Opening: Preston Manor, Brighton, from April 1 2011
Wind through a glorious garden thickly patterned with flowers in bloom on the outskirts of Brighton and you’ll find Preston Manor, a place where the smells of Victorian high life (tobacco in the smoking room, baking in a supremely kitsch kitchen, lavender in a morning room once owned by the lady of the house) waft through the historic corridors.
The Manor was home to the Stanford family for more than 130 years, and Ellen Stanford and her husband, Charles Thomas-Stanford, renovated and modernised the house after setting up roost there in 1905, adding the west wing to fit their social aspirations and regularly hosting glitzy social events.
One summer party 100 years ago attracted 1,000 guests, causing the Brighton Herald to salute the Manor’s “old-world English beauty” and label it “a precious national asset.”
Charles was elected Mayor of Brighton in 1910 and was a firm supporter of wounded Indian soldiers in the Royal Pavilion when he wasn’t busying himself dealing with local coal shortages.
Together with Ellen, he was given the Honorary Freedom of the city in 1925, and they left the Manor to the Brighton Corporation after their deaths in 1932.
There are more than 20 lavish rooms to wander here, following in the footsteps of 12 indoor servants and five outdoor ones employed by those illustrious previous owners.
Original wallpaper chosen by Ellen, haunted guest bedrooms and the only surviving example of a genuine old-fashioned walled garden in Brighton are among the highlights in one of the most beautiful heritage settings you’ll see all summer.
- Open 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, 2pm-5pm Sunday until September 30 2011.
- Behind the Scenes tours take place on June 25 and August 20 (11am-12.30pm) and July 15 and September 22 (3.30pm-5pm). Ghost Tours take place on June 3, July 1, August 6 and September 3, 7.30pm-8.30pm. Heritage Open Days guided garden tours take place September 10, 10am-11am and 2pm-3pm. Admission free to garden tour, £10.50 to Behind the Scenes and Ghost Tour. Call 03000 290902 for more details and to book.