Part of Southover Grange (aka Southover Priory), the estate dates back to 1572 and was a private residence until well into the early 1900s before opening to the public almost exactly sixty-seven years ago on May 16, 1945. Now, the lucky folks of the Lewes District Council call this their office, where they get to look out over trees that are so old, they’re jerry-rigged with structural supports.
Parts of the gardens have evolved or have been added on over time, and it is an ideal place to whittle away the morning with a coffee and a stroll. Signs encourage picnics and meditation, but no dogs allowed (typically this is something I’d scoff at, but these immaculate gardens are in a town surrounded by the very-dog friendly Downs offering endless hiking options, so it’s totally fair). Next time I go, I’ll bring a blanket to stay a while longer to savor the sights and smells, but the pooch will have to stay home.