Nestled within an area of ancient Saxon settlement, on the ridge of a wood near the popular town of Rye, is this picturesque 15th-century farmhouse overlooking the East Sussex countryside. Painstakingly restored by the current owners, with loving attention paid to every detail, its transformation was featured in our Almanac. Grade II-listed, the L-shaped vernacular home stretches to 3,790 sq ft across three floors, with extensive outbuildings, gardens, and a treehouse inspired by Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage. The historic town of Rye is close by for its variety of boutiques, pubs and eateries, as are the sandy beaches of Camber.
Setting the Scene
A waddling army of white Aylesbury ducks meander across rolling lawns, gliding across the willow-edged pond. In this setting, the timber frame façade with a terracotta peg-tiled roof harks back to times past. The east wing is the earliest part of the house—15th century in origin—with close stud work signalling a structure of some renown. The western end of the house was added in the 1600s, though portions of the ground floor timber-framed areas were reconstructed in red brick at a later date. The L-wing to the north of the house is a Georgian addition. With a steeply-pitched hip-tiled roof and casement windows, the house’s façade is a palimpsest of unrivalled charm. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The house is approached via a path neatly trimmed with box hedge with a red brick gable porch punctuating the façade. A timber door painted in tones of green opens onto a small hall and central passageway. A large reception room opens into the oldest part of the house, where chamfered beams, painted in creamy lime wash by Rose of Jericho, run overhead. A substantial inglenook fireplace constructed in early brick and of noticeable period proportions centres the room. Timber mullion windows have been picked out in tones of spring green, accentuating their leadwork panes. Brickwork laid in both herringbone and running pattern extends underfoot.
A dining room lies on the other side of the house; here, another large fireplace shares the central stack, a remnant of the traditional baffle-entry layout. Beyond is the country kitchen, the undeniable gem in the house’s crown. Painted in bright chrome yellow tones of Haymarket by Mylands, period cabinetry has been carefully reimagined, meshing thoughtfully with newer joinery. The expansive central fireplace is now home to a large cream Aga, perfect for toasting crumpets or drying damp toes after a day spent in the garden. The back kitchen of dreams lies beyond, providing the perfect space for arranging flowers or catering for a large summer party. A large storage pantry and downstairs WC complete the ground floor plan.
Ascending to the first floor leads to a central landing, around which three large bedrooms and two bathrooms are arranged. The principal bedroom lies to the rear of the plan and has a cleverly constructed en suite WC. With views across the garden and Sowdens Wood in the distance, it is a resoundingly quiet and peaceful space. The second, smaller double bedroom claims one of the house’s most astounding features: an oak tie beam of gargantuan proportions with an accompanying crown post. Beyond is the third double bedroom, with original mullion windows and wide elm floorboards. The second floor reveals a large bedroom in the eaves. A further room beyond this, currently concealed behind large wardrobes, has been plumbed for the possibility of an additional en suite. Adjacent attic storage space on this floor has also made for a popular playroom in the past.
The Great Outdoors
Verdant gardens extend around the house. Large areas have been gently encouraged to rewild, supporting native species of wildflower and grasses in the process. The more formal plantings closer to the house consist of borders teeming with herbaceous perennials and species shrubs. An orchard has been established with James Grieve apples, Conference pears, quince trees and figs. A large lawn extends down to the bordering woodland, providing the perfect space for a special treehouse, sometimes even commandeered for guest accommodation. A series of sheds was likely once the site of sties and stables, now providing useful storage for all manner of garden accoutrements.
Out and About
Udimore is surrounded by vast expanses of rolling East Sussex countryside until it meets the ancient Cinque Port of Rye, which is conveniently less than five miles away. Its rich historic centre is a patchwork of cobbled streets and beautiful independent shops and cafés. Attractions include Merchant & Mills, Puckhaber, Sailors, and The Rye Bookshop. The twisting lanes are peppered with independent galleries and there is even a popular independent cinema, Kino, set within an old church building. The town has a number of excellent eateries including The Fig, The Lemongrass, and The Union alongside a thriving pub and café scene.
To the west lies Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea. Hastings has a thriving cultural, shopping and food scene, including The Crown, The Albion and The Rock A Nore Kitchen, all of which specialise in locally sourced and seasonal cuisine, while Maggie’s Fish and Chips is a local stalwart. Tempting local independents include Made in Hastings, AG Hendy & Co, and Warp and Weft. Nearby, the shallow lakes and reed beds of Pett Pools attract an enormous variety of breeding and over-wintering wildfowl and waterbirds. The Saxon Shore Way footpath (running from Gravesend in Kent to Hastings) is easily accessed and there are spectacular walks along the Jurassic Coast across the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Pett Level Beach is great for swimming, with a sandy cove which stretches all the way towards Winchelsea and Rye Harbour.
There is a wide choice of state and private schools in the area, including Claremont School, Battle Abbey School, Buckswood at Guestling, Eastbourne College, Vinehall at Robertsbridge and Marlborough House in Hawkhurst.
Rail connections from Rye are excellent, with branch-line train services to Brighton and Ashford offering high-speed connections to London St Pancras and the continent, via the Eurostar. There are also stations at Winchelsea and Hastings. The line from Hastings runs to London Charing Cross and Brighton in an hour and a half. The area is well served for connecting roads through East Sussex and Kent and the channel crossing at Folkestone.
Council Tax Band: G
Udimore and its surrounding area are steeped in history. The owners dated the property’s beams and found the earliest to be from around 1440. It is said that Henry VIII stayed there, as the surrounding woodland was once rife with wild boar which he liked to hunt.
The town of Rye–once an island–has always been a port. The Romans used it to export iron, and over the years it has dealt in fish, timber, wool, wine, and luxury goods. Lamb House, the home of Victorian novelist Henry James, sits at the centre of the town and is a moment from the atmospheric Mermaid Inn, a coaching house with cellars dating back to the 12th century that would have catered to sailors and merchants.
Pett Level (Cliff End) marks the end of the Royal Military Canal, a defensive structure that runs for 28 miles to Folkstone in Kent, built in 1804 to protect Romney Marsh against a possible invasion by Napoleon. Cliff End is also the western limit of the more recent 1940s sea defence wall.
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