Santa will not be coming to Painshill Christmas 2021

Santa will not be returning to Painshill for Christmas 2021.

We understand the very special place that Santa in the Grotto holds in people’s hearts and, for that reason, we have worked hard to try to make the event viable. We are sorry we cannot do this for Christmas 2021.

In Christmas 2019 the Grotto and the landscape flooded. Painshill Park Trust was forced to cancel Santa and refund thousands of pounds of tickets. The following year we were forced to cancel Tea with Santa when COVID-19 restrictions were enforced.

With COVID-19 and the risk of winter flooding this event would pose too much of a risk for our small charity.

We look forward to welcoming families to our winter trail in the landscape. After our popular and well received Snowfari in 2020, this year will take you to a landscape full of dinosaurs – Snowsaurus! Walk the trail and discover incredible statues including a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex!

We hope you will still make Painshill a day out this season and we very much look forward to welcoming you and your family for a winter walk.

SNOWSAURUS Christmas 2021
Leave a legacy

5 Reasons to Leave a Gift to Charity

This week (6 – 12 September) is Remember A Charity Week, when charities across the country come together to celebrate the generosity of those who leave a charity gift in their will.

Remember A Charity works with 200 charities across the country to highlight the profound impact people can make on the world they leave behind.

As a small independent charity Painshill relies on donations to survive and ensure the landscape can be enjoyed for generations to come. We believe passionately in keeping this green space green! The restoration work, which started 40 years ago, continues and we are dedicated to seeing Charles Hamilton’s garden design realised once again.

Those who leave a gift in their will ensure this work can continue and we are hugely grateful to everyone who supports us in this way.

Here are 5 reasons to leave a gift to Painshill Park Trust in your will:
1. To Feel Happy

People who leave a gift in their will to a cause or place they love report a huge amount of satisfaction. It can be comforting and wonderful to know that this special place will be passed on to future generations.

2. To Help the Work Live On

Many charities across the country rely on public support. Painshill is no exception. We get over 90% of our income from visitors. Leaving a gift in your will to Painshill helps to continue the work you valued in your life.

3. Reduce Inheritance Tax

A gift to charity is free from inheritance tax and if you leave more than 10% of your estate to charity then the rate of inheritance tax your estate pays reduces from 40% to 36%.

4. To Remember A Loved One

Many people choose to leave a gift to a charity that was important to a loved one, to keep their values alive. Maybe a friend or family member gained a lot from visiting Painshill or family members have enjoyed spending time here on educational activities.

5. We Are All Richer When Charities Thrive

We know people value Painshill for many reasons including its heritage, its green space for nature, the opportunity to volunteer, a place for children to learn and have fun, or for helping with wellbeing during a difficult time. Whatever your reason, charities like Painshill Park Trust play a fundamental role in society. Supporting them creates a better world for all.

Ruth Langsford Memory Walk

Ruth Langsford to join Surrey Memory Walk in memory of late father

Guest Blog written by Alzheimer’s Society

People across Surrey are being called on to unite against dementia by signing up for Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk at Painshill Park, Cobham, on 26 September.

TV Presenter and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Ruth Langsford who lost her dad, Dennis, to dementia, will be joining the walk at the stunning 18th Century landscape garden and is encouraging others to do the same.

Langsford, presenter of ITV’s This Morning and Loose Women, will join hundreds of fundraisers donning their walking shoes to raise vital funds for people affected by dementia, many of whom are in desperate need of support in the wake of the pandemic.

The broadcaster, whose father passed away in 2012, said: “This is a cause close to my heart because I lost my dad to Alzheimer’s and I know how devastating the condition is for those diagnosed and their families.

“I’m walking in loving memory of my dad, who I miss every day. I am lucky enough to have participated in several Memory Walks, and they are always a wonderful way to celebrate and remember a loved one who has been impacted by dementia.

