East Sussex is one of England’s most beautiful counties and comes packed with history and tradition. It’s therefore no surprise to discover that stunning mansions and homes almost pop up everywhere. Many are open to the public and make great days out when you’re on holiday in Camber Sands. To help you choose the one(s) for you, we’ve put together a list of our favourite stately homes in East Sussex.
We think this is the best stately home in East Sussex for watery views and the great outdoors. This fine moated castle near Hailsham looks south over the Pevensey Levels to the sea. Built in the late 15th-century, it’s an excellent example of English Renaissance architecture. However, the best visitor attractions lie on its 300-acre estate where you’ll find no less than nine formal gardens and a whole lot of woodland to explore.
Highlights: the view of the castle reflected in the moat and the choice of gardens where you’ll find something blooming marvellous at any time of year.
Why we love it: Herstmonceux Castle has something for everyone – the rope maze for kids, Elizabethan Garden for plant enthusiasts and falconry for adventure lovers.
Did you know? Visiting gorgeous stately homes is just one activity in East Sussex – check out 49 more
This has to be the best stately home for literary buffs. Great architecture and literature combine to perfection at this Jacobean house in the heart of the Sussex Weald. The location and home are so stunning that it was love at first sight for Rudyard Kipling and his wife who lived there between 1902 and 1926. You’ll feel the same when you visit.
Highlights: the rooms just as Kipling left them, plus his Rolls Royce and paintings from The Jungle Book.
Why we love it: the Mowgli vibe, dogs can visit too and you can even stock up on doggie treats in the Mulberry tea-room.
Possibly the best stately home in East Sussex for gardens and ground. Nymans has one of the most famous gardens in England. You’ll find it near Haywards Heath and including Gothic ruins, botanical species from around the world and stunning views across the South Downs and Sussex Weald. Of its different outdoor spaces, those nearest the house are perhaps the most spectacular, but even the woodlands blossom pretty in the spring and summer.
Highlights: the spring flowers, particularly the bluebells in the woods and magnolia collection from Chile, and a visit to the Messel family home, partly in ruins.
Why we love it: children and dogs are very welcome and the spring and summer blooms are not to be missed!
Did you know? East Sussex comes jam-packed with great days out for kids
Leonardslee Lake and Gardens
Have you ever sought the best stately home for woodlands? Well, these historic gardens with 1850s mansion reopened in 2019 to reclaim their place as England’s finest woodlands. The 240 acres are Grade I listed and include stunning displays of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias as well as several water features such as Leonardslee’s iconic lake.
Highlights: the sculpture park showcasing creations by Anton Smit, the Victorian Rock Garden with their unique Chusan palms and England’s first Pinotage vineyard.
Why we love it: the floral displays are second to none and Leonardslee also delivers on the fauna front with wallabies and deer.
Did you know? Our Camber Sands holiday cottages offer you the best of East Sussex – stunning beaches outside your front door and a world of stately homes just a short drive away.
On the hunt for the best stately home for paintings? This fine property in Firle near Lewes is famous as the country pied à terre for the Bloomsberry Group. Two members, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, decorated the house from top to bottom, and today you can admire their murals, textiles, ceramics and furniture. You can also visit the walled garden, known as an ‘artist’s garden’ and filled with sculptures.
Highlights at this stately home in East Sussex: the interior creativity, contemporary art works on display and the annual festivals.
Why we love it: the exuberant creations, inside and out, are nothing short of inspirational and we never miss the Charleston Festival in May.
If you’re curious about how the other half once lived and fancy a sneak behind the scenes at servant life, this is probably the best stately home for upstairs downstairs insight. Preston Manor dates back to Elizabethan times, but this mansion near Brighton enjoyed its heyday during the Edwardian era. Visitors get unique insight into the world of ‘them’ and ‘us’ in the formal upstairs rooms and the servants’ quarters downstairs – think Series One of Downton Abbey.
Highlights to see: the mahogany revolving bookcase in the Entrance Hall, the Boot Hall (yes, just like the one at Downton Abbey) and the walled gardens.
Why we love this stately home in East Sussex: it’s a real view into Edwardian society and it’s supposedly the most haunted house in the county!
Plan your tour of stately homes in East Sussex
We’re sure these six gems will have captured your imagination and you’ll now have one or two (or all six) on your East Sussex must-visit list. The next step is to visit them! Book your stay at one of our holiday cottages now and start planning your stately home getaway now.