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Secret Garden: A Lush Walled Haven Behind a 1640s Georgian House in England

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Secret Garden: A Lush Walled Haven Behind a 1640s Georgian House in England

November 3, 2021

Last week on Remodelista we featured an old-world Georgian cottage (circa 1640) in East Sussex, redone with thoughtfulness and precision by New Zealand-born, London-based designer Cassandra Ellis. “For me, when life is too much, I always retreat to art and books and words (and the Financial Times),” Cassandra told us of designing the interiors, which, with spare furnishings and moody hues, conjure quiet and stillness.

The same can be said of the walled garden tucked just behind the house, a wild, lush escape that has a Secret Garden-esque surprise of its own: a portion of the old town wall, hidden beyond a wooden Japanese teahouse.

Join us for a look.

Photography via Inigo, courtesy of Cassandra Ellis.

The \1640s house, called Well House, overlooks a narrow, steep cobblestone street (called Scare Hill by the locals) in the market town of Lewes. The exterior is clad in terracotta-colored clay-peg tiles, carefully removed during the process of updating and then rehung.
Above: The 1640s house, called Well House, overlooks a narrow, steep cobblestone street (called Scare Hill by the locals) in the market town of Lewes. The exterior is clad in terracotta-colored clay-peg tiles, carefully removed during the process of updating and then rehung.
It&#8\2\17;s believed that the oldest parts of Well House date to around \1640, built &#8\2\20;on what was then known as ‘copyhold land’, just outside the town walls,&#8\2\2\1; according to Inigo, the UK real estate site. &#8\2\20;The house is a palimpsest of architectural construction techniques: a timber frame sits upon dressed stone foundations, with stones taken from the ruins of Lewes Monastery after King Henry VIII’s \1530s dissolution of the monasteries.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: It’s believed that the oldest parts of Well House date to around 1640, built “on what was then known as ‘copyhold land’, just outside the town walls,” according to Inigo, the UK real estate site. “The house is a palimpsest of architectural construction techniques: a timber frame sits upon dressed stone foundations, with stones taken from the ruins of Lewes Monastery after King Henry VIII’s 1530s dissolution of the monasteries.”
In the back of the house, a door leads from the kitchen and dining room into the garden.
Above: In the back of the house, a door leads from the kitchen and dining room into the garden.
The garden is tiered, with various levels to make the most of space and of sunlight. Steps lead to a round stone terrace just big enough for a cafe table and chairs and, beyond that, the wooden Japanese tea house, &#8\2\20;a remnant from a previous inhabitant who was a practicing Zen master,” according to Inigo. Behind the tea house is the old wall that once encircled the town.
Above: The garden is tiered, with various levels to make the most of space and of sunlight. Steps lead to a round stone terrace just big enough for a cafe table and chairs and, beyond that, the wooden Japanese tea house, “a remnant from a previous inhabitant who was a practicing Zen master,” according to Inigo. Behind the tea house is the old wall that once encircled the town.
A glimpse of the town wall.
Above: A glimpse of the town wall.
Looking back towards the house. The garden is wild with foxgloves, fennel, and irises and, at its center, a Medlar tree.
Above: Looking back towards the house. The garden is wild with foxgloves, fennel, and irises and, at its center, a Medlar tree.
Overgrown steps lead up to the tea house.
Above: Overgrown steps lead up to the tea house.
A look inside.
Above: A look inside.
Above: The view from the upstairs window, and a detail of the clay roof tiles, also re-laid.

For a tour of the interiors, head to our feature on Remodelista: In the Stillness: A 1640s Georgian in an Affecting Palette by Cassandra Ellis.

N.B.: Well House (and its garden) are currently on the market; see the listing here, and for more on the project, head to Inigo.

And for more hidden UK gardens, see:

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