by Aspect County

Possingworth Manor, East Sussex

A 17th century manor house with enchanting walled garden has come to the market in East Sussex with a guide price of £4.5m. Possingworth Manor, which is Grade II* listed, has links to Queen Camilla, Virginia Woolf and a number of notable former residents. It occupies a splendid rural setting outside the picturesque village of Waldron in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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From its elevated position, the principal reception rooms and bedrooms are afforded far-reaching views over the gardens and land belonging to the property. The generous ground floor has three separate reception spaces, including the impressive 13.25m by 5.72m drawing room with a magnificent open fireplace, a characterful reception all with open fireplace and wooden panelling and a dining room, adjacent to the kitchen. The kitchen has space for a breakfast table and a door out to the covered outdoor pool and terrace area. At the other end of the kitchen there is a door to the two-bedroom annexe, which provides excellent staff or guest accommodation. At the far end of the ground floor is a cosy study, which has folded linen panelling. There are six double bedrooms on the first floor and three bathrooms, with a further five bedrooms, family bathroom, linen room and store rooms on the second floor.

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Outside, the south east facing stone terrace provides a delightful seating area with lovely views over the gardens to the pasture and woodland beyond. Much work was undertaken in recent times to restore and maintain the impressive garden infrastructure, including the walled ha-ha, with its sunken paved area and gate and in particular, the magical walled garden. This has a revolving summer house and a plethora of fruit trees. The detached two-storey barn has a garage, workshop, studio and store spaces. The land at Possingworth Manor extends to just over 17 acres and includes the gardens, former grass tennis court area, pasture, a woodland copse and a pond.

The first recorded mention of a manor at Possingworth dates to 1281, however the current house is thought to have been completed in 1657 by the then owner Thomas Offley, whose initials appear alongside this date above a doorway to the east of the house. 

In 1830, a fire destroyed the south wing and this was only rebuilt at a much later date, some hundred years later. In 1864 the whole estate was purchased by the famed merchant banker Louis Huth who, together with his wife Helen, was renowned for his patronage of the arts. 

Between 1918 and 1919 Possingworth Manor was leased by Alice Keppel (the long-time mistress of King Edward VII and great grandmother of Queen Camilla) for her daughter Violet Trefusis and new husband Denys Robert Trefusis, this was however at the height of Violet’s love affair with Vita Sackville-West. This disastrous marriage was largely engineered by Alice to supress rumours about her daughter’s affair with Vita Sackville West. The affair was featured in Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando: A Biography where the character of Princess Sasha is based on Violet.

Later, Lord Strathcona, the 3rd Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, purchased the manor and in 1921 he replaced the razed south wing using the expertise of George Trollope and Colls LTD who are most recognised for building Claridge’s Hotel in London. Lord Strathcona repurposed or created many of the interior features to ensure a seamless facsimile of the original south wing and a Jacobean interior, incorporating styles from elsewhere, including the 14th Century possibly French fireplace in the hall and, as a nod to his family’s connection to Canada, the decorative lead guttering featuring a beaver. From 1936 until 1952 the house was owned by Sir Robert Craigie, British Ambassador in Japan (193741), while in 1939, the author, critic and journalist, Dame Rebecca West, rented Possingworth for the summer and made visits to Leonard and Virginia Woolf whilst working on her famous travel book Black Lamb Grey Falcon’.

During WWII Possingworth Manor was used to billet Canadian forces and after the war the house was taken on by Major Pat Reid, author of the Colditz stories. In 1972 he served as the President of the Blackboys Cricket Club.

The Jacobean house is now being sold by Rupert and Elizabeth Neville along with their siblings Georgina and Henrietta, whose parents Sir Roger and Lady Neville bought the house in 1990. For the past 30 years the house has been enjoyed by multiple generations of the Neville family, but with the passing of both of their parents the family believe now is right the time for Possingworth Manor to have new custodians.

Robert Jacobs, head of Savills Tunbridge Wells comments: Possingworth Manor is a splendid 17th century manor with an enchanting walled garden situated in beautiful East Sussex countryside. Steeped in many chapters of fascinating history, from its elevated position, the stunning reception rooms and bedrooms of the Manor are afforded wonderful far-reaching views over the gardens and land. Much work was undertaken in recent times to restore and maintain the impressive garden infrastructure, including the walled ha-ha, with its sunken paved area and gate and in particular, the magical walled garden. Possingworth Manor has to be one of the most beautiful Jacobean manors to come to the market in years.”

Guide price £4,500,000

Possingworth Manor, Blackboys

Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 5HE