“After a difficult year for everyone, but particularly for those living with dementia, there’s never been a better time to lace up your boots, and I’d encourage anyone who can to come along by signing up today.

“Money raised will help Alzheimer’s Society reach and support more people through the charity’s vital services, like the Dementia Connect support line, which have been a lifeline for thousands of people.”

Hundreds of people have already joined the presenter by signing up for the walk at Painshill Park, Cobham, on 26 September. People can also organise their own Memory Walk at a time and location of their choice with a group of close friends and family. However people choose to take part, money raised will help Alzheimer’s Society continue to support the 17,000 people living with dementia in Surrey through its vital services (like the Dementia Connect support line) which have been used over 5 and a half million times throughout the UK since March 2020.

People affected by dementia, worst hit by coronavirus, face a difficult road to recovery as a result of thousands having symptoms increase and mental health deteriorating due to a lack of social contact, routine and interruptions to essential care and support. Alzheimer’s Society’s crucial work has never been more needed.

Sue Beechy, Alzheimer’s Society’s Area Manager, said: “We’re calling on people with dementia, family, friends and teams from across Surrey to unite against dementia this Autumn.

“We’re very grateful for Ruth Langsford’s continued support of our Surrey Memory Walk and would encourage everyone to get involved in what is always a fun and moving day.

“Not only has the pandemic left a gaping hole in the hearts of grieving families across Surrey, but many are also struggling to cope watching their surviving loved one become a shell of the person they once were. Whether you decide to take part on the day at Painshill Park, or to walk with a small group of friends and family in your local area, all that matters is that we unite against dementia and continue to support people who need it most.”

Visit to find out more about taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Surrey Memory Walk on 26 September.

Find out more at Alzheimner’s Society

Cocktails with Coppa Club

Cocktails with Coppa Club, Cobham

Painshill is delighted to have teamed up with Coppa Club in Cobham to bring you a fabulous cocktail this August. It’s called Folly Fizz!

Head down to the friendly Cobham bar and restaurant to try Painshill Kitchen Garden Gin in a cocktail created by the Coppa Club team.

Painshill Kitchen Garden Gin is a refreshing blend of lemon balm, lovage and shredded rhubarb. It is distilled in partnership with The Gin Kitchen, Dorking with ingredients grown at Painshill by our landscape team. Bottles are available to buy in the Painshill Gift Shop but this is the first time it has been on sale in a local bar in our Cobham community.

The Coppa Club, which opened a branch in Cobham this year, is a relaxed, welcoming venue serving thoughtful and unfussy food.

Famous for their roof top igloos, you can sit back and enjoy delicious food in a comfortable setting.

For every Painshill Kitchen Garden Gin cocktail sold by Coppa Club in Cobham, £1 will be donated to Painshill Park Trust to support the continued restoration and maintenance of Painshill.

This means that when you treat yourself to Folly Fizz cocktail at Coppa you are helping to protect the landscape.

Sir Stephen

Painshill Park Trust appoints a new Chairman

The Trustees and Director of Painshill Park Trust are delighted to announce that Sir Stephen Lamport GCVO DL has been appointed as the Trust’s new Chairman.

Sir Stephen has been a Trustee of Painshill Park Trust since 2019 and has had a home near Cobham for nearly four decades.  Previously a member of HM Diplomatic Service, serving in New York, Tehran and Rome, he then moved to the Royal Household for ten years, where he was Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales.  He was subsequently a Director of The Royal Bank of Scotland for five years, and latterly spent ten years as the Receiver General of Westminster Abbey, from where he retired in 2018.

Sir Stephen sits on a number of charitable and commercial boards.  He is Chairman of the British Red Cross Solidarity Fund and a Senior Adviser to Sanctuary Counsel.  He was appointed GCVO in 2018 and became the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey in 2020.

