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Cultural Guide to East Sussex

31 August 2016 | London Calling

The treasure of England’s South Coast, East Sussex is brimming with culture. From the Bloomsbury Set country home at Charleston to the enchanting opera at Glyndebourne, all set beside the breathtaking countryside of the Seven Sisters and the buzzing city of Brighton.

Outdoors

The stunning scenery is perhaps what East Sussex is most highly acclaimed for; the rolling South Downs and the striking River Cuckmere makes it the perfect location for photographers, hikers and pleasure seekers alike. For those feeling a little more adventurous, Buzz Cuckmere offers a range of activities from kayaking, to cycling, to guided nature walks. With an unmatched view of the Seven Sisters Country Park and Seaford Head, the Buzz Cuckmere centre, located between Eastbourne and Seaford, is well connected with buses from Brighton and Eastbourne making it ideal for a dip into nature.

Music & Literature

Lewes is home to the Charleston Farmhouse, which was one of two significant Bloomsbury Group retreats. The Bloomsbury Group was a collection of English writers, artists and philosophers (most notably Virginia Woolf), who worked and studied together, sharing a joint belief in the rejection of bourgeois Victorian conventions instead pursuing pleasure in private relationships. When they weren’t living in London, the group resided here in Sussex and today the decorative style of the house, accessible via guided tours, represents the fruition of over six decades of artistic creativity.

Founded in 1934 by John Christie and his opera singer wife, Audrey Mildmay, Glyndebourne is an opera house situated four miles from Lewes. Glyndebourne has committed itself to presenting opera of the highest quality with around 120 live performances a year so there's sure to be something that captures your attention and will please even the operatically untrained ear. Expansion in 1994 means it now seats 1,200 people so whether it’s Mozart or Handel, this fantastic concert hall truly warrants a visit.

But perhaps opera just isn't up your street? Well, why not try one of Brighton’s many music venues including the likes of Brighton Dome, Komedia and Prince Albert, where you can enjoy all genre of music from reggae to rock, as well as catching the city's best new and emerging bands.

Heritage

Battle Abbey in Hastings is a wonderful source of true British Heritage. Here you can stand on the spot where 950 years ago, England’s future was determined in the decisive Battle of 1066. You could even follow in the footsteps of King Harold and William the Conqueror and envisage the battlefield being brought to life. Take an audio guide to follow the course of the battle amid the evocative landscape upon which our county’s future was settled.

In Burwash, you’ll uncover Bateman’s, the 17th Century Jacobean home of Rudyard Kipling and his wife who died in 1939, leaving the property to the National Trust. The sandstone mansion is untouched with the interiors displaying the living space of Nobel Prize-winning author of The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories. In addition to the house, the site hosts a working water mill with authentic wooden cogwheels making Bateman’s a treasure trove for all families who wish to indulge in a passion for history and literature.
 
Family Fun

There is also a surplus of family friendly entertainment in East Sussex, namely the Sealife Centre in Brighton - a stone’s throw from Brighton's beautiful seafront, the setting couldn't be better and will give children a real sense of submarine wanderlust. Since the Sealife Centre also operates a 'Breed Rescue Protect' scheme, it is a brilliant way to inspire children to live more sustainably and be aware of the conservation techniques drawn on from decades of research by the centre's marine biologists.

It’s not only sea creatures that are at your fingertips, though; Drusillas Zoo Park just outside Alfriston (accessed via the A27) is an award-winning family day out where you can come face-to-face with hundreds of exotic animals and get a taste for adventure on the park’s rides.
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