There is no better air than here for work.” Is how John Maynard Keynes described the atmosphere at Tilton House in East Sussex, the country residence that he shared with his wife Lydia for many years. Just a little further down the lane from the more famous Charleston, home of the Bloomsbury group, Tilton began life as a sturdy Sussex farmhouse, but was given a more elegant façade in the 18th century.

The generously proportioned entrance hall leads through into the kitchen

The generously proportioned entrance hall leads through into the kitchen

On the upper level of the kitchen there is a long wooden table, one of a pair made by a local carpenter in Polegate

On the upper level of the kitchen there is a long wooden table, one of a pair made by a local carpenter in Polegate

A few steps down into the working part of the kitchen, the other dining table is also surrounded by folding wooden chairs, so that guests can all eat together companionably in front of the splendid British red Aga

A few steps down into the working part of the kitchen, the other dining table is also surrounded by folding wooden chairs, so that guests can all eat together companionably in front of the splendid British red Aga

The spacious courtyard

The spacious courtyard

The tiled fountain that Duncan Bell created. “We’ve just got it working again and it’s wonderful to have the tinkling sound of the water carrying through into the house,” says Polly

The tiled fountain that Duncan Bell created. “We’ve just got it working again and it’s wonderful to have the tinkling sound of the water carrying through into the house,” says Polly

The library wing was commissioned by Maynard Keynes, and his architect, George Kennedy designed a building that extended from the existing stables and is a light-filled, serene space. Arched windows and a glazed door look out towards the garden and the South Downs beyond.

The library wing was commissioned by Maynard Keynes, and his architect, George Kennedy designed a building that extended from the existing stables and is a light-filled, serene space. Arched windows and a glazed door look out towards the garden and the South Downs beyond.

An anteroom is used according to the guests’ requirements as a breakfast room, games room or chill-out space. There are floor to ceiling shelves stuffed with books, and between two leather club chairs, a circular mahogany table also offers a carefully arranged selection of more fiction along with plenty of field guides, including the now highly collectable Observer guides

An anteroom is used according to the guests’ requirements as a breakfast room, games room or chill-out space. There are floor to ceiling shelves stuffed with books, and between two leather club chairs, a circular mahogany table also offers a carefully arranged selection of more fiction along with plenty of field guides, including the now highly collectable Observer guides

Vibrant red geraniums line the walkway between the house and library

Vibrant red geraniums line the walkway between the house and library

Across the wide hallway is the drawing room. A pair of striped sofas face each other in front of the fireplace and a garnet red velvet sofa has its back to the window overlooking the courtyard

Across the wide hallway is the drawing room. A pair of striped sofas face each other in front of the fireplace and a garnet red velvet sofa has its back to the window overlooking the courtyard

The ascent to the landing features an unusual and beautiful painting by artist Marco Crivello chosen from Four Square Fine Arts in Lewes

The ascent to the landing features an unusual and beautiful painting by artist Marco Crivello chosen from Four Square Fine Arts in Lewes

Upstairs, the landing features another “tree in a jar”, its crisp green leaves make a wonderful contrast to the pale grey walls. “We used the same grey paint colour up here as in the library. I mixed most of the colours in the house myself,” says Polly

Upstairs, the landing features another “tree in a jar”, its crisp green leaves make a wonderful contrast to the pale grey walls. “We used the same grey paint colour up here as in the library. I mixed most of the colours in the house myself,” says Polly

The guest bedrooms and bathrooms are decorated in varying shades of olive and moss green and are all simply furnished with grey silk curtains, mahogany or painted chests of drawers and adorned with simple posies of flowers cut from the garden

The guest bedrooms and bathrooms are decorated in varying shades of olive and moss green and are all simply furnished with grey silk curtains, mahogany or painted chests of drawers and adorned with simple posies of flowers cut from the garden

An immaculately presented bedroom and bathroom feature crisp monochrome colour schemes and more of Polly’s freshly-picked flower arrangements

An immaculately presented bedroom and bathroom feature crisp monochrome colour schemes and more of Polly’s freshly-picked flower arrangements

The couple are in the process of restoring the gardens and have been fortunate to find a really talented professional gardener who previously worked “next-door” at Charleston. First on the agenda was the kitchen garden. Polly and Shaun wanted to grow produce that could be cooked and offered to their guests.

The couple are in the process of restoring the gardens and have been fortunate to find a really talented professional gardener who previously worked “next-door” at Charleston. First on the agenda was the kitchen garden. Polly and Shaun wanted to grow produce that could be cooked and offered to their guests.

A path gently winds its way through the woods to a magnificent yurt. Inside the vast dome, the supports have been cut from hazel trees at Stanmer Park in Brighton. On its wooden floor there are yoga mats laid out in a neat circle ready for the next group

A path gently winds its way through the woods to a magnificent yurt. Inside the vast dome, the supports have been cut from hazel trees at Stanmer Park in Brighton. On its wooden floor there are yoga mats laid out in a neat circle ready for the next group

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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