Sir Stephen said, “I am delighted to take up the role of Chairman for Painshill Park Trust. The Painshill landscape is an extremely important piece of England’s heritage and I look forward to working with the Trustees and staff to ensure we can continue to restore and protect it for current and future generations.”

Director of Painshill, Paul Griffiths said, “It is an honour to have Sir Stephen as our Chairman. He brings a wealth of expertise and experience to Painshill. Under his leadership, awareness of Painshill’s significance can only grow and together we can ensure Painshill will thrive into the future.”

Sir Stephen, the Trustees and the staff would like to thank former Chairman Richard Reay-Smith throughout his many years of service, passion and commitment to Painshill. Richard was a member of Elmbridge Council and was Chairman of the committee responsible for acquiring the major part of Painshill and establishing Painshill Park Trust forty years ago. He was the Trust’s first Chairman from 1981 to 1985 and resumed the Chairmanship in 2018. Richard will continue to be a Trustee of Painshill Park Trust.

Family photoshoot

10 Things to do at Painshill over the Summer Holidays

Sunlit Grotto

1. Write a story about the Crystal Grotto

After being closed for much of 2020 we are delighted that the Crystal Grotto is open for visitors this summer (closed on Mondays for maintenance). Bring along your camera and take some fabulous family photos in this sparkling crystal cave.

We are celebrating 250th years since it was first created by Charles Hamilton. Write a 250 word story, inspired by the Grotto, and you could win a free family membership!

2. Bring along a picnic

Summer is the time to spend a whole day at Painshill. After walking the grounds and discovering the follies, spread out your blanket by the lake or on top of a hill.

While the children run free in acres of meadow you can enjoy the location that was used in smash hit Netflix show Bridgerton for the characters’ picnic.

Butterfly at Painshill

3. Spot butterflies

The Painshill meadows and woodlands are full of butterflies at this time of year. Take a walk and see which species you can spot.

If you would like to record your findings why not get involved with the National Big Butterfly Count and see what else has been sighted in the area.

4. Enjoy Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is back at Painshill and children are welcome to join. Children’s prices are available because everyone loves cake and scones!

The price of the tea includes entry into the grounds so you can also enjoy the landscape before or after you indulge in some yummy treats.

Painshill Afternoon Tea
forest school

5. Pick up a summer holiday activity card

This summer holiday free activity cards can be found at the Visitor Centre.

Each card has a different Forest School activity on it. Whether you create a piece of wild art or make a fairy home these activities are a brilliant way for children to engage with nature.

6. Paint Your Own Pottery

On 17 August join All Fired Up for a paint your own pottery session.

Children’s figures are available to paint including a knight, a princess or a dragon. Get the creative juices flowing with this hands-on family workshop.

Play Area

7. Visit the Natural Play Area

The Painshill natural play area is a great spot to include in your visit. Natural balance logs, dens and stepping stones allow little ones to get back to nature.

8. Treat yourself to ice-cream

Luxury, creamy and utterly delish ice-cream (believe us – we have tried it!) is available from the catering hut or in the Tea Room.

On a hot summer day why not try some of the fabulous flavours.

Jazz on the Amphitheatre

9. Listen to some Jazz

Every Sunday afternoon in August there will be Jazz music on the Amphitheatre. Perfect for all generations of the family, everyone can enjoy the view over the vineyard, listen to the music and take some time together.

Plus there will be a bar for the adults in the party!

10, Watch The Greatest Showman on the big screen

Children’s tickets are available for the PG screening of The Greatest Showman on Sunday 22 August. Watch the sun go down over the landscape, enjoy dinner from our food and drink stalls and then sit back and delight in the feel good film.

Open Air Cinema Painshill
40th anniversary gin

Painshill 40th anniversary gin in stock now

It is here!

Painshill Park Trust is proud to bring you a limited edition 40th Anniversary Ruby Gin. It is in stock now in the Painshill Gift Shop and all profits go to the restoration and protection of Painshill.

