Hyde House
Hyde House
Hyde House

Visiting
East Sussex

“God gives all men all earth to love, but since man’s heart is small, ordains for each one spot shall prove beloved over all” Rudyard Kipling ‘Sussex’.

Rudyard Kipling eulogised Sussex in his poem of the same name and the county still has much to offer visitors with its castles and stately homes, breathtaking views, ancient woodlands and historic towns. Walkers, riders and cyclists are spoilt for choice with hundreds of miles of sign-posted trails around the South Downs, the Weald and the coast.

Historians tell us that East Sussex is part of the ancient kingdom of the South Saxons who established themselves here in the 5th century AD, following the departure of the Romans, although the area had been populated for many thousands of years before then. Norman invaders also took advantage of our costal position and the county’s past is preserved in the many castles, museums and heritage centres.

things to do...

Hyde House is at the heart of the Sussex countryside where you can kick back and relax or walk miles without seeing another soul.

Those in search of culture will enjoy taking a tour of Charleston (home of the English painter, Vanessa Bell and her unconventional family and the country retreat of the artists, writers and intellectuals who became known as the ‘Bloomsbury Group’) followed by a visit to Berwick Church, where the work of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant can be seen in the beautifully painted biblical scenes which adorn the interior walls.

Glyndebourne is only 10 minutes’ drive away with its Festival Opera and there are numerous theatre venues and cinema complexes within easy reach.

Aspiring historians could spend an entire fortnight just visiting the castles and sites of historical interest. This is 1066 country (where King Harold was fatally wounded) and home to Battle Abbey (built by the victorious William) and each of the centuries that followed are equally represented by Lewes Castle... Michelham Priory... Hever Castle... Anne of Cleves House... Glynde Place... Firle Place and Newhaven Fort.

Featuring the work of the Arts & Crafts designer,William Morris, are the stained glass windows of St. Deny’s Church at Rotherfield.

Within an hour’s drive are the gardens of Sissinghurst Castle (the creation of Vita Sackville West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson). Combine your excursion with a visit to Scotney Castle (14th century ruins in romantic lakeside setting) and the quintessentially English Pashley Manor Gardens, within which the work of many eminent sculptors and local artists is displayed.

Many of the above play host to craft fares, exhibitions and other seasonal events including spooky fun and fireworks at Groombridge Place Gardens (location for filming of Pride & Prejudice) and jousting tournaments at Hever Castle.

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National Trust...

Armed with nothing more than your National Trust Membership Card, you have free entry to a plethora of properties and gardens within easy reach including Alfriston Clergy House (the medieval thatched cottage which was the first of the NT’s purchases), Batemans (home of Rudyard Kipling) Bodiam Castle (perfect example of a late medieval moated castle) the outstanding gardens of Nymans with is collection of rare plants, Monk’s House (the country retreat of the novelist VirginiaWoolf) Smallhythe Place (Ellen Terry’s early 18th century house and cottage gardens) Lamb House with its literary associations, Standen (a showpiece of the Arts & Crafts movement) and the internationally renowned Sheffield Park Garden.

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active pastimes...

Alternatively, you need venture only a few miles from Hyde House to enjoy more active pastimes such as mountain biking along the Wessex Way, horse riding or a round of golf. The East Sussex National Golf Club (or ‘The National’ as it’s known), offers championship courses designed by one of Jack Nicklaus’s course architects and has played host to some of the world’s leading players. Also nearby is the Wellshurst Golf & Country Club which has an 18-hole 5771 yard par 70 course and a 16-bay floodlit driving range as well as a fully stocked pro shop with major brands.

local attractions...

The following are highly recommended and the distance from Hyde House is shown in each case.

Charleston...

