Sensory Trust access and visitor review:
Sissinghurst Gardens, Kent

Sissinghurst is one of the most treasured gardens in the UK, created by Vita Sackville-West in the 1930s and famous for its series of intimate garden rooms. It is a place where changes need to be very carefully balanced with heritage.

The Sensory Trust was commissioned by the National Trust to help with their plans to extend the visitor experience at Sissinghurst Gardens, looking beyond the formal gardens to enjoyment of the wider estate. Following a site visit, meetings with key staff and an access review, we created an Engagement Framework to highlight ways of diversifying the visitor experience and increasing opportunities for visitors to participate more actively. We based our approach on the Access Chain, an approach which we have developed in order to define the visitor experience from the visitor’s perspective.

Jane Stoneham discussing the visitor arrival experience with the National Trust team at Sissinghurst

Our recommendations covered pre-visit information, the arrival experience, the farm shop, the café, wayfinding, interpretation, planting schemes, physical infrastructure, and on-site activities.  All recommendations were made with a view to broadening the diversity of visitors and extending the visitor season.

Recommendations have subsequently fed into the development of the farm as an integral part of the Sissinghurst visit.

Interested in an access audit?

Sensory Trust undertakes access audits for heritage and contemporary venues. Read more about our access audit consultancy >>

Links

Access Chain - a tool for reviewing access from the user's perspective

Outdoor access design factsheets - free guidance

Access statements - samples for you to use

What is inclusive design? How an inclusive approach makes places better for everyone.

Accessible information design - why it matters and who it benefits