Historic houses of the South Downs

Are you a history buff who loves discovering all about past lives? Or do you adore charming architecture and typical English elegance? The famously picturesque South Downs has plenty to keep fans of heritage properties interested. Here are three of our top choices.

Charleston in Firle, East Sussex

Ideal for literature lovers as well as history enthusiasts, this beautiful home, art gallery and garden was home to Vanessa Bell from 1916. It became the perfect place for the Bloomsbury Group to meet, including the beloved novelist Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard. Unique in style, its post-Impressionist design is as bright and rich as it was one hundred years ago. Displaying a varied collection of artwork by Renoir, Delacroix and more, this unorthodox home also boasts a café and shop. Open year-round, you can enjoy a tour with one of the expert and enthusiastic guides.

Preston Manor in Brighton, East Sussex

First established circa 1600, Preston Manor is a sprawling beauty with over twenty rooms for you to explore. Set over four floors, this lavish manor house shows you how people lived in the earth twentieth century. Get a glimpse into the “upstairs downstairs” system typical of Edwardian life. You can visit the nursery in the attic of the house, the servant’s quarters in the basement, the pet cemetery and more. Closed for the winter, you can arrange a pre-booked group visit.

Anne of Cleves House Museum in Lewes, East Sussex

Henry VIII is one of the most fascinating British monarchs of all time – this house was given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce from Henry and it retains all the trappings of Tudor life. Timber framed and furnished with gorgeous authentic pieces, it gives you an insight into life in the 1500s. Set in splendid rural surroundings, you may feel like you have stepped back in time. With workshops to help children learn about Henry’s reign, it is perfect for all the family. You can also enjoy a rest stop in the very English tearoom.

So bring history to life and start planning your trip now. These gorgeous houses make for a great day out in all seasons.

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