May and June are the perfect months to take a short break. The weather is usually mild and fine and many of the tourist attractions and places of interest are quieter whilst the children are still in school!
Cumberland House offers a peaceful and relaxing base from which to explore a beautiful part of the UK and is centrally placed for easy access to West and East Sussex, Surrey and Kent. Central London is only thirty miles away and you can be immersed in the hustle and bustle of ‘the big smoke’ within forty minutes from the local railway station at Horley.
However, if you prefer a “get-away-from-it-all” break then Cumberland House is definitely the place to be! There is plenty to do in the local vicinity and a number of impressive historical properties to see and explore.
One such place is the National Trust property, Standen House and Garden, which is just twelve miles from Cumberland House and one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture and its associated workmanship, in the country.
In the spring of 1891 the land was purchased by a prosperous London-based solicitor James Beale who had also previously lived in Birmingham and decided that, at the age of fifty, the time was right to relocate again to a “country retreat” where he could spend weekends with his wife Margaret and their seven children.
The rolling hills of the Sussex Weald were the perfect location for the development of what is now considered “a masterpiece of Victorian design”.
Standen House was designed by the architect Philip Webb and commenced in late 1891; it followed the principals of the Arts and Crafts movement with a nostalgic nod to earlier styles of architecture and crafts, particular the medieval, and with an emphasis upon the Gothic.
The movement rejected industrialisation and therefore focussed on a revival of craftsmanship, honesty in construction and appropriate use of local materials. However, despite looking to the past for aesthetic ideals the house itself (finished in 1894) was modern insofar as it boasted electricity and central heating!
The décor of the rooms inside the house is testament to William Morris – the original founder of the Arts and Crafts movement – and his interior designs for, in particular, wall-papers and furnishing fabrics.
There is plenty to see outdoors too; William Morris believed that “a house should be clothed by its garden” and therefore both should be viewed together as one design.
The wider Standen estate consists of 100 acres and include Rockinghill and Hollybush woods, with the former a particular favourite for its vast displays of bluebells in the spring. There is also Selsfield Common – a heathland habitat in the High Weald AONB – which was gifted to the National Trust in 1912 and is managed by Standen. Details of a number of self-guided walks are available and copies can be bought (for less than a pound) from the Visitor Centre.
In comparison the Standen House gardens are ‘only’ twelve acres – but encompass a kitchen garden and rosary amongst a range of terraces and extensive planted beds and trees. There are also various lawns including a croquet lawn, and courtyards.
Why not take advantage of our Spring break and book into Cumberland House and pay a visit to Standen. If you visit before the middle of May you can visit the Tulip Festival; it will be their largest display yet and the garden will be ablaze with 8,000 bright blooming tulips!