Hailsham, in East Sussex, has like most English market towns, seen a number of changes to its building stock over the centuries, but the 15th century St. Mary’s Church still rises above all other newcomers and seems to draw the visitor to itself. Just within its shadow is a late 20th century shopping precinct named Vicarage Fields that gives a hint of the formerly large estate that belonged to the parish church. Although a new vicarage was constructed in the 1950s, the Georgian version has thankfully survived and can still be found tucked behind high brick walls just a short walk from the busy High Street.

“I was living in Kent and I saw this place advertised in the paper. I’d always loved this part of Sussex and once I saw the house I quickly made up my mind to buy it,” recalls Noel.

“I was living in Kent and I saw this place advertised in the paper. I’d always loved this part of Sussex and once I saw the house I quickly made up my mind to buy it,” recalls Noel

I used Amtico black and white floor tiles on the diagonal to keep the sense of an entrance hall but the colour of the walls is a welcoming one

"I used Amtico black and white floor tiles on the diagonal to keep the sense of an entrance hall but the colour of the walls is a welcoming one..."

The drawing room was originally two rooms, that were made into one in the 1830s. The walls are papered in Zoffany ‘Damask Design’

The drawing room was originally two rooms, that were made into one in the 1830s. The walls are papered in Zoffany ‘Damask Design’

Today, the curved walls of the drawing room, created by a vicar in the nineteenth century, have bookshelves with hidden doors that silently open when pressed in the right spot

Today, the curved walls of the drawing room, created by a vicar in the nineteenth century, have bookshelves with hidden doors that silently open when pressed in the right spot

A collection of 18th century English Delft plates is framed by a blue alcove

A collection of 18th century English Delft plates is framed by a blue alcove

The walls of the snug are a tightly packed collection of colourful paintings and drawings

The walls of the snug are a tightly packed collection of colourful paintings and drawings

The elegantly curving staircase

The elegantly curving staircase

The impressive Blue Room, with its slate blue French wallpaper, looks reminiscent of a Colonial American style

The impressive Blue Room, with its slate blue French wallpaper, looks reminiscent of a Colonial American style

everything has been carefully arranged, so each object provokes interest, but complements the rest to produce a harmonious whole

Everything has been carefully arranged, so each object provokes interest, but complements the rest to produce a harmonious whole

There are well-chosen pieces of walnut and mahogany furniture and a number of gilt mirrors and pictures including a modern oil

There are well-chosen pieces of walnut and mahogany furniture and a number of gilt mirrors and pictures including a modern oil

The morning room on the first floor is filled with books and periodicals for guests to browse

The morning room on the first floor is filled with books and periodicals for guests to browse

The walls have been covered in a warm yellow Colefax & Fowler stripe and the heavy herringbone patterned linen curtains reinforce the sense of discreet luxury

The walls have been covered in a warm yellow Colefax & Fowler stripe and the heavy herringbone patterned linen curtains reinforce the sense of discreet luxury

There are plenty of books and periodicals for guests to enjoy

There are plenty of books and periodicals for guests to enjoy

The second guest room known as the East Room is decorated in a soothing combination of teal blue and soft ochre

The second guest room known as the East Room is decorated in a soothing combination of teal blue and soft ochre

The entrance to Hailsham Grange

The entrance to Hailsham Grange

The bell-shaped summerhouse with its delicate trellis sides peeps through the gap in the hornbeam hedge

The bell-shaped summerhouse with its delicate trellis sides peeps through the gap in the hornbeam hedge

“Lots of my guests stay here as part of garden tours that they do, but the Japanese particularly seem to love the garden, perhaps because it’s so different to their own style,” says Noel

“Lots of my guests stay here as part of garden tours that they do, but the Japanese particularly seem to love the garden, perhaps because it’s so different to their own style,” says Noel

Dahlias in the garden

Dahlias in the garden

I suppose I’ve been influenced by places like Sissinghurst – and I have a little white garden

"I suppose I’ve been influenced by places like Sissinghurst – and I have a little white garden..."

Tall yew hedges lead the way to the white garden which is strongly reminiscent of the larger version at Sissinghurst

Tall yew hedges lead the way to the white garden which is strongly reminiscent of the larger version at Sissinghurst

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

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