CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sussex Life today CLICK HERE

Susannah Constantine on life in Sussex and local producers

PUBLISHED: 10:21 13 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:57 03 November 2017

Photo by Jim Holden -

Photo by Jim Holden -

Jim Holden 07590 683036 01825 841157

Television presenter Susannah Constantine – queen of the makeover alongside her friend Trinny – is bringing her impeccable taste to a project closer to home. Alice Cooke caught up with her just before she entered the jungle for ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here

Originally published in the December 2015 issue of Sussex Life


When I meet Susannah Constantine she is curled up on a chair in her beautiful country kitchen, sipping tea and cuddling an impossibly gorgeous Italian greyhound puppy named Rocco. She is surrounded by hand-painted crockery, charming paintings of rural Sussex idylls and antique objects that range from china plates to chandeliers. It’s a far cry from the Australian jungle, where she recently resided as part of ITV’s hit show, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.

But of course, you might be thinking, she is a city girl who can afford to splash out on nothing but the best.

The best it may be, but a city girl she is not – Susannah grew up in rural Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, and what I see before me is not the carefully coiffed, bejewelled glamour puss so beloved of television shows such as What Not To Wear, which she presented with her friend Trinny Woodall. Susannah is gorgeous, even in a slouchy jumper, a pair of jeans and minimal make up, but no stylists were harmed in the making of this picture, for this is just how she is. She is a Sussex girl these days, and has been for a good eight years, so while all the London spark and glittering charisma remain, this is Susannah going back to her rural roots, slowing down and taking time to really relish the finer things in life – those being “all things thoughtful, considered and above all, local.”

When her family first moved here from London, there was no heating “and the place was a bit of a tip. We only got proper heating two years ago – it was a matter of huddling around the Aga before that, which I know plenty of us do around here.”

While she acknowledges that a lot of people are “posh but poor”, she is quick to remind us to buck up our ideas and count our blessings. “We are so incredibly lucky to have so many fantastic artisan producers at our fingertips. There seems to be this perception that if you want something really well made then you’d better travel to London to get it – that’s a load of nonsense.”

One of the things that she adores about Sussex is that “you become friends with the people that you deal with, and you really appreciate the people who take the time to do things properly.” But it hasn’t all been plain sailing: “There are definitely people I’ve dealt with here who think that they’re better than they are – what I want to do is to champion the unsung heroes who really deserve our time and business.

“I think being in Sussex has made me more discerning – there’s a tremendous sense of community here, and I love being a part of that, but in the same breath I feel that there’s so much more that could be made of all of the wonderful things here – we have so much that people just don’t know about. We’re not very good at blowing our own trumpets, and I think we need to be a little less British about it, stand up proudly and show everyone just exactly who we are. I have met some truly amazing people who are old-school, salt-of-the-earth Sussex, and who make or do the most fantastic things, but they have no concept of how to market themselves, to make a song and dance about it, to get people talking. Being modest and self-effacing is all well and good, but it won’t get you very far – that’s where I come in. I will never put anyone down, ever, but if I come across someone who is latent in their enthusiasm, I will happily tear strips off them – Sussex deserves more than that.”

Everything the light touches in her home on the outskirts of Handcross is either Sussex-made or passed down through her family and treasured, whether it be worth pounds or pittance. “The value is not in what something costs, but in what it means to me – its history, who made it, who’s owned it before,” she says. “I am totally infatuated with the idea of having things that you can adore with all your heart, before handing them on to your loved ones, who in turn can love them with all of theirs.”

By way of explanation she references a “baby pillow” that she takes with her on all her travels. “It was given to me as a child, and although it didn’t cost anyone a huge amount of money, it is beautifully made and has lasted me my whole life – it really means something to me.”

This idea of creating heirloom pieces is a message that she is keen to convey, especially at this time of year. “Instead of buying 50 things that cost you nothing and will be appreciated for all of about two minutes before the novelty wears off and they are discarded, why not buy one really precious thing that will cost you the same amount of money, but that will last and be loved for years to come?”

It’s a difficult stance to argue with, but I am quick to admit that I am as guilty as the next person of falling into the trap of buying clothes and furniture that are so cheap that they’re nigh-on disposable. “Oh don’t get me wrong,” she says. “I’m the same and it’s so easy to do, especially at Christmas. We all want to give our children bulging stockings full of goodies, but buying fewer things that they’ll really love, rather than just delight over for as long as it takes them to unwrap them, that’s what I am aiming to do this year.”


Peter James: why I love Munich, revisiting the Giggling Squid and dinner in the Shard - Bestselling crime writer Peter James talks us through his gastronomic adventures and keeps us abreast of everything relating to his fictional detective, Roy Grace

Rick Englert, Richard Taylor and the home they built from scratch - Rick Englert and Richard Taylor have not only built their dream house from scratch, they’ve also surrounded it with the most beautiful gardens and parkland. Alice Cooke was hard pushed not to take up residence


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sussex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sussex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sussex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Homes & Gardens

Tue, 11:24

Ideally situated for commuting to London and Brighton, this West Sussex town offers the perfect blend of rural and urban living

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

A rich local history, thriving annual festivals and a bounty of amenities make this East Sussex town hard to top

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more
Monday, September 24, 2018

This newly renovated Georgian townhouse in Worthing offers uninterrupted views over the sea, combined with designs for the modern family

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A leading property agent is going back to his roots after a 32-year career by joining one of the UK’s foremost property search companies covering Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex East Sussex and Kent.

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Bearing links to some of the county’s famous smugglers, Alfriston is a small village with a lot of history – including an impressive ‘cathedral’

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more
Thursday, August 23, 2018

As well as being practical, tiles can add class, colour and style to your home. With such spectacular choice, you might feel like a kid in a sweet shop, so many delicious options. Luxury bathroom, kitchen and tile experts Sussex Plumbing Supplies (SPS) have selected the top tile styles and tips to help you make the right choice for your space.

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

Head to these South Downs villages for a chance to experience modern amenities and stunning, picturesque views

Read more
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fantastic rail links, picturesque views and community spirit make this small Sussex village an ideal place to call home

Read more
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Residential property company heylo recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging its commitment to fair treatment and support to the Armed Forces community, including regulars, reserves, veterans and their families. The signing took place in a ceremony held at Wellington Barracks

Read more
Monday, June 25, 2018

Community lies at the very heart of this Sussex parish, which was once home to Rudyard Kipling

Read more
Friday, June 1, 2018

The bathroom is one of the most heavily used rooms in the house yet in most cases it is one of the smallest. The growing popularity of en suites, plus the need for additional downstairs WCs, mean that space-saving solutions are increasingly in demand

Read more
Monday, May 21, 2018

Despite its rural location, the South Downs market town of Midhurst is alive with community spirit

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search