An 18th century farmhouse set close to the foot of the South Downs. From 1916, it was the home of the English painter, Vanessa Bell and her unconventional family. Conditions at the house were primitive and, influenced by Italian fresco painting and post-Impressionist art, they set about decorating the walls with murals and filled the house with their paintings, painted furniture and ceramics. It was the country retreat of the artists, writers and intellectuals who became known as the ‘Bloomsbury Group’ - Roger Fry, Dora Carrington, VirginiaWoolf, Lytton Strachey, David Garnett, Vita Sackville West, E.M. Forster, J. Maynard Keynes and Clive Bell (1.8 miles).

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Berwick Church...

Bishop Bell of Chichester commissioned the Bloomsbury artists - Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell - to create the stunning murals which adorn the interior of this beautiful 12th century church (1.8 miles)

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Firle Place...

Home of the Gage family for over 500 years, the house has Tudor origins and was remodelled in the 18th century. It now houses important European and English Old Master paintings as well as fine English and French furniture and porcelain (3.1 miles).

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Clergy House...

A fine example of a thatched medieval hall house and the first property purchased by the National Trust. The house is set within a pretty cottage garden in the attractive village of Alfriston (3.5 miles).

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Long Man of Wilmington...

The famous 70 metre (230ft) chalk figure towers above the village of Wilmington on the side of Windover Hill. The purpose of this male figure bearing two long staves remains unknown with theories that he may be a fertility symbol, an ancient warrior or just an 18th century folly (3.6 miles).

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Michelham Priory...

Founded in 1229 by Augustinian canons,Michelham Priory is set on a moated island surrounded by 7 acres of glorious gardens featuring an Elizabethan Great Barn, rope museum and working forge. Artefacts and furniture on display trace the property’s religious origins, through its life as a working farm and country house. The medieval watermill has been fully restored (4.5 miles).

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Glyndebourne...

Glyndebourne Festival Opera was founded by John and Audrey Christie in the grounds of their elegant country house in Sussex in 1934 and, since that time, Glyndebourne has brought the best of opera to this wonderful setting. Between May and August up to half a dozen different operas are performed, featuring the works of the world’s famous composers (5.6 miles).

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Lewes Castle...

William deWarenne – 1st Earl of Surrey – was one of the Norman nobles who fought at the Battle of Hastings. He later became one of the wealthiest landowners in England with holdings in 12 counties worth an equivalent of £74 billion in today’s money. Built high above the medieval streets of Lewes, this was William’s Sussex stronghold and was added to over the subsequent 300 years (7.5 miles).

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Anne of Cleves House...

This beautiful timber-framed 15th century Wealden Hall House was part of Henry VIII’s divorce settlement to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, when their marriage ended in 1541. The house features collections of artefacts and pottery from the area as well as an ironwork gallery illustrating this important historic Sussex industry (7.8 miles)

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Bentley Wildfowl...

A Palladian-style mansion set in formal gardens with art gallery, veteran and vintage motor museum and a collection of over 125 species of wildfowl as well as a seasonal miniature steam railway (10.2 miles).

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Newhaven Fort...

Massive walls, ramparts and gun emplacements afford wonderful views across the channel coastline and the vast echoing tunnels, built into the cliffs, house exhibits and audio-visual presentations which bring World Wars I and II back to life (10.7 miles).

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Pevensey Castle...

With origins dating back to before 300AD, Pevensey Castle was occupied by the Romans and the Anglo Saxons and it is where William the Conqueror established his first stronghold after landing in Sussex in 1066 (11 miles).

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The Royal Pavilion...

An exotically beautiful building in Brighton, built in an elaborate Indian style for George Prince of Wales, which later became the magnificent seaside residence of King George IV. Lavish carved and gilded interiors combine Chinese style decorations, Asian exoticismand English eccentricity (14.5miles).

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1066 country...

Re-live the bloody Battle of Hastings - in which Saxon King Harold was fatally wounded - through an interactive exhibition and mock ‘interviews’ with monks and soldiers of the time. Explore the atmospheric ruins of Battle Abbey, built by William The Conqueror as a symbol of Norman victory and learn about monastic life (18 miles).

