Gravetye Manor: Elizabethan beauty for the 21st century
PUBLISHED: 01:18 31 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:07 20 February 2013
Gravetye Manor, built in 1598, is renowned throughout the world, not only as a rare Elizabethan treasure and country house hotel, but also for its beautiful and historic gardens.
The Manor was rescued from decay in 1890 by William Robinson, who admired its gothic charm and saw in the stunning location the possibilities for creating a unique garden incorporating all that was best in the local landscape. In this respect he was a man ahead of his time now, of course, every garden worth its salt includes native species in the herbaceous border and a wildflower meadow!
The hotelier Peter Herbert arrived at Gravetye in 1958. Captivated by Robinsons house and its setting he had the revolutionary idea of injecting his own exceptional hotel keeping and restaurant standards into this rural spot. For nearly 50 years, until his retirement in 2004, Peter Herbert established Gravetye Manor as one of the leading establishments in its class, recognised throughout the world for offering the best kind of Country House Hotel Hospitality.
Now 2011 sees the dawn of a new era at Gravetye Manor. The hotel came under the ownership of fund manager Jeremy Hosking in February 2010. A long standing patron of the hotel, he first visited in 1973, he said he was most attracted by its position overlooking its own valley.
Now he has set about reversing the gradual decline the property had suffered over recent years. The hotel has now undergone a major refurbishment. Encompassing brickwork, chimney and roof repairs the refurbishment was critical to ensuring this beautiful historic house stayed standing for generations to come. The hotels facilities internally have also been updated including much of the infrastructure with new bathrooms and the addition of 21st century technology.
January saw the hotel closing its doors completely for 3 months. During this time the whole manor has been re-wired and a new heating system installed.
Public areas and bedrooms received a substantial makeover, some more than others, but all in keeping with Gravetyes unique character.
Mr Hoskings intention has always been to remain faithful to William Robinsons own vision of Gravetye and to Peter Herberts original Country House Hotel and Restaurant so changes were very sympathetically done. In doing so, he has sought to retain the authentic English country house feel so often lacking in refurbishments today.
The antique furniture has been kept along with the warmth of real fires. The emphasis is on bringing the garden into the house with floral fabrics that will look bright and cheerful on the dullest winters day.
The restaurant will combine traditional and contemporary style to reflect the new menus, while seasonal fruit and vegetables grown for the kitchen will continue to be produced in the restored walled garden.
The gardens are also receiving some much needed attention. Projects such as the restoration of William Robinsons pergola in the flower garden are already underway. The focus will be not only on conserving and re-creating Robinsons work but also on progressing the garden in homage to his experimental style of gardening.
Ultimately it is Jeremy Hoskings wish to continue the philosophy of great country house hospitality and to maintain and nurture this historically important garden. His aim is to create something that guests wish to visit again.
As he says, Gravetye gets under your skin and becomes part of your life, as our guests prove time and again by coming back to us.
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Vowels Lane, West Hoathly,
Sussex, RH19 4LJ