The manor house of Firle Place was completed in 1543 by Sir John Gage, an important figure during the reign of King Henry VIII. One of Sir John’s descendants, Henry Nicholas, the 8th Viscount, still lives there with his family today.
Most recently the primary filming location for the 2020 film Emma, directed by Autumn de Wilde, the Firle Estate sits in the heart of the South Downs National Park, where details of the original 16th-century building still remain. There is a chamfered Elizabethan doorway in what is now the kitchen, and an extant Tudor gable, visible from the beautiful south lawn. A series of 16th-century tunnel-like drains also run beneath the house to serve the household.
Within its walls, the house holds an impressive collection of Old Masters and Sèvres porcelain works, two Beauvais Grotesque tapestries from the late 17th century, as well as twenty-two painted Maiolica tiles, dating back to Antwerp in 1546.
Firle Place has played an important role in its community at various points in history. During the Second World War, the rooms were used as classrooms and dormitories for girls from the Southover Manor School in Lewes. A group of Canadian soldiers also stayed there, and emptied the cellar of its prized wine collection, much to the 6th Viscount’s dismay.
The estate stretches to surrounding villages, and so, as well as magnificent walks, bike rides, simulated game shooting and country pursuits, there are many places to stay, eat, and drink within Firle.
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