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Batemans...

Built for a local ironmaster in 1634, this Jacobean sandstone house has wonderful oak-panelled interiors and staircase. From 1902 to his death in 1936, it was the home of the writer Rudyard Kipling. Kipling’s book-lined study is much as he left it and, through the many oriental rugs and decorative items, the house reflects his strong associations with the East. The 33-acre grounds run down to the River Dudwell, alongside which sits the restored watermill. Kipling’s 1928 Phantom 1 Rolls Royce is on display (18.8 miles).

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Bluebell Railway...

Britain’s only all steam-dedicated railway which runs through the tranquil Sussex countryside from Sheffield Park in the south to Kingscote in the north. The journey takes around 35 minutes and returns after a 20-minute break. If pre- booked, you can also enjoy lunch on one of the beautifully restored dining coaches, dating back to the 1920s (26 miles).

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Bodium Castle...

In 1385, with the Hundred Years War still raging, the ambitious and wealthy knight, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge was given a royal licence to crenellate his house to protect the inland reaches of the Rother and halt the French advances. Instead, Dalyngrigge took advantage of the licence to build himself this stately home which epitomises everyone’s idea of a medieval fairytale castle with its rounded turrets and moat (27 miles).

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Hever Castle...

With the oldest part of this wonderful castle dating back to 1270, it was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII in the 1500s and subsequently restored in the early part of the 20th century by the millionaire William Waldorf Astor (30 miles).

 

gardens to visit...

 

Sheffield Park...

This quite magnificent National Trust garden, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown, and home to the National Collection of Ghent azaleas, features four large lakes, cascades and waterfalls. The bluebells, rhododendrons and autumnal trees offer a dramatic all-year round display of ever-changing colours (19 miles).

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Borde Hill Gardens...

Set within 150 acres of traditional parkland, and surrounding a superb Tudor mansion, the 17-acre formal garden is laid out in a series of ‘living garden rooms’, each with its own distinctive style and character. Its creator, at the end of the 19th century, sponsored expeditions of great plant hunters to the Far East, Asia, India, South America and Africa and this provided the botanically rich collection of plants and trees. Seasonal colour is provided by the spectacular plantings of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and magnolias. Heritage Lottery Funding allowed the restoration of the Victorian Greenhouses (24 miles).

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Wakehurst Place...

Leased by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1965 from the National Trust, Wakehurst Place is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in the High Weald of Sussex. This area provides higher rainfall, moisture retentive soil and a range of microclimates to which its fine collection of trees and rare plants are suited. The aim of its conservation project is to save flower species from extinction in the wild and the Millennium Seed Bank is a compelling visit with its giant floor-to-ceiling ‘seed wall’ and white-coated ‘boffins’ working behind big glass windows (25 miles).

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Standen...

Considered a showpiece of the Arts & Crafts movement, this National Trust house displays beautiful William Morris wallpapers and textiles. There’s an informal hillside garden to enjoy with magnificent views and woodland walks through the tranquil Standen Estate (25.4 miles).

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Nymans...

Set around a romantic house and ruins, in a beautiful 275-acre wooded estate, this 20th century garden holds a collection of rare and important plants. The National Trust has recently restored the sunken rock garden, rose garden and arboretum (28 miles).

 

Shopping...

The medieval streets, tiny twittens (old Sussex word meaning alleyway) and lanes of nearby Brighton and Lewes are home to all manner of unique shops, galleries, boutiques, jewellers and antique shops. While providing a tranquil setting in which to relax and unwind, Hyde House is only a short drive away from excellent shopping, arts, restaurants, bars, cinemas and nightlife. And if all this isn’t enough to keep you busy, London is just over an hour away with a regular train service from nearby Berwick.

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non-drivers...

Guests without a car are well-served by the nearby Berwick Station which provides trains to Lewes, Brighton and elsewhere. The station is also a pick-up point for the Cuckmere Community Bus service, which takes in a number of local attractions.

