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.

Painshill 40th anniversary

A portrait of Painshill over the last 40 years

For the last 40 years, Painshill Park Trust has worked tirelessly to bring the lost gardens of Painshill back to their former 18th century glory – and we want to celebrate by using our Ruby Anniversary year to create a giant collage of visitor’s photographs.

Today, our spectacular 158-acre site is once again one of the most important and significant landscape gardens in the country.

With a history nearly as fascinating as the wonderful follies dotted through the landscape, our visionary park was designed in the 1700s by The Hon Charles Hamilton, who used a mix of architecture and horticulture to recreate the sights he saw on his two Grand Tours of Europe.

In the decades that followed, Painshill passed from owner to owner until it fell into ruin after World War Two.

Formed in 1981, Painshill Park Trust has spent the last 40 years tirelessly fundraising, painstakingly restoring each of the follies and recreating the breath-taking views for our 130,000 visitors a year.

There is still work to do and in our 40th year we will be planning and fundraising for important landscape projects.

As well as honour the anniversary we would like to celebrate all that Painshill means to the community. We will be creating a giant collage of pictures and we’re asking for you to send us your photographs of Painshill – whether they’re of the spectacular scenery, the fantastic follies, or you and your family enjoying the grounds.

We know how much you love Painshill, and collecting your memories to create a giant collage will not only celebrate the restoration but also all the good times people have enjoyed here over the last four decades.

Please get involved today and share your pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram #PainshillRuby or by emailing them to us at

Painshill on screen

Painshill on screen

Netflix’s Bridgerton aired in the UK on Christmas Day 2020 and the Duke and Duchess of Hastings have certainly caused quite a stir! Netflix have announced today that it has become their biggest ever drama series.

A romantic, scandalous and quick-witted series, Bridgerton follows Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family as she makes her debut onto Regency London’s competitive marriage market.

With spectacular scenery and decadent costumes, costumes Bridgerton is a feast for the eyes and is winning rave reviews from audiences all around the world.

We hope you spotted Painshill? It was used as a location for filming some of the scenes where the characters promenade and picnic.


We thought this would provide a lovely opportunity to tell you more about some of the programmes that have featured Painshill.

With its stunning 18th century follies and views free of modern buildings, Painshill has been chosen to represent gardens in various historical TV shows and feature films.

Notably among these are the 2009 Dorian Gray film, starring Ben Barnes and Colin Firth, and ITV’s Vanity Fair which aired in 2018.

Of all the filming in recent years, Painshill is featured most prominently in Netflix’s Black Mirror. The lake, the Five Arch Bridge, the Ruined Abbey and the Gothic Temple are all very recognisable.

What is also so interesting about Painshill is that it doesn’t need to be an 18th century landscape garden. There are many areas that film makers have used to create all sorts of locations. Painshill is often used to stand in for places such as Primrose Hill and Hyde Park, in London.

In the 2015 film Suffragette, Helena Bonham Carter, Carey Mulligan and Anne-Marie Duff are seen strolling along the banks of the Serpentine Lake.

Most recently, a distinctive crater in the Painshill woodland was used as Adam’s den for Amazon Prime’s Good Omens starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen.

Painshill locations have also looked fantastic in several music videos. The meadows and lake were used in Florence and the Machine’s Rabbit Heart and the Grotto features in Ellie Goulding’s Starry Eyed.

We look forward to sharing details of more recent filming with you once the footage has aired.

Weddings at Painshill

Outside wedding ceremonies are now available at Painshill

Elegant and natural outside ceremonies will be available in the Painshill landscape from summer 2021*.

Having had a marquee licensed and run by an external company in previous years, we are delighted to announce that weddings ceremonies will now be run by the Painshill Park Trust, allowing couples to get married outside in the landscape itself!  Proceeds will be used to maintain the upkeep of one of the best remaining examples of an 18th century landscape garden in Europe.

Glorious views, romantic follies and picturesque bridges combine to make our 18th century landscape garden in Surrey a magical place for couples to exchange their vows.

Featured on film and in TV dramas – including the Regency costume drama Bridgerton on Netflix – the 158-acre estate at Painshill makes a beautiful backdrop for romance, and the estate will be licensed to hold civil ceremonies or partnerships this summer.

Couples can exchange their vows in a ceremony for up to 75 guests* in the white Gothic Temple, high on a hill overlooking the serene Serpentine Lake.

Afterwards, the wedding party will have a marquee and exclusive use of the Amphitheatre lawn in front of the temple.

A golf buggy and chauffeur will also be on hand to drive around the estate for photographs in the park’s other magical locations, which include romantic Abbey ruins on the water’s edge, a sparkling Crystal Grotto, and picturesque bridges over the lake.

For further information please click here

*COVID-19 restrictions on ceremonies may still be in place. Painshill will follow all Government guidance and have measures in place to keep staff and visitors safe at all times.