Country houses for sale

The Manor House for sale in the English village where the local pub landlord once refused to take a Picasso in exchange for a round of drinks

The village of Chiddingly in East Sussex is a delightful place full of stories, and one of its most beautiful homes is currently up for sale.

It’s not often that you can say a house is ‘only’ 450 years old, but that’s the case with The Manor House, on the edge of charming Chiddingly village near Lewes, East Sussex.

The reason is that there has been a house on the site for 700 years, but that property was extensively rebuilt in about 1574 to create the grand manor house that’s in essence what still survives to this day. Toby Whittome of Jackson-Stops in Haywards Heath quotes a guide price of £2.5m for this impressive, Grade II*-listed home — a place whose 16th century reinvention was at the request of Sir John Jefferay, who served as Elizabeth I’s Chief Baron of Exchequer from 1577.

Sympathetically maintained by the current owners, the interior of The Manor House is a blend of ancient architecture and contemporary style, with vaulted ceilings, exposed timbers, oak floors, original windows and fireplaces enhanced by modern systems and underfloor heating.

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Set in almost 1¼ acres of pretty gardens and grounds that include a walled kitchen garden, the house offers excellent family and guest accommodation, including two reception halls, elegant sitting and drawing rooms, a family room/dining room, cheerful kitchen/breakfast room, master and guest suites, four further bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Chiddingly itself is an ancient place which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and clearly had high-powered visitors long before Sir John Jeffray’s time — and in 1999 a metal detectorist made an extraordinary find that’s become known as the Chiddingly Boar: ‘The white boar badge was used by Richard III’s household and followers between 1472 and 1485,’ the British Museum explain on their website of the hat badge that is now in their collection.

The boar was Richard’s symbol, and thousands were made to mark his coronation in 1483. Almost all, however, were in bronze or pewter; this is the sole surviving example of one in silver, suggesting that it was given to one of Richard’s nobleman supporters who subsequently lost it.

More recently, Chiddingly has become something of an artists’ colony, and has held its own annual Arts festival for more than 40 years. It was for many years home to the artists Roland Penrose and Lee Miller, who lived at nearby Farley Farmhouse; Pablo Picasso, a friend of theirs, even came to visit several times.

It was during one of these visits that the artist decided to walk down to the local pub for a drink — the Six Bells, which is still running today – only to get there and realise that he’d forgotten his wallet. The pub’s erstwhile landlord apparently used to  the tale of how Picasso offered to pay for a round by doing a sketch; the landlord refused, and sent him back to go and get some money.

The Manor House in Chiddingly is for sale at £2.5 million through Jackson-Stope —  see more pictures and details.