Just over an hour outside London, The Sculpture Park could not feel further away from London’s concrete jungle. Hailed as Britain’s most atmospheric sculpture park, stepping into this beautiful garden I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole into wonderland.
The park is owned and curated by Eddie Powell, a UK leading art expert. He himself is a sculptor who works under the pseudonym Wilfred Pritchard. The skeletons seen littered around the park in unusual situations are the work of the curator himself. In 2017, the Sculpture park was listed in The Week’s as one of the 14 best sculpture parks in the UK.
Walking into the park you are greeted by the resident doves, inhabiting an oversized bird house above the lake. You are also given a glimpse of the magic that is to follow as the walkway to reception is already lined with sculptures. After purchasing our £10 entry tickets, we were given a guide book containing details of the sculptures and a map. Every sculpture in the park is for sale. Prices vary wildly, ranging from a few hundred pounds to the price of a three bedroom house!
We didn’t follow the coloured paths shown on the map, choosing instead to get lost of our own volition. We paid attention to the areas on the map that we had seen, so we still ended up seeing a majority of the park. However, if you have less time and prefer a more organised approach, there are numerous paths that will effortlessly guide you around the park. Nature has been allowed free to reign to grow around the sculptures so even if you find yourself walking the same path twice, you will likely notice different pieces.
The collection of eclectic sculptures, accompanied by the magnificent 10 acre arboretum make this park a truly magical place to visit. With over 800 20th century, modern and contemporary sculpture’s on display, the pieces range from traditional to provocative. As the collection is ever changing, there will always be something new to see. I won’t be surprised if I find myself returning in the not too distant future.
Advice for your visit:
Wear decent shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty! The park has a diverse terrain made up of heathland, woodland and water gardens, so be prepared to cross slippery steel bridges and climb muddy hills. We went on a wet day, which didn’t ruin the experience but did make for potentially treacherous walking!
What not to miss:
The record breaking horseshoe dragon! Made of 50,000 horseshoes, this giant masterpiece created by artist, Jim Poolman joined the park in 2018. I believe it is now the most expensive piece in the park, and arguably one of the most striking!
Things to do nearby:
1. Breakfast, coffee or cake at the Orchard Barn Cafe. Hidden in an oak barn on Cherry Orchard Farm, this mother/daughter run cafe is the perfect place to fuel up before exploring the sculpture park. The breakfast was extremely fresh and well priced, i’d go as far as to say it was the best full english i’ve ever had! (Open Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm)
2. Explore the Devils Punch Bowl. Legend has it has this deep depression in the ground was caused when the devil scooped up handfuls of the earth and threw it at Thor, God of Thunder. Home to beautiful walks and a lovely national trust cafe.
3. Find factory bargains at Grayshott Pottery. You can find gorgeous pieces at bargain prices at the factory. You can also stop for a cake and watch some of the artists at work in their on site cafe.