Sculpture parks and gardens are places of inspiration, contemplation and reflection. Places to wander aimlessly along meandering paths, taking in stunning works of art that blend seamlessly with the natural landscape, or contrast boldly in startling colours, shapes and forms. We recommend 16 of the best sculpture gardens and parks to visit throughout the UK, from intimate collections in informal gardens to large-scale pieces across acres of parkland.
Don't miss our round up of the best gardens to see using public transport.
The best sculpture parks and gardens in the UK
This famous St Ives museum and garden gives a remarkable insight into one of Britain’s most important 20th century artists. On display are over 30 of Barbara Hepworth’s artworks, many of them laid in position by Hepworth herself in harmony with the planting scheme and garden design she created with the help of her friend, the composer Priaulx Rainier.
Barnoon Hill, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1AD. Tel 01736 796226, tate.org.uk
On the grounds of Broomhill's art hotel you’ll find an ancient woodland “where art and nature coexist”. On display are more than 150 pieces by emerging and established artists on display, including shortlisted artworks for the National Sculpture Prize, showcased in the river meadow area of the garden.
Muddiford, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4EX. Tel 01271 850 262, broomhill-estate.com
This year the majestic estate is home to Radical Horizons: The Art of Burning Man – an exhibition of 12 monumental sculptures from the unique festival that takes place every year in Black Rock Desert, Nevada. Hurry to see these remarkable large-scale artworks before the exhibition ends on 1 October.
Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1PP. Tel 01246 565300, chatsworth.org
Just outside Somerford Keynes, a small village in the heart of the Cotswolds, you’ll find this enchanting garden on a 10-acre site affectionately known as 'the Land’. Twenty-one years ago it was a wild thistle field; today it an ongoing project in biodiversity, with meandering paths through woodland, ponds and glades, interspersed with elemental themed sculpture.
The Paddocks, Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire GL7 6FE. Tel. 01285 862808, cotswoldsculpturepark.co.uk
A relaxed, ‘lived in’ garden with an intimate collection of sculpture by a range of artists, including the proprietor Hannah Bennett. All of the works are for sale. The village of Eyam is well worth exploring for its remarkable history – during the bubonic plague of 1665, the villagers bravely quarantined themselves to help prevent further spread of the disease.
The Barn, Off Church Street, Eyam, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S32 5RH. Tel 01433 631945, hannahbennett.co.uk
The work place and family home of Henry Moore, one of the leading British artists of the 20th century. Browse his iconic pieces spread over 70 acres of grounds, which includes a new visitor centre. There you can see the exhibition Henry Moore: The Sixties, which provides a fascinating insight into Moore's life and work during a pivotal decade in his career.
Dane Tree House Perry Green Much Hadham Hertfordshire SG10 6EE. Tel 01279 843333, henry-moore.org
A stunning sculpture park set over 100 acres of meadow and woodland. All of the sculptures in the permanent collection were were created in response to the landscape – the location chosen by the artist. You’ll find works by Jim Lambie, Nathan Coley, Cornelia Parker, Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn and Anthony Gormley.
Bonnington House Steadings, Near Wilkieston, Edinburgh EH27 8BY. Tel 01506 889900, jupiterartland.org
This year Leonardslee’s sculpture park features a solo exhibition by South African artist Anton Smit, entitled ‘The Walk of Life’. The exhibition “takes the visitor on a journey of self-discovery”, featuring Smit’s colossal heads, masks and humanesque forms that he created over a 50-year period.
Brighton Road, Lower Beeding, Horsham RH13 6PP. Tel 0871 8733 389, leonardsleegardens.co.uk
For 40 years Little Sparta was the home of Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay, who was also a poet, writer and self-proclaimed “avant-gardener”. The seven acres of moorland in the Pentland Hills is filled with his work, exploring themes from our relationship to nature to classical antiquity and the Second World War.
Stonypath, Dunsyre ML11 8NG. Tel 07826 495677, littlesparta.org.uk
Nestled in a woodland valley just outside the village of Ockley you’ll find a sculpture garden where the overriding theme is the powerful relationship between art and nature. The 200 sculptures vary from figurative to highly abstract, each piece carefully placed in harmony among the trees, architectural plants and ponds.
White Cottage, Standon Lane, Ockley, Dorking, Surrey RH5 5QU, Tel 01306 627 269, hannahpescharsculpture.com
Two miles of trail meanders through 10 aces of arboretum and water gardens, with over 600 ever-changing sculptures by well known and upcoming artists. Many of the pieces are for sale or hire, comprised of materials including bronze, marble, granite, glass, wood, copper, slate, steel and stone. You might even get to see a residential artist at work.
Corner of Jumps and Tilford Road, Churt, Farnham, Surrey GU10 2LH, thesculpturepark.com
These 26 acres of botanical gardens are a tranquil place to reflect and while away the long slow hours. Enjoy 30 permanent sculptures by acclaimed artist Simon Gudgeon, unpack a picnic by the water or treat yourself to a ‘field to plate’ lunch in the cafe. Because of deep and fast flowing water, the gardens have a 'no children under 14 (including babies) and no dogs' policy.
Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8QU, sculpturebythelakes.co.uk
A woodland and water garden on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park. Meander through National Collections of birch and alder and a wildflower meadow, and browse the sculpture exhibition within the arboretum. Afterwards enjoy a Devon cream tea in the tearoom with views out over the moors. Sculptures on display from 1 July to 31 October.
Stone Farm, Chagford, Devon TQ13 8JU. Tel 01647 231 311, stonelanegardens.com
In a beautiful, sheltered valley overlooking St Michael’s Mount you’ll find this exotic and subtropical garden filled with contemporary sculpture by renowned artists such as David Nash and James Turrell. Turrell's artwork Tewlwolow Kernow is a significant highlight – an elliptical domed ‘Skyspace’ chamber designed as a space from which to view the sky.
Gulval, Penzance, Cornwall TR20 8YL. Tel 01736 448089, tremenheere.co.uk
A three-acre south facing garden nestled in the picturesque lower Wye Valley. You’ll find a series formal lawns surrounded by herbaceous borders, a pond, a snowdrop wood, an orchard and meadow, and sensitively placed sculptures by resident artist Gemma Kate Wood. The sculptures are predominantly made from natural materials sourced from the surrounding landscape.
Tintern NP16 7NX, wyevalleysculpturegarden.co.uk
This glorious 500-acre estate celebrates the rich history of Yorkshire as the birthplace of pioneering sculptors, including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Damien Hirst. Expect to see Hepworth’s iconic The Family of Man and site-specific works by Andy Goldsworthy and David Nash.
West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG. Tel 01924 832631, yorkshire-sculpture.org
Abigail is a freelance writer and editor based in Hereford.
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