Enjoy the mix of raspberry, orris root, angelica root, coriander, cubeb pepper, lemon zest, cassia bark and Kossovan juniper dancing on the palate. The skills and talents of The Gin Kitchen in Dorking have developed this gin to celebrate 40 years of the Painshill Park Trust. It is as colourful as it is flavourful to celebrate the ruby anniversary.

Pair with a crisp tonic, plenty of ice and garish with a mint leaf and twist of lime zest.

This rosy gin is the third in the Painshill collection.

The Kitchen Garden Gin and the Turkish Tent Gin, created with ingredients grown at Painshill, are also available in the Gift Shop today.  

Share the experience with us at #PainshillRuby #PainshillGin

Short story competition judges

Win a year’s free membership with our short story competition

Painshill is celebrating the Crystal Grotto’s 250th anniversary with short story competition.

Brilliant, magical, haunting and enchanting – the Crystal Grotto at Painshill Park in Surrey has been dazzling visitors for 250 years.

To celebrate the grotto’s 250th birthday, Painshill is inviting budding writers to pen a 250-word story inspired by the unearthly beauty of this incredible manmade feature. The winners will receive free year’s membership to Painshill. Enjoy seeing Painshill change throughout the seasons with this fantastic prize.

Entranced by the grottoes in Italian Renaissance gardens, Painshill’s creator the Hon Charles Hamilton commissioned celebrated grotto designer Joseph Lane to construct the folly in the 1700s. The dazzling stalactites were created using thousands of crystals embedded into lime mortar on inverted wooden cones.

By the 20th century, the grotto had fallen into ruin, but restoration by the Painshill Park Trust has seen it returned to its original glory.

Today, the spectacular 158-acre site with its fantastical follies and crystal grotto is once again one of the most important and significant 18th century landscape gardens in the country.

Painshill director Paul Griffiths said: “The crystal grotto is 250 years old this year, and our 250-word story competition is designed to celebrate its enduring appeal.

“Whether the sparkling stalactites, bubbling rocks, shimmering coral pools and twisted rock formations inspire tales of romance, horror, fantasy or mystery, we would love aspiring writers of all ages to pick up their pens and let their imagination take over.

“We can’t wait to see the results!”

The 250-word short story competition is divided into three categories: 12 and under, 13-17, and 18 and over.

The competition is free to enter. Entrants should live in the UK and can enter through school, or as an individual.

Stories will be judged by Paul and children’s author Lorraine Piddington, with prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category.

Deadline for entries is August 31st.

Painshill open air events

Painshill brings welcome laughter to Cobham

Guest Blog written by Grosvenor Billinghurst

What an evening! We packed our picnic blankets and cool boxes of goodies and headed off to the Walled Garden in Painshill for an evening of live comedy. The first occasion of this kind that we’d been to for a long time (thank you Covid) there was a definite air of excitement for the evening ahead. And we were NOT disappointed!

Even as we first entered the grounds we were surrounded by friendly volunteers with big smiles, welcoming us to the event.  There was a buzz around the other comedy enthusiasts (a very diverse bunch), whether sitting in their dusted off camping chairs or lounging on their picnic rugs – everyone enjoying being “out out” for the evening, whilst still feeling very safe at the social distancing in place.  The sun was shining on the grass as it started dropping behind the walls of the garden and it felt for a moment like life was back to “normal” and there was a respite from the worries of the pandemic. For those wanting lubrication of an alcoholic sort the Corks bar had an array of drinks to suit any taste, which of course we made full use of!

The MC and the comedians were very funny – dealing with their change in performance scene brilliantly…from darkened comedy club or large theatre setting, to streaming comedy from their “home office” and now to an outdoor stage in front of the picnicking residents of Cobham (a village which many of them had never heard of – how could they not?!?). Each one brought their own style of comedy, which gave us all a lot of laughs – something that we all relished after the events of the last year. Two hours of comedy (with breaks for a couple of trips to the bar) flew by and we headed home with a spring in our step, reciting our favourite jokes from the show.

