held secure by our four grandchildren the Hon. Billy Sackville, the Hon. Victoria Sackville, Viola Sackville and Arthur Sackville who bring great joy to the Estate.

Estate and the Sackville Family

The Sackville family first came to Withyham in 1068 as William the Conqueror had left a number of supporters in Normandy to keep order. One of these supporters was Herbrand de Sauqueville. They were granted the manor at Buckhurst following a marriage to the heiress of Buckhurst, Ela de Dene. The family lived here until the time of Elizabeth I, who was in fact a cousin of Thomas Sackville through her mother’s family, the Boleyns of Hever.

Such a connection at court allowed Thomas to amass a considerable fortune, making him able to draw up plan for a new, far more elaborate mansion on the Buckhurst estate that the then existing house,. The site that was chosen for the project was formerly used as a hunting box for the popular sport of deer coursing and despite being granted the vast palace at Knole by the Queen, Sir Thomas continued with his plans for Buckhurst. He also found himself being elevated to Lord Buckhurst and then to Earl of Dorset, although his descendants were to outrank him by becoming Dukes.

Lutyens and Jekyll Gardens surrounded by a Repton Park

Upon his death, Sir Thomas’ son, the 2nd Earl reduced his father’s original plans but still built a considerable mansion where the present house stands, He did not, however, include a formal garden. It was Arabella, Duchess of Dorset, who can be credited for the beginnings of the current gardens. She commissioned Repton to produce a “Red Book” containing designs for a formal park and gardens, which was unfortunately sold after the death of the 8th Early in the Great War.

Duchess Arabella followed the plans set out in the Red Book and commissioned a lakeside walk of shrubs and ornamental trees, complete with a boathouse from Lewis Kennedy, famous for designing the gardens at Malmaison for the Empress Josephine. Kennedy, at this time, had retired to the nearby Tunbridge Wells and Buckhurst was the only place on which he would work in England.

The death of the last Duke whilst hunting in Ireland split the Sackville family between Buckhurst and Knole. An unclear will, written by the Duke’s heiress sister (who was married to the Earl De La Warr) and a subsequent law suit directed Knole to the Duke’s second son, with Buckhurst, the older property, going to his older son and heir, as was proper.

On this inheritance the last Duke’s eldest son built an enormous Victorian wing (which was to be pulled down in 1953 by the 10th Earl) as well as commissioning James Pulham, known mainly for his work at Waddesdon Manor for the Rothschilds, to design a rockery and waterfall for the far end of the Repton Lake.

It was not until 1903 that the gardens that can be seen today were finished, with Lutynes being asked to design a formal garden, with planting advice by Gertrude Jekyll. This gives Buckhurst the unique feature of having gardens by Lutyens and Jekyll combined with a Repton Park.


The Buckhurst Estate