Alfriston Wealden hall house, East Sussex, England

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Responsible tourism

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Most of the original features were saved during the renovation; the house is made from local oak timbers, filled with interwoven strips of chestnut or oak covered with daub and wattle before being limewashed. The building materials are all believed to be local down to the chalk and sour milk hall floor.

As a house and office our environmental impact is small. There is no heating in the house and there are low energy use light bulbs across the entire property. We recycle where possible and adhere to the National Trust green policy.

We have a huge array of birdlife in the garden:

Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Black Cap, Magpie, Sparrow, Swallow, Moorhen, Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Garden Warbler, Green woodpecker, Robin, Mallard, Tree creeper, Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail and a Blackbird that likes to stalk our fresh worms dug up by our resident gardener.

Our garden provides ample habitant and food for the birds, we also put out food for them as well as nesting boxes. The garden is a typical cottage garden, our conservation plan for it means that no plants varieties are newer than the 1920s. We’ve recently redone the herb bed to grow medieval herbs and medicinal plants.
We also have an Orchard where we are lucky to conserve local varities of apple trees including Sussex Duck Bill, Lady Henneker, the Alfriston apple and a medlar tree. During the summer, the orchard is cut as a hay meadow and it is home to spring wild flowers.

The house is also home to a family of Natterer’s bats, a species that are fairly rare in the UK.

The Impacts of this Trip

Along with our craftsman and builder, we have 40 volunteers who are largely from the Alfriston and beyond. We couldn’t cope without the local knowledge that they bring, and in fact wouldn’t be able to open without them as they are an intrinsic to the smooth running of the property. Our volunteers work in the small shop, the garden and also act as house guides for the visitors. We currently expanding our education team as we want to increase the amount of school visits we get to the house.

Our gardener holds a monthly garden tour, where he gives a detailed explanation of the species and wildlife we are home to. There also Bat evenings where we go out with a detector in search of our resident Natterer’s bats.

An exciting project, which currently is in its infancy, is the development of a heritage trail. We’re working in partnership with local people and the Rathfinny Estate to obtain a good cross-section of knowledge and ideas.

There are two main annual events that happen in Alfriston. The traditional Village Fete in August in held on the green and the Dickensian Evening in December which is full of mulled wine, hot roast pork, Morris Dancers, a Pipe Band and of course an appearance by Father Christmas. Being located as we are in the centre of the village, we open with free entry which usually brings over a 1000 visitors, a little more than the daily 150 we usually expect!


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