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A Visit To Anne Of Cleves House

A photograph of Anne of Cleves House in Lewes

On the day I went to Monk’s House, I stopped for an early lunch at Anne of Cleves House in the nearby town of Lewes, the place Virginia and Leonard had bought an unconventional, windmill, home, before quickly moving on to Rodmell.

As part of her annulment settlement, Anne of Cleves received a number of properties. She never stayed at the house in Lewes; she lived at Bletchingley Palace in Surrey. I’d say it’s possible her house in Lewes seemed a bit too small and potentially out of the way compared to her other homes. It wasn’t as grand, either.

A photograph of a museum room with vehicles, grandfather clocks, and display stands

The Sussex Archaeology Society own the House and have kitted it out both authentically and in view of their own interests.

My original intention had only been lunch; my penchant for historical sites has to stop somewhere so I decided that the lack of Anne should be a deciding factor. The cafe’s garden, grown in accordance with Tudor ideas and bearing our modern wooden picnic tables, is small but beautiful. Lunch was similar, a super coffee and panini with salad. The interior of the cafe is in the left-most front room of the house.

A photograph of the front right room, with tables set out for workshops

Here I of course went inside.

Through the porch, and the ticket office/shop takes up the first room on the left (just before the cafe), a stunning room of Tudor goodness. There are two doors towards the back; the left takes you to a small vestibule from which you can access other rooms; the right goes up a different staircase to the bedroom. (There’s also another room to the right of the porch in which the Society have set up tables – pictured above.)

A photograph of the bedroom

There’s no linear way around so first up I went to the bedroom, a space that was originally split into three, now split into a semi-open two. It’s a magnificent room, certainly if it could have looked like it does now back in the day -sans radiator – Anne might have loved it. The ceiling extends up into the eaves. There is are two fireplaces – now bricked up – and, as the Society’s design choices show, plenty of room for a number of people to bustle about. Most of the furniture is old and includes a tester bed headboard. The windows look out over road, sideway, and back garden.

A photograph of the kitchen

Back down the stairs which have been reinforced (the original staircase goes a bit further but it’s open to the room – probably the reason it’s roped off), through the shop to the vestibule. Downstairs in the kitchen and a cellar that has been turned into a museum room for examples of iron forgery, mostly fire backs. The upstairs room is dedicated to vehicles, grandfather clocks, and small items (pictured above).

A photograph of the back garden

The back garden, accessed via the vestibule, is smallish and peaceful. The gardeners have made a wonderful job of making it colourful and productive – berries hung along the barn eaves.

A photograph of flowers in the back garden

Looking around the house and having lunch took about an hour in total – you could make it longer but it’s definitely a casual sort of place, not requiring any planning beyond getting there. This makes it quite special – an easy site to add to you list, so long as you don’t live far or are staying nearby. Certainly if you’re visiting other sites in the area and have a lot to pack in, stopping here for lunch is a very good idea as not every site has a cafe and the food is ample.

To sum up my time there, an unplanned venture turned into a memorable experience.

A photograph of the back garden, looking towards the house

 
 

Kelly

September 12, 2019, 1:14 am

I especially like the garden shots.

jessicabookworm

September 14, 2019, 8:13 pm

Charlie, this sounds like a perfect place to stop off for lunch on your way to the Woolf house. What a lovely day you must have had. I particularly love your photos of the garden.

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