Located in a small hamlet to the north of Eastbourne, Folkington Manor is a beautiful grade II* listed English country home nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Built in the East Sussex countryside in the 1840s, the manor has a romantic history and long association with the arts, music and dance, which continues to this day as a performance and events venue for the area.
The architect W.J Donthorne was commissioned to build Folkington Manor in 1843, near the site of an original manor building that was recorded in the Domesday Book. The former property was once home to Viscount Monckton during the 14th century, then advisor to King Edward III. The Place, as it was once named, is a site of some historical interest, having been the family home of the Culpepers during James I’s reign. The old house was virtually demolished around 1820. Click here to explore this site.
The extensive building and its surrounding gardens have been extensively reworked since it was built, adapted and updated for each consecutive owner.
In a Country Life editorial from 1958 Folkington was directly linked to the world of art, and this close connection to the creative arts has now continued for some time. It is an association that continues to this day with the Manor containing a number of galleries suitable for displaying large amounts of fine art. The Long Man of Wilmington stands in the distance on Windover Hill and is a large carving into the side of the hill that is thought to date from the 16th century.
The Stacy-Marks family of fine art dealers continued the association by buying the property in the late 1960s and their Flint Rooms were at the centre of their well-respected art business that flourished for many years.
In 2010, famed choreographer Jacquie and prominent doctor Harry Brünjes purchased the estate and then spent three years on a multimillion restoration of both the manor house and the grounds. The work included extensive works on 85 acres of imperious lawns, landscaped gardens, lakes and woods. The house was first opened to the public in 2014, and the couple has a number of other historic properties including Ovingdean Grange, just east of Brighton.
Folkington Manor stands in a secluded position at the foot of the South Downs among over 80 acres of parkland. The main grounds lie principally to the north and east of the house, with sweeping lawns surrounding an ornamental pond with many spring flowers dotted throughout the trees. The wide variety of species includes cedar, yew, horse chestnut and lime.
One of the former owners of the house includes Rupert Gwynne, who was MP for Eastbourne for 14 years during the early 20th century and inherited the house from his father. After he died, the house passed to his younger brother Roland, Mayor of Eastbourne between 1928 and 1931, and one of the suspected lovers of John Bodkin Adams, the GP and fraudster who is thought to have murdered many people, though his guilt has never been proven.