Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 11.55.05.pngBAILIFFSCOURT
Saxon and Norman Sussex
‘Where it All Began’


The Normans cut their way into Sussex – it was here, in this county, that William the Conqueror’s occupation began. Some of the privileged went no further and chose property close to the coast. Indeed, Bailiffscourt, now a lovely country house hotel, once belonged to the bailiff of the ancient Abbey of Seez in Normandy. Still standing, the original 13c chapel occupies the heart of a brilliant ‘re-presentation’ of elegant Norman architecture once crowning the bluff. With all the appearance of an ancient manor house, complete with scatterings of smaller buildings, Bailiffscourt’s best-kept secret is that until 1927 it didn’t actually exist. Using highly skilled craftsmen and timber and materials from local ruins (even a vast 15c oak door from South Warnborough Chapel) the antiquarian and architect Amyas Phillips designed the complex for Lord Moyne, then Walter Guinness of the brewing family. The results, as Pevsner has put it ‘are absolutely indistinguishable from old work…Bailiffscourt is a lovely house… can only lie back and enjoy it.’

That is exactly what we intend to do on the third of our pre-Christmas retreats. Positioning ourselves in one of the most unspoilt parts of the Sussex Coast, we will take short walks on the beach, gather after dinner round log fires, eat superbly, sleep comfortably, listen to talks and readings on ancient Sussex, swim in the indoor pool, and sally out to explore the thrilling Saxon architecture of West Sussex. For Sussex is still Saxon: the churches of Bosham, Boxgrove, Climping, and Sompting, along with the Saxon sculptures in Chichester Cathedral, give a better idea than anywhere else in the country of Anglo-Saxon England, the England of the Venerable Bede and Edward the Confessor. We also include visits to Chichester Cathedral and the Julian Trevelyan exhibition in the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester.