This beautiful 120 acre woodland garden is set out on the edge of the Sussex Weald.
In 1775 the 1st Lord Sheffield, an intimate friend of Edward Gibbon, commissioned James Wyatt to design a neo-Gothic mansion to crown his new property and engaged 'Capability' Brown to landscape the grounds.
Brown's basic design of trees, sweeping lawns and two serpentine lakes was enhanced in the 20th century by the inspired planting of Arthur G. Soames.
He acquired the estate on the death of the 3rd Earl of Sheffield in 1909 and devoted the next 25 years to introducing a huge variety of exotic trees and shrubs, transforming and extending the 18th century landscape park.
In 1954 the magnificent woodland garden was acquired by the National Trust.
Soames extended the two original lakes to form a chain of five in the form of a T, with picturesque waterfalls joining one level to the next. From the top bridge above the first cascade Wyatt's pinnacled and battlemented Gothic house (not owned by the National Trust) can be seen reflected in the waters of the first lake.
Over the cascade's impressive 25 foot drop is a view of the second lake, where grassy islands planted with flourishing palms give the waters a tropical feel. In early summer rafts of water lilies bear white flowers above the cascade and red and pink flowers on the waters of the second lake below.
Around the shores of the lakes is a superb range of trees and shrubs whose inspired planting have made Sheffield Park one of the finest woodland gardens in Britain.
The gardens are considered to be at their best on sunny days in the second half of October when the blue waters of the lakes set off the magnificent autumn colours.
The tupelo trees, azaleas, maples, swamp cypresses, eucryphias and birches contribute to a stunning spectacle which is unrivalled in the British Isles.
In the spring the greensward is covered with wild daffodils, narcissus and bluebells. Two months later the garden is ablaze with a multitude of flowering shrubs. The Ghent azaleas and banks of white, blue, purple and wine-red rhododendrons are outstanding.
In the summer the long grass fringing the Queen's Walk around one of the lower lakes, is dotted with spotted orchids and is now a conservation area for wild flowers.
In the last 10 years a shady stream garden has been created by the National Trust which includes hostas, lilies, primulas and other water-loving plants.
The great storm of 1987 felled many trees at Sheffield Park but many mature specimens survived including ancient chestnuts and oaks, already full grown in the 17th century. There are also fine conifers planted at the end of the 19th century by the 3rd Lord Sheffield.