Monday, 29 September 2008

Standen, West Hoathly Road, East Grinstead

Late-Victorian country house lavishly decorated in the Arts and Crafts style, which means lots of carpets and wallpaper with dizzying patterns of swirling fruit, flowers, birds and other flora and fauna. Not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey, but the house is also packed with period fixtures and fittings, giving a good insight into how the wealthy lived at the tail end of the 19th century. The upstairs windows also offer pleasant views of rolling Sussex countryside and the National Trust, which owns Standen, lays on Arts and Crafts-themed quizzes and colouring sheets for kids.

Successful solicitor
Work up an appetite by climbing the steep steps and winding paths in the craggy and highly varied garden, before visiting the voluminous barn of a restaurant for tea and a slice of coffee and walnut cake. The mildly-energetic can follow the waymarked one-mile stroll through a small wood or a two-mile walk that skirts down into the scenic valley, marred only by the odd electricity pylon. Originally, the holiday home of a "successful solicitor", who apparently had an even larger residence in London, a tour of Standen’s house and garden is worth the £7.80 entrance fee. 7/10