As sponsors of the events in the Walled Garden this summer we are not only very proud to be involved with Painshill and these fantastic events, but we’re very grateful for their presence – to lift our spirits, to bring us together with our local community – and we can’t wait to go to more of the events in the future.  See you there?  You know you want to!

Painshill summer events are sponsored by

Find out more about Painshill events

Volunteers interview blog

Volunteer Interview Blog 2021

1- 6 Jun 2021 marks National Volunteers Week! Now that COVID-19 restrictions allow it is a brilliant time to re-start our Volunteer Interview Blog.

Painshill couldn’t run without volunteers. We have over 200 and they keep the landscape looking lovely, greet people on the ticket desk and work in the gift shop. They run guided tours, make repairs to the landscape features, host talks, take photographs and much more. Many have been with us for years and the staff are always hugely inspired by their dedication and passion. Thank you to them all for everything they do.

Would you like to get involved at Painshill? We welcome all ages and interests. Whether you want to stay active, improve your mental health, gain work experience or meet new people – we can find a role that works for you.

David Willcocks

What is your role at Painshill? 

I do a multitude of roles! I regularly do Landscaping on Monday’s with Andy and his team, but I also do buggy tours, walking tours, volunteer coordinating, what else…! Oh, Grotto stewarding. That’s it.

Just a small list then! How long have you been a volunteer?

Since 6th December 2017 – so 3 and ½ years now!

What role do you enjoy most?

Well I come from a farming background and when I was a student I used to work on a Forest Commission and on the farm, driving tractors and combines and those sort of things, so I was naturally attracted to Landscaping.

You get to work with a great bunch of people. A really nice team.

I am also interested in Wildlife generally so it gets me out to enjoy it. I also enjoy the Grotto Stewarding as people generally appreciate some information they wouldn’t normally get. Some people want to wiz through and get a selfie and others are really interested in the history. You get to speak with a variety of people – I‘m not exactly backward in coming forward to chat so the interaction with visitors is what I like.

What makes you come back to volunteer in the Landscape every week?

My wife would say it’s to get out of the house! I like being outside, I’m a very active person, I still play squash, so doing something physical is very important to me. I come back because A) I do get on really well with the team and the landscape guys and girls and we have a lunchtime all together outside – fresh air, the birds, all that good stuff! B) Its different from my previous working life – after 40 years working in London it’s a total contrast. It’s nice to be my own boss and have volunteer hours!

Do you have a favourite or most memorable task during your time at Painshill?

I did a buggy tour for an American gentleman who had been stationed here prior to D-Day during the war. He was on a big trip around Europe to revisit all the sites and he chose to come down to Painshill. He was quite elderly so I took him up to the Gothic Tower on the buggy and when we got back he gave me a $20 tip!

Wow what a result!

Yes that buggy tour stood out. Definitely memorable.

Why did you choose Painshill? 

Well I used to come here with the kids when they were little, and when I started working part time I started bringing them back and got to know the park. I wanted to drift into retirement slowly and wanted the chance to be unstructured. What appealed about Painshill is the flexibility. You don’t have to do the same shift on the same day each week.

I have also got to know a lot of people here and it becomes a big family in a funny sort of way. I hope I can keep going for many more years!

What would you say to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer?

Do it! Like many people I have other commitments and grandchildren etc. and you can’t always predict what you can do. This gives me the opportunity to come as much as I can, and at the same time not miss out on other parts of my life. That’s why I chose Painshill.

You come to know the park, get to know the people, you even get to know the swans and ducks like ‘Doris’!

What is your favourite spot at Painshill? 

Oooh gosh that’s difficult. The view from the Amphitheatre over the lake and the downs – absolutely gorgeous. My favourite tree is the Cork Tree. Not many people see it. It’s in the Amphitheatre near the statue.