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Photographer: Stuart Martin

Plumpton Place

Gazetteer No. G0426

Date 1927

Address Plumpton Lewes, East Sussex BN7 3AF England


In the late 1920s Edward Hudson bought another property, Plumpton Place, a derelict manor-house built on an island. From 1927-28 Lutyens carried out a series of alterations to make it – in Ian Nairn’s words – ‘an enchanted place’. One enters through a Venetian archway set in a pair of weatherboarded lodge cottages, and crosses the moat by means of a rustic bridge, with footways and parapets of oak corbelled out from brickwork. Lutyens added a music room to the North East corner of the house, with large square multi-transomed bay windows to North and South overlooking the moat and lake, very similar to Hudson’s bay at Deanery Garden. Lutyens also renovated the Mill House set at the end of a sequence of three lakes, and it was here that Hudson stayed and not in the main house. The best things at Plumpton are the garden features: the banks and intricate steps down to the lake, the waterfalls patterned by the shaped tiles over which they run, and the geometrical stepping stones. (Amery et al, Cat no.272) Plumpton Place. An enchanted place due to Lutyens and to the mature landscape setting in the lee of the South Downs. Edward Hudson, the owner of Country Life, bought the estate in 1927 and immediately brought in Lutyens, who had done Deanery Garden, Sonning, and then Lindisfarne Castle for him. First he converted the nearby mill house (the largest of three water mills at Plumpton) as a weekend cottage, from which the house can be viewed across the chain of lakes. Lutyens consulted Gertrude Jekyll on the garden but she never visited and Plumpton was their last collaboration. None of her planting survives. Work on the landscape came first, whilst the restoration and enlargement of the house was carried out from 1933–5. Hudson died in 1936 having never lived in the house. Brick gatepiers, elegant in their height, mark the entrance from the lane and frame a view of Lutyens’s disarmingly unassuming pair of L-shaped cottages of 1930, which link to form a gatehouse. They have the characteristic steep hipped roof and big chimneys of Lutyens’s domestic work. Elm weatherboarding below. The outer face has tall formal sash windows rising through the eaves into hipped-roof dormers and a central pedimented doorway with oak gate. One then passes through an open loggia and an archway treated like a Venetian window to the inner garden court with dormer windows only (for privacy); altogether a subtle blend of the vernacular and ‘polite’. Only at this point does the house become visible. A moat is crossed by Lutyens’s bridge, with a brick arched substructure and cantilevered oak deck above, into the grassed entrance court with formal planting. (Antram, 2013, pp.587-8)


Amery, C., Richardson, M. and Stamp, G., (1981) Lutyens, the Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944): Hayward Gallery London, 18 November 1981 – 31 January 1982. London: Arts Council of Great Britain.

Antram, N. (2013) Sussex: East with Brighton and Hove. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Also Cited In

Gradidge, R. (1982) Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: Allen & Unwin.

Aslet, C. (1982) The Last Country Houses. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Butler, A., 1950. The architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens: the Lutyens memorial series. Vol 1: Country Houses, Country Life: London and Scibners: New York.

Listing Grade

II*, II, II*

Listing Reference

1274171 1238268 1000234


Edward Hudson