On the way back from Morocco, I stayed near Gatwick and having a day to spare I thought I’d visit Standen House on the way back. What a find!
After spending a week in Morocco, it was like having a booster injection of all things English. I even managed to swiftly demolish a cream tea (with Cornish clotted cream) in the cafe. The house is furnished in the Arts and Crafts style, with ceramics, furniture, hand-embroidered quilts and tapestries and even William Morris wallpaper, fabrics and carpets. I spent the day oohing and ahhing over everything I saw. The house was built in the late 19th century for the Beale family by the architect Philip Webb, a close friend of William Morris (hence the strong Arts & Crafts Movement connection). It still has the original lighting, an innovation at the time it was built.
The garden is just as lovely and has great views over Sussex, bordering the Ashdown Forest. It contains an orchard, croquet lawn, quarry and rose garden and woodland walks. You can also do walks along public footpaths nearby. Mrs Beale and later her daughters were responsible for the garden’s high standard, with their strong knowledge and keen interest in plants.
The National Trust, who now own the house, are doing lots of work to improve it and regain its former glory. You can even stay in a self-catering apartment in the property itself. Check for opening times, as the hours change during the winter months.
Address: West Hoathly Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 4NE. Tel: 01342 323029
See http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk for more details.