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festivals...

A number of festivals take place throughout East Sussex and entry to many is free. Those mentioned below are all within a short distance from Hyde House.

Spring kicks off with the Eastbourne Festival - a two week celebration of art and culture during which there are artists’ open houses, art exhibitions and a film festival. A variety of literary, musical and theatrical events follow with Hastings’ annual May Day Jack-in-the-Green morris dancing and ceilidhs (pronounced Kay-lees) and the 3-week long major Brighton Festival which serves up 200 odd performances of world-class art and entertainment.

Charleston Farmhouse has its own festival which previously has included workshops to explore the lives and personalities of the various artists, intellectuals and writers known as the ‘Bloomsbury Group’ who were guests in this, the home of English painter Vanessa Bell.

Classical musicians, international soloists and choristers come together in Mayfield for the bi-annual Mayfield Festival which runs for 10 days in early May. In Battle, from late May to early June, a range of satirical and literary performances take place including celebrity one-person shows. Every Spring Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May, Telham plays host to blues, world music, folk and young bands.

On that same Bank Holiday Monday, Steyning celebrates its heritage with traditional crafts and farmers’ produce.

The world famous operative performances of Glyndebourne Festival Opera are held between May and August.

Every year, during the week leading up to the August Bank Holiday weekend, the village of Alfriston holds its own festival with a range of entertainment, culminating in a grand fair on the Tye (village green). For some 30 years, the village of Chiddingly has run its own festival, which features live music, art, dance, puppetry, theatre, poetry and storytelling. The festival usually takes place over the last week of September/first week of October.

Throughout the Autumn, the county’s Bonfire Societies hold torchlight processions and firework displays - a tradition begun over 300 years ago to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot. These celebrations take place in a number of villages and towns, perhaps the most well-known being held at Lewes.

The famous Veteran Car Run is hosted annually by the town of Brighton and if you’re visiting around Christmas, you’ll enjoy Alfriston’s old-fashioned Village Christmas complete with period costumes, craft stalls and carol singers.

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walking...

There is immediate access to a network of walks to suit all ages and agility from a gentle stroll to a nearby pub, to a bracing climb to the top of the Downs. From Hyde House you have access to miles of footpaths through beautiful countryside with ancient woodland, rolling hills, exhilarating cliffs and stunning views. Maps: OS Explorer 123 and OS Landranger 199 detail the immediate environs. Berwick Railway Station reference is TQ 526068.

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cycling...

East Sussex has many cycle routes, which range from thrilling rides across the High Weald to gentle traffic-free trails suitable for all the family. There is immediate Access to The National Cycle Network and information on local cycle routes can be downloaded from the websites of East Sussex County Council and ‘Sustrans’ (the sustainable transport charity). Also within easy reach is The Cuckoo Trail cycle path, which runs between Polegate and Heathfield. Earmarked as a National Park, the South DownsWay is one of England’s finest National Trails across 100 miles (160 Kilometres) of rolling chalk downland. Although this exhilarating route through Sussex and Hampshire never rises above 700 feet (216 Metres), it offers wonderful far-reaching views in all directions.

 

 

Hyde House is only 6 miles from the Seven Sisters Country Park - 280 hectares of chalk cliffs and grassland through which the Cuckmere River valley meanders. This area of unspoilt coastline can be enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers and offers the opportunity for a number of outdoor activities such as canoeing. Situated in an 18th century barn, the Visitor Centre at Cuckmere Haven provides useful information on the Park with displays and exhibitions. There is also a shop with leaflets, maps and souvenirs on sale as well as a restaurant.

 

“I never get between the pines
But I smell the Sussex air;
Nor I never come on a belt of sand
But my home is there.
And along the sky the line of the Downs So noble and so bare...”
Hilaire Belloc - The South Country - 1870

 

Hyde House