Anyone who has ever read The Secret Garden will understand the magic and intrigue that can be conjured up by a sprawling, ancient building surrounded by an equally fantastical garden. Immersed within three acres of glorious gardens, Peter and Jane’s historic family home, a stunning Wealden farmhouse, is tantalisingly full of mystery and intrigue.

The garden is a dreamy combination of mature lawns, magnificent topiary and intimate spaces divided by box hedging and moss-covered walls

The garden is a dreamy combination of mature lawns, magnificent topiary and intimate spaces divided by box hedging and moss-covered walls

A pair of dams creates two lovely ponds. “The sound of water is lovely though it’s not quite so nice when it’s a rampaging torrent!” explains Jane

A pair of dams creates two lovely ponds. “The sound of water is lovely though it’s not quite so nice when it’s a rampaging torrent!” explains Jane

The new kitchen extension was built by Hurstway Construction. The lamps on the sideboard (above) came from one of the Wealden Times Fairs and the trough/planter in the middle of the windowsill is from Capital to Coast in Cranbrook

The new kitchen extension was built by Hurstway Construction. The lamps on the sideboard (above) came from one of the Wealden Times Fairs and the trough/planter in the middle of the windowsill is from Capital to Coast in Cranbrook

When Jane and Peter bought the house in 1984, much of the work that had been carried out in the 1930s remained, as some of it does today, though not all of the work was to their taste, however: “He built on an awful kitchen wing, which we have since knocked down,” says Jane. In its place, they built an extension which is now home to a living-room-cum-snug on the ground floor with a huge spare bedroom overhead.

When Jane and Peter bought the house in 1984, much of the work that had been carried out in the 1930s remained, as some of it does today, though not all of the work was to their taste, however: “He built on an awful kitchen wing, which we have since knocked down,” says Jane. In its place, they built an extension which is now home to a living-room-cum-snug on the ground floor with a huge spare bedroom overhead.

The dining room is in fact the oldest in the house

The dining room is in fact the oldest in the house

A corner of the downstairs bathroom

A corner of the downstairs bathroom

The front reception room’s sunken fireplace was apparently the only warm place to sit. “My theory is, that the man who did all the work in the 1930s raised the floor – making the fireplace appear sunken,” says Jane

The front reception room’s sunken fireplace was apparently the only warm place to sit. “My theory is, that the man who did all the work in the 1930s raised the floor – making the fireplace appear sunken,” says Jane

Despite being such an old house, and in some ways a typical Wealden timber-framed building, it is surprisingly light inside with large rooms and relatively high ceilings. “It’s quite surprising, isn’t it?” says Jane. “Friends say it has a slightly Tuscan feel about it.”

Despite being such an old house, and in some ways a typical Wealden timber-framed building, it is surprisingly light inside with large rooms and relatively high ceilings. “It’s quite surprising, isn’t it?” says Jane. “Friends say it has a slightly Tuscan feel about it.”

The hall curtains were made from fabric bought from Bell House Fabrics & Interiors in Cranbrook and sewn by LilyMatthews

The hall curtains were made from fabric bought from Bell House Fabrics & Interiors in Cranbrook and sewn by LilyMatthews

The gun above the fireplace is from Saudi Arabia, it’s a Bedouin Tribal Rifle

The gun above the fireplace is from Saudi Arabia, it’s a Bedouin Tribal Rifle

Jane and Peter found the bannister post outside. “It was obviously an old gate post, we found it in the garden and linked it up with the beams.”

Jane and Peter found the bannister post outside. “It was obviously an old gate post, we found it in the garden and linked it up with the beams.”

A large spare bedroom is on the top of the former kitchen wing

A large spare bedroom is on the top of the former kitchen wing

The contrasting decor of the first floor bathrooms

The contrasting decor of the first floor bathrooms

A firepace in one of the guest rooms now houses a studded trunk

A firepace in one of the guest rooms now houses a studded trunk

The master bedroom features stripped dark beams and bare plaster

The master bedroom features stripped dark beams and bare plaster

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

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