Painshill lights up blue in tribute to key workers

This week Painshill will be marking #ClapForOurCarers by lighting up the beautiful follies and bridges in blue. As a tribute to the NHS and all key workers, the Painshill team joins the nation in applauding those working hard in the fight against COVID-19.

Above photography by Oliver Dixon

Lighting up the landscape is only possible due to Prestige Sound and Light who are helping for no charge with Lighting With Intent. Painshill like to thank them for their support.

Everyone at Painshill would like to thank all those working to keep us safe at this difficult time. Please get involved by applauding key workers from your doorstep, balcony or window at 8pm.

A number of regular Painshill visitors have been buying memberships to the gardens and gifting them to local NHS and key workers, as a way of supporting Painshill in their closure and offering a gesture of thanks to someone working in their community. A Painshill Family Membership gives 2 adults and up to 4 children free entry for a year to enjoy the peaceful and historic grounds. Painshill is matching every membership donated so that more families can have wonderful days out to look forward to. If you would like to find out more or nominate a key worker to receive one of these gifts please email


Join the 2.6 challenge to help to save Painshill

We hope you’re well during this unprecedented time. We’re inviting you, your family and friends to take part in The 2.6 Challenge to help to save Painshill.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on charities, like Painshill, with the loss of important income. In response, the organisers of the biggest mass-participation sports events across the country have come together to create a new campaign to raise vital funds to help to save the UK’s charities. The 2.6 Challenge launched on Sunday 26 April, which should have been the date of the 40th London Marathon.

We’re asking you to take part in an activity of your choice based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 and fundraise or donate to support Painshill via Just Giving.

This is a challenge for all ages and abilities. All you need to do is think of an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26. You could run 2.6 miles. Hop 26 times. Or walk around your garden 26 times – whatever best works for you and whatever you will enjoy the most.

It’s really important to act now – time is of the essence! Please make sure that you register your challenge or donation on the 2.6 link here, as there is also a central pot which will be shared between charities. Making your donation or fundraising go even further.

We know that many of you have already donated, bought Painshill products online, helped deliver wine and gin, and much more and we are extremely grateful. This new campaign is a great way to invite your friends and family to join you in supporting Painshill. Anything you raise will make a huge difference to help Painshill survive this devastating time.

The only requirement is that you must follow Government guidelines on exercise and social distancing. You can do your activity whenever is most convenient for you.

Here’s how to take part:

  1. Choose your 2.6 or 26 activity – if you need help there are lots of ideas below
  2. Head to Just Giving set up a fundraising page or to donate £26 – or whatever you can afford ­– to Painshill Park Trust
  3. Ask all your friends and family to sponsor you and challenge them to do their own 2.6 Challenge
  4. Complete your challenge
  5. Share a photo or video of your challenge on social media with #TwoPointSixChallenge and #Painshill

Painshill staff and Trustees will be undertaking their own challenges, so if you don’t have time to do your own, you could sponsor one of us.

For further information on The 2.6 Challenge, including a list of partners and supporters, and for more ideas about what your activity could be, visit Or contact us on

We hope you’ll join the nation in The 2.6 Challenge to support Painshill and help to save the UK’s charities.

Stay safe – and thank you again for your support,

Team Painshill

Get involved with the 2.6 challenge

Fundraising ideas

Make sure you stay within your limits and make sure what you do is within the Government guidelines for social distancing.


These are a mix of ideas for children and adults, or both.

You could ask your children or grandchildren to get involved

  • spot 26 birds or plants in the garden
  • tidy your bedroom for 26 minutes!
  • 26 star jumps
  • 26 cartwheels
  • scooter up and down your garden or drive 26 times
  • dance for 2 hours and 6 minutes
  • jump 26 times on the trampoline
  • read a book for 2 hours and 6 minutes


The challenge doesn’t need to be active, you can be creative in your fundraising too

  • bake 26 cakes and give to neighbours, in return for donations to your page
  • knit 26 egg cosies for our left over Easter eggs (get free patterns here)
  • share 10 of your photos of Painshill on social media or by email with friends and family, and invite them to donate £2.60 or £26
  • share 10 photos of your own garden or flowers and trees and landscapes you have seen on your walks, read 26 books and share reviews inviting donation

Get involved with the 2.6 challenge

Lost and Found: The Restoration of Painshill

We have been talking a lot about Painshill’s survival recently. The Coronavirus pandemic presents Painshill with a challenge like no other in its recent history. People might think us extreme to talk about Painshill potentially not surviving these difficult times.

