Tuesday, 8 April 2014

art, gardens and houses in sussex

We sped out of London early last Saturday morning; we were headed for Sussex and we'd arrived in Lewes by midday. After picking our friends up from the train station, we made our way over to the Ram Inn for lunch (we stayed here back in November, when we were in town for the infamous Lewes Bonfire). We'd come to Sussex first and foremost to visit Charleston, the country home of the Bloomsbury group. I've been banging on about Charleston for the past six months so it was delightful to finally be able to see it for myself, and on such a delicious spring day too... Photographs were banned inside the house but I managed to sneak just one of my favourite room - the light, bright studio shared by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.

Perhaps the best ever reason to close your folly garden?

I couldn't resist.

D. and I stayed at Pelham Hall on Saturday night - an absolutely charming bed & breakfast owned by ex-Londoners Chris and Matthew. The boys opened the doors to the Tudor house last October after a year and a half of hard work and renovations. I'd highly recommend the place; we stayed in the garden room (Phoenix). Importantly, they'll whip you up an excellent breakfast too.

Pelham Hall is the oldest house on the High Street in the village of Burwash, perched on a ridge overlooking the rolling hills of the Sussex weald, nestled between the North and South Downs.

On Sunday we visited Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's 17th-century Jacobean house - all sandstone, mullioned windows and oak beams. The rooms, described by Kipling as 'untouched and unfaked', remain much as he left them, with oriental rugs and artefacts reflecting his association with the East. The wooded landscape in which the house sits is utterly perfect, so much so we really didn't want to leave.

After lunch we took off to Sissinghurst Castle - another place I'd been wanting to visit for some time. Sissinghurst's garden was created in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West, poet and gardening writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. This is the panoramic view one is rewarded with after climbing to the top of the Elizabethan tower.

The gardens seemed to be on the verge of bursting into full bloom.

'Historic, poetic, iconic; a refuge dedicated to beauty.'

Incredible colour. A great weekend. Totally inspiring.

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