A wonderful Victorian family house which has a rich history, set in attractive gardens surrounded by Ashdown Forest.
Hall, Drawing room, Library, Dining room, Family room, Kitchen/breakfast room, Conservatory, Boiler room, Utility room, Flower room, Cloakroom, Gym, 2 Offices
Principal bedroom with en suite bathroom and dressing room/study, 2 Guest bedrooms with en suite bathrooms
5 Further bedrooms, 2 Further bathrooms
Flat with 3 bedrooms, bathroom, sitting room, kitchen and box room
Integrated garaging, Garden with terrace and lawns, Tennis court and swimming pond
Outbuildings including pool house, oil store, wood store and greenhouse
About 2¼ acres
The house was built at the end of the 19th century for Lord Robert Cecil, son of the Marquis of Salisbury and future Viscount Cecil of Chelwood. Lord Cecil enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a politician and statesman, co-founding the League of Nations and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937. It remained his country retreat for about fifty years, and in the 1920s was frequently host to members of the Bloomsbury Circle, as referenced in the diaries of Virginia Woolf.
The house subsequently became the home of the Conservative peer Lord Ashdown whose friend Harold Macmillan was a close neighbour at Birch Grove House; many political discussions of the governing Tory party are believed to have been held at Gale during this time.
A magnificent Victorian mansion house of graceful proportions offers 8,488 sq ft of accommodation (including the integrated garage) arranged over three floors, with the benefit of being unlisted. It is completely surrounded by Ashdown Forest.
Internally, the house has an abundance of original detail, with many period fittings. The principal reception rooms have high ceilings and fine wood floors. The drawing room and the library have working fireplaces and graceful bow windows offering attractive views to the formal gardens and access to the terrace. An impressive Hungarian tile stove is the focal point of the superb conservatory, which has doors to the drawing room and bi-fold doors to the family room; these open up to provide a space which is suitable for entertaining on a grand scale.
The large kitchen/breakfast room, which has underfloor heating and a vaulted ceiling, is equipped with an excellent range of oak wall hung and under-counter units and fittings including a granite topped central island, a four oven Aga, a stainless steel preparation area with fitted double sinks and a pantry with original cold shelves. There is a door to the swimming pool area, creating a perfect space for more informal entertaining. Adjoining the kitchen is a suite of rooms with their own external access, originally built as staff accommodation and currently comprising: bathroom, utility room, gym, and 2 domestic offices.
The principal bedroom has a dressing room/study and en suite bathroom. There are seven further bedrooms on the first floor and four bathrooms, two of which are en suite.
The second floor provides secondary accommodation comprising kitchenette, sitting room, three bedrooms and a bathroom. There is access to ample storage provided by the attic box room.
Gardens and Grounds
The house is approached via a drive across Ashdown Forest, leading to an electrical gate opening to a carriage drive with central island and a parking area.
The gardens are mainly to the south and west of the house and are fully enclosed and screened by tall hedges. Beautifully designed with distinct sections, the gardens were established by Lady Chelwood and further landscaped under Lady Ashdown, and the commissions of both these keen gardeners are still in evidence today.
A York stone terrace, leads onto a formal lawn flanked by rose beds, and steps down to a croquet lawn; bordering this lawn to the south east is a camellia walk which opens to the orchard. A paths runs through the gardens leading to a more informal area of lawn, and on to the all-weather tennis court and timber framed tennis pavilion. Beyond the tennis court is the fenced kitchen garden with fruit cage, fenced vegetable beds, greenhouse and timber tool store.
Steps lead up to the swimming pool, which is surrounded by a paved terrace. There is a timber pool house, and the area is securely enclosed and bordered to one side by established shrubs.
Situated in an enviable enclosed position on the outskirts of the village of Chelwood Gate, on Ashdown Forest and in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Ashdown Forest has national protection due to its wildlife, and extends to over 6500 acres offering miles of outstanding walks and bridle trails. The Ashdown Forest Cricket pitch is directly behind the property.
Riding on Ashdown Forest (permits required), racing at Plumpton, Lingfield Park, Fontwell and Goodwood, showjumping at Hickstead and Ardingly, and golf courses at Royal Ashdown Forest and East Sussex National.
Mainline rail services at Haywards Heath 7 miles (London Bridge/Victoria from 42 minutes) and East Grinstead 6.6 miles (London Bridge/Victoria from 55 minutes) www.southernrailway.co.uk The M25 orbital motorway can be accessed via both the A22/J6 and the A23/J7, linking to the national motorway network. Gatwick airport 17 miles, Brighton 22 miles, central London 36 miles.
Local Amenities and Schools
Forest Row provides for day to day needs, with comprehensive shopping facilities at East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Tunbridge Wells and Brighton. There is a good selection of highly regarded schools in the area, including Cumnor House, Brambletye, Ashdown House, Great Walstead, Worth, Brighton College and Ardingly College.
Local Authorities and Services
Oil fired central heating; mains electricity and water; Shared private drainage.
Wealden District Council, 01892 653311. East Sussex County Council: 03456080190
Council tax band H.
From East Grinstead head south on the A22. At Wych Cross turn right onto the A275 (signposted Lewes). The private drive to the house is on the right after about 0.8 of a mile, marked by low level white stones.