But the sobering fact, never far from our thoughts, is that Painshill has been lost once before.

Unlike other great gardens, Painshill has never had an historic house and family to fight for it. Charles Hamilton, its creator, couldn’t afford to keep it or hand it down and he was forced to sell it in 1773. The garden went from owner to owner until, in 1939, during another very different national emergency, it was requisitioned by the military. The hardships of war led to decay and the collapse of some of the follies. After the war, in a state of neglect, the estate was promptly sold off in separate lots for agricultural and other purposes.

While the estate was scattered to various separate hands Charles Hamilton’s landscape began to disappear and the beautiful 18th century design was lost. The Waterwheel was left to ruin and stopped filling the lake, which became swamp-like and overrun with vegetation. The garden buildings crumbled and collapsed, and historic plantings were cleared for commercial forestry.

In the 1980s, with unique foresight for our heritage, Elmbridge Borough Council purchased 158 acres of the original 250-acre estate. Painshill Park Trust was established in 1982 with the sole mission of restoring the garden as closely as possible to the original concept.

Since then teams of historians, archaeologists, gardeners and volunteers have been piecing Painshill back together. Through archaeology and archive research they learned where buildings stood, what they looked like, what plants framed them, and what views and emotions a visitor should experience whilst they traverse the grounds.

The first buildings to be restored were the Gothic Temple and the Ruined Abbey. In the 1990s a two acre vineyard, which had been changed into a rockery during Victorian era, was replanted. Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund the Crystal Grotto was rebuilt in the 2010s, the roof having caved in and the crystal ceiling destroyed. Most recently, in 2019, the Temple of Bacchus exterior was completed.

The preservation of Painshill would not be possible without nearly two hundred volunteers giving thousands of hours of work for free, generous donations, heritage grants and the money that is made from admission, membership fees and Tea Room treats. The money that Painshill makes and raises goes back into the upkeep and running of the landscape.

In recent weeks, since appealing for help, we have been overwhelmed with kind words, comments, donations, new memberships and purchases of Painshill wine and gin. We cannot thank people enough for their generosity and support. Please keep spreading the word so we can protect Painshill for future generations. We believe that garden history shouldn’t just be read about in a book – living examples of historic designs should be available to learn from and enjoy. Thank you so much to you all for making this happen.

5 ways to help Painshill survive

Take a virtual tour of Painshill

While we are closed, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we will be endeavoring to bring you beautiful pictures and interesting content digitally. If you can’t come to Painshill, maybe Painshill can come to you!

In a series of video tours, Painshill volunteer guides will be taking you through the landscape and giving you some fascinating insights into the history of the gardens.

Video tour 1 – Fir Walk, the Amphitheatre and the Gothic Temple

In the first of our video tours we start at the beginning of Charles Hamilton’s work of art. Follow us on a stroll up the first hill to discover the views across the Serpentine Lake. Learn some of the ideas behind the English Landscape Movement, about the Painshill vineyard and discover the Gothic Temple. Painshill guide Graham Dash provides the commentary.

Video tour 2- The Ruined Abbey

Find out about the history of the Ruined Abbey, who Charles Hamilton built it and how the lake was formed with commentary from Garden Historian Cherrill Sands

Video tour 3 – The Crystal Grotto

“The finest of its type ever built”: that is how German landscape designer Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell (1750 – 1823) described the Grotto at Painshill. Take a look inside and learn more about it’s history and restoration. Painshill guide Graham Dash provides the commentary.

Video tour 4 – The Hermitage

Have you ever been to the Hermitage at Painshill? In this video tour Garden Historian Cherrill Sands takes you through the woods to discover it.

Video tour 5 – The Turkish Tent

Why a Turkish Tent? A question Painshill Guide Barry Hylton-Davies gets asked a lot. In this video tour he takes you through the history and design of Hamilton’s piece of the orient.

Follow us on social media, sign up to our mailing list or check back soon for more video tours!

Can you support Painshill while we are closed? Find out some of the ways you can help us survive the Coronavirus crisis.