BY CHARLES EVANS
Folkington Manor was built in 1843 by the architect W.J Donthorne, near the site of a manor that was recorded in the Domesday Book. The previous manor was home to Viscount Monckton in the 14th century, advisor to King Edward III. The Place, as it was formerly called, is a site of some antiquity, having been the seat of the Culpepers in James I’s reign and later of the Dobell family, from whom it was bought in about 1650 by Sir William Thomas, of West Dean with the adjoining manor of Wootton.
The old house was largely demolished circa 1820. In 1838, Folkington together with the manor at nearby Wootton were bought by Thomas Sheppard, M.P for Frome, who thereupon built the present manor at a new site slightly to the north. Folkington Place, situated on the original manorial site, retains some architectural elements of the pre-1820 manor. After the death of Thomas Sheppard’s son in 1875 both properties were sold to Mr J.E.A Gwynne and in 1915 passed to the latter’s son, Col. Rupert Gwynne, M.P for Eastbourne 1910-24. Rupert Gwynne was father of Elizabeth David, the pre-eminent British cookery writer of the mid-20th century, and brother of Violet Gordon Woodhouse, the influential and highly acclaimed musician. On his death, the house passed into the hands of his younger brother Roland Gwynne, Mayor of Eastbourne 1928-31. As noted in a Country Life editorial in 1958, Folkington has had a close connection with art for some time – a tradition which continues to this day with the Manor containing a number of galleries suitable for displaying large amounts of fine art. Indeed, the well-known Long Man of Wilmington stands in the distance on Windover Hill. The Stacy-Marks family bought the property in the late 1960s and the Flint Rooms were the core of the well-respected art business that has flourished for many years. In Autumn 2010 the Manor was purchased by Dr. Henry (Harry) Otto Brünjes and Mrs Jacqueline Brünjes and has recently undergone a complete restoration.
Folkington Manor stands in a secluded position at the foot of the South Downs in 85 acres of parkland. The main grounds lie principally to the north and east of the house, with sweeping lawns surrounding an ornamental pond with many spring bulbs, specimen trees including cedar, yew, horse chestnut and lime leading out to a large informal area of parkland fringed with semi-mature trees and flanked on the southern side by the gravelled drive. To the south of the drive are 3 large railed paddocks with parkland trees including pine and chestnut, as well as a grass gallop that extends for approximately 1.5 miles. To the south of the house are yew hedges, shrub borders and steps leading up to a further area of mature wooded garden with two greenhouses and a sunken dell. There are 3 more paddocks and further woodland to the west.
A fine stone paved terrace runs along the east facade of Folkington Manor, overlooking a neatly clipped knot garden with flint paths surrounded by trimmed yew hedges, garden ornaments and a bank of spring bulbs.
The Folkington Manor website is available here.