Thursday, 15 September 2011

September gardens II - Rudyard Kipling's Sussex

The Elms - rented by Rudyard Kipling for just $1.60 a week
Many great writers have lived in and loved Sussex, with its hilly landscape and glimpses of the sea, including Rudyard Kipling, who moved here in 1897 and stayed until he died. He lived first in Rottingdean, near Brighton, when he moved into his aunt's holiday home, just a stone's throw from the sea. It was here that he wrote many of his much-loved "Just So" stories. The family were so happy in the village, they finally rented a house for themselves -The Elms (above) on the edge of the village green - for the princely sum of three guineas a week (approx $1.60).
The Kipling Gardens at the rear of Elms House have been restored during the last 30 years
The former walled garden adjoining Elms House became completely derelict during the latter half of the 20th century, and in 1980, had fallen prey to a potential housing development. But the local Rottingdean Preservation Society managed to raise the required £51,000 to purchase the land and since then the gardens - named after Kipling - have been restored and saved as a public space. There is even a bowling green at the heart of the garden.
In 1902 Kipling and his family bought their own home in East Burwash - Bateman's - a handsome Jacobean house, in the heart of the lush, green Sussex Weald. It had no bathroom, no electricity and only partial running water when they moved there, but Kipling fell in love with the house, and as one of the most famous writers in England, his annual salary of £5,000 was more than enough to purchase the property and make all the necessary changes to turn it into a family home. He remained here until his death in 1936. 
The rose garden - still in full bloom in September
Kipling fans will love the house, which is filled with fine furniture and paintings, and gives a real insight into the way the family lived a hundred years ago. The study, in particular, is filled with Kipling memorabilia, including his typewriter and his precious globe. He was always a great traveller, so it was perhaps surprising that he settled for so long in one place. But he loved Bateman's, and the family did a lot of entertaining here.
The gardens are charming, and feature a working mill house, large orchard and a spectacular rose garden in front of the house, that's still looking wonderful, even so late in the season. There is no structured garden here, with herbaceous borders and walkways, just open spaces, views of the house and a fine river walk. The whole atmosphere is very relaxed and you really feel that Kipling is not far away when you walk around the property. Close enough to Merriments Gardens to combine the two in a day, and certainly one to put on your Wish List if you're a Kipling fan!


  1. Fabulous garden! Though seeing that lovely Croquet lawn does hit home, that ours has some way to go yet!

  2. beautiful! loved the rose garden, still in bloom!!! incredible



  3. The road to Sussex is filled with beautiful scenery. ;-)
    -- Bom