Posted 1 November 2012 by Andrew Gardner
There's no shortage in Sussex of what I call ‘days out houses' which we show under our Places to Visit - historic properties ranging from stately homes to quaint cottages, some privately owned and others in the hands of organisations like the National Trust and English Heritage - but one of my favourites is Standen, the Arts & Crafts house near East Grinstead.
I visited Standen first as a teenager, when grandiose piles that felt like museums did little for me unless they had an interesting art collection or a beautiful garden (which many do, of course). But what immediately grabbed me about this place was not just that it has both of those but also its timeless feel - it's a real house, you could imagine real people living real lives there through many different times. The building, designed by Philip Webb, was so original and ahead of its time and the interior is pure Arts & Crafts, from the William Morris wallpaper to the William de Morgan ceramics. Then there's the setting, on that hillside surrounded by glorious woodland and views over the Sussex High Weald - especially at this time of year, when the trees turn golden before shedding their leaves to reveal the full extent of the vista.
Since that first visit I've been back many times, from just after the Great Storm of 1987, when the views were kind of decimated, to this summer. When friends from Australia or the US come over Standen's one of the first places I suggest they visit, and everyone falls for its charms.
So when you're staying in one of our cosy Sussex cottages and we do have cottages around East Grinstead and you are looking for a lovely day out, I do recommend Standen. It's open at weekends throughout November; if the weather's not great there's so much of interest indoors that you won't mind at all, and if it's good there are some lovely walks around the grounds with planting and views for year-round interest. Enjoy!