Active Retreat - Mountain Biking & Yoga in the South Downs

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Historic Houses

7-10 May

Eight of the loveliest houses and churches to visit in East Sussex


Enjoy a three night stay at The Star and private access to a selection of historic and well-known houses, guided by Olga Polizzi and her team. East Sussex is an area of extraordinary cultural interest and we look forward to sharing it with you.

Start with a visit to Friston Place, the magnificent Jacobean private home of Olga Polizzi, for a tour of the stunning gardens followed by a glass of Rathfinny in the Great Hall. 

The following day begins with a private tour of Firle Place, the seat of the Gage family for over 500 years.  This Tudor house was remodeled in the eighteenth century and is home to a significant collection of Old Masters including portraits by Van Dyck, Reynolds and Gainsborough, as well as an impressive collection of porcelain and furniture.  Deborah Gage will explain the curated collection as we go around the house.

Alfriston Clergy House

Berwick Church

In the afternoon is a visit to Charleston, the former home of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, where they entertained the Bloomsbury set in the 1930s and 40s.  This house is decorated with beautiful murals and has a charming garden as well as a gallery and an excellent shop.

There will later be a short walk (or drive if you prefer) to St Michael and All Angels Church at Berwick, which is renowned for its striking murals painted by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.

On Thursday, the Bloomsbury theme continues with a private tour of Monk’s House and Garden in Rodmell, once home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf. 

That afternoon there is a private tour of Farleys House and Gallery, home of the surrealists Lee Miller and Roland Penrose, who lived at the house from 1949, and were visited there by key personalities of twentieth century art. 

On the final morning you will have an opportunity to explore Alfriston Clergy House, which is just across from The Star, and is the first building ever acquired by The National Trust.  This Wealden house is over 600 years old and was built as residence for the parish priest of the neighbouring St Andrew’s Church.    

Reverend Stephen Stuckes will then be on hand to answer any questions in the next door St Andrew’s Church in Alfriston, referred to as The Cathedral of The Downs due to its magnificent scale.

Friston Place

Firle Place

Tuesday 7 May
15.00–Private tour of Friston Place with Olga Polizzi (transfers to and from Friston Place are not included)
19.00–Dinner at leisure at The Star

Wednesday 8 May
From 07.30–Breakfast at leisure
09.40–Bus from The Star to Firle Place for private tour
12.00–Lunch at The Ram Inn, Firle
13.15–Bus from The Ram Inn to Charleston for house/garden tour
15.15–Bus from Charleston to The Star
16.00–Walk to Berwick Church from The Star (or guests are welcome to drive)
16.30–Talk at Berwick Church
19.00–Dinner at The Star

Thursday 9 May
From 07.30–Breakfast at leisure
10.00–Bus to Monk’s House for private tour
12.00–Depart Monk’s House
12.30–Lunch at The Eight Bells in Jevington
13.45–Bus from The Eight Bells to Farley’s Farmhouse for tour of the house and garden
16.00–Bus from Farley’s Farmhouse to The Star
19.00–Dinner at leisure at The Star

Friday 10 May
From 07.30–Breakfast at leisure
09.30–Private tour of The Clergy House in Alfriston
10.40–Talk at Alfriston Church with Reverend Stephen Stuckes
11.30–Guests depart

Monk’s House

Farleys House and Gallery

Historic Houses

7-10 May

From £2091 for entrance to the Historic Houses, three nights accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Based on two guests sharing a Classic Juliet room.


Fully booked. To join the waiting list please email