Small is beautiful - Alfriston Clergy House
|The Arts & Crafts terraces are a feature of the garden at Alfriston|
Take a half timber-framed house in Sussex with a thatched roof, add three acres of gardens, throw in a little history and you've got a picture postcard of Olde England - it would be hard to find anywhere more representative of our ancient heritage on a glorious summer day than Alfriston Clergy House! I visited this afternoon and wanted to share this charming property with my readers.
|The half timber-framed Clergy House dates from the mid 14th century|
The house was built in the 14th century and sits at the edge of a village green, presided over by St Andrew's Church. It was derelict by the end of the 19th century, but was saved by the local vicar, Reverend Benyon. In 1896 the National Trust, which had been created just one year earlier by three Victorian philanthropists - Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley - took the Clergy House on as their first historical property. Now, more than a century later, it continues to attract visitors from all over the world to look at both house and garden.
|Former tenant, Sir Robert Witt, laid out and planted the Arts & Crafts style terraces at Alfriston|
The house is framed on three sides by garden. At one side there is an orchard filled with medlar and quince; in the middle there are reed beds overlooking the River Cuckmere; and at the far end there are terraces, planted and decorated in Arts & Crafts style by the tenant who lived there in the 1920s - Sir Robert Witt - who brought the huge terracotta jars, which are such a notable feature here, back from his overseas travels.
|The house overlooks the reed beds at the edge of the River Cuckmere|
If you're going to visit Alfriston, it's well worth walking round the village too. This is a quintessential English hamlet, filled with charming small shops, pubs and restaurants. The Clergy House is open six days a week until the end of August 10.30-17.00 (closed on Thursdays). And if you fancy visiting other gardens in the area, Charleston is near by, as is Michelham Priory.
|The flower and vegetable potager at Alfriston|