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Surreal Sussex

Posted 6 September 2016 by Andrew Gardner google authorship button

Farley Farm House, East Sussex

The Surrealist house near Newhaven has been receiving media attention lately - have you seen it? It's called Farley Farm House and was owned by the artist Roland Penrose, who more or less brought Surrealism to this country, and his wife, the gutsy American photo-journalist Lee Miller. This is a fabulous piece of art and social history right in the heart of Sussex, and it's open every Sunday until the end of October.

In fact Sussex has quite a surprising tradition of Surrealism and its patrons, another notable example being West Dean, which was owned by Edward James. As well as publishing John Betjeman's first poetry book, he was a patron and sponsor of both Dali and Magritte. However, I digress, I was talking about Farley Farm - viewing by guided tour only, by the way, which I think gives the best of a place like this since visitors can learn so much from the knowledgeable guides.

Friends who spent holidays at the Sussex farmhouse included the artists Picasso and Miro, so yes, of course we're going back in time a little. And while to many of us Picasso and Miro might be the most famous names connected with the house (a lovely anecdote says that at one point any arty-looking traveller arriving at Newhaven who wasn't sure of the address they were heading for was automatically taken to Farley Farm House), let's not forget the British contingent of Surrealists who visited too, including Eileen Agar and Richard Hamilton - both of whom are represented in works you can see at Chichester's Pallant House Gallery. Penrose designed the sculpture garden that surrounds Farley Farm House and with indoor artworks by many of its guests as well as its residents, the house looks vibrant and feels lived-in still.

This fascinating Sussex house and gallery is in the wonderfully-named village of Muddles Green, near Chiddingly - just off the A22 if you're driving. It's easily accessible from many of our own lovely holiday cottages near Lewes and Eastbourne (click here to see our selection) and would also make a great day out by bike or on foot if you're staying locally.