In light of the release of her new book Have You Been Good? Vanessa Nicolson shows Wealden Times around the house that was once owned by her grandparents, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Following a few alterations, Vanessa has created a beautiful family home surrounded by stunning gardens tended by her husband, avid plant collector Andrew Davidson.

The kitchen overlooks the wonderful garden

The kitchen overlooks the wonderful garden

The interconnecting kitchen and dining area

The interconnecting kitchen and dining area

A jug of dried honesty catches the light beautifully on a windowsill

A jug of dried honesty catches the light beautifully on a windowsill

In the sitting room, the is it? isn’t it? debate over Vita’s chair (to the right of the image) continues

In the sitting room, the is it? isn’t it? debate over Vita’s chair (to the right of the image) continues

Vanessa's father liked to sit and read during his visits to Sissinghurst

Vanessa's father liked to sit and read during his visits to Sissinghurst

The room that was Rosa’s is simply furnished and above the fireplace on the wall there are picture frames containing some of her things. In the centre is the butterfly skirt that Vanessa writes movingly about in her memoir

The room that was Rosa’s is simply furnished and above the fireplace on the wall there are picture frames containing some of her things. In the centre is the butterfly skirt that Vanessa writes movingly about in her memoir

Daughter Ellie’s room awaits her visits

Daughter Ellie’s room awaits her visits

The master bedroom is a substantial rectangular room, uncluttered and restful. Wardrobes along one wall of the room are painted in a light green, each panel decorated with a simple sprig of wild flowers. In a glass bottle sweet-smelling Daphne is arranged, cut from a bush outside the front door

The master bedroom is a substantial rectangular room, uncluttered and restful. Wardrobes along one wall of the room are painted in a light green, each panel decorated with a simple sprig of wild flowers. In a glass bottle sweet-smelling Daphne is arranged, cut from a bush outside the front door

The master bedroom walls are painted a rich rust

The master bedroom walls are painted a rich rust

Vanessa converted one of the bedrooms into a bathroom. It is everything a bathroom should be and so seldom is; light, spacious and rather dreamy, the sort of room you could float away in

Vanessa converted one of the bedrooms into a bathroom. It is everything a bathroom should be and so seldom is; light, spacious and rather dreamy, the sort of room you could float away in

Andrew’s garden blurs the line between cultivated and wild

Andrew’s garden blurs the line between cultivated and wild

It’s a large garden for one person and Andrew manages it on his own, adding resignedly “even if I had a team of five gardeners, we’d still get thistles in here.”

It’s a large garden for one person and Andrew manages it on his own, adding resignedly “even if I had a team of five gardeners, we’d still get thistles in here.”

The hallway leads straight through into an airy conservatory

The hallway leads straight through into an airy conservatory

The garden at Horserace has inevitably been hugely influenced by Vanessa’s grandmother Vita

The garden at Horserace has inevitably been hugely influenced by Vanessa’s grandmother Vita

A magnolia in the garden

A magnolia in the garden

A large Portland stone sculpture by local sculptor Jeremy Nelson is the focal point of the rose garden overlooked by the kitchen

A large Portland stone sculpture by local sculptor Jeremy Nelson is the focal point of the rose garden overlooked by the kitchen

Andrew likes to encourage the garden to leach out into the woods, blurring the boundary between the house and the beyond

Andrew likes to encourage the garden to leach out into the woods, blurring the boundary between the house and the beyond

We walk through the orchard containing apple, pear, quince and Vita’s favourite cherry, Prunus ‘Pandora’

The woods are brimming with blossom and bluebells

The woods are brimming with blossom and bluebells

A carpet of bluebells in the garden

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming & Helen Barton

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