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  • Discover the lives and works of artists and writers who made the beautiful Sussex countryside their home in the early 20th century, from a base at The Star, a characterful and refined Polizzi Collection property in the delightful village of Alfriston

  • Step into houses once belonging to members of the Bloomsbury Group, including Monk’s House, home to Virginia Woolf, and Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s Charleston

  • View pieces from one of the largest collections of work by Eric Ravilious at the Towner Eastbourne, and gain unique insights into the life of photographer Lee Miller at Farleys House & Gallery with a special private talk

"Great tour, great visits, very interesting and varied programme"

“A very well organised, carefully paced trip, backed with informative lectures”

– ACE customers on a previous Sussex tour led by Suzanne Fagence Cooper

A century ago, the county of Sussex became a hub for artists and writers who came to escape the urban, be inspired and build new lives. Our tour takes us to many of the houses and gardens in which their ideas and lifestyles were formed, homes that both embrace the richness of the past and showcase modern ideals sought by English artists and writers at the time.


From the 1890s to the 1940s, British design was driven by the tension between tradition and modernity. Houses and interiors at the turn of the century continued to explore the delightful possibilities of the Arts & Crafts movement: Philip Webb’s plans for Standen (1891-4) incorporated the brightest and best of Morris & Co interior design.

To further set the scene, we will pay a visit to Gravetye Manor, to enjoy an exclusive guided tour of the famous Arts & Crafts gardens created by visionary gardener William Robinson in the late 19th century, followed by a lunch in the manor’s Michelin-starred restaurant.


At the heart of our tour is an exploration of the life and work of the Bloomsbury Group: Virginia Woolf, Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and their friends desired to create a modern movement in Britain to rival the new art of Paris and Berlin. The transformation of the old Sussex farmhouse of Charleston, through bold colour and abstract pattern-making, bears witness to their ingenuity and creativity.


Farleys House was the home of Surrealist photographer, Vogue model and Second World War correspondent Lee Miller, recently brought to life in the much-anticipated film Lee starring Kate Winslet. The house played host to many leading figures of 20th century modern art, including Picasso. Here, we will discover the remarkable stories of its inhabitants as well as the characterful interiors. In addition, we hope to enjoy a private talk from a member of the family, to gain further, uniquely personal, insights into the house and the lives led there.


Artists like Eric Ravilious were walking the Downs in the 1920s and 30s, wrestling with the desire to paint in a style that was sensitive to the deep history of the landscape, while responding to the upheavals in art and design since the First World War. A visit to the Towner Eastbourne will offer an opportunity to absorb highlights from the gallery’s extensive collection of works by Ravilious, having taken in some of the scenes that inspired him en route.


Our Accommodation

We will stay throughout at The Star in Alfriston, a tastefully designed character property occupying a 15th century inn with later additions, now part of the prestigious Polizzi Collection. Exquisite interiors curated by renowned hotelier and interior designer Olga Polizzi feature a mix of antiques, original features, contemporary design and pieces by local artists.

Set in the charming village of Alfriston at the foot of the East Sussex Downs, this luxurious hotel is ideally located for our local visits, while its aesthetic chimes with the themes of the tour, providing a fitting base for our explorations: two still lifes by Vanessa Bell and a portrait by Duncan Grant can be seen on the walls. The hotel also contains its own library of books and curiosities, curated by a local award-winning bookshop, Much Ado Books, for guests to enjoy after a day’s visits.


This tour will be led by Suzanne Fagence Cooper, MA, PhD, an Arts Society accredited lecturer, historian and curator who specialises in 19th and 20th century art. Currently Research Curator at York Art Gallery, Suzanne was previously a curator and Research Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, during which time she collaborated with many of Britain’s regional museum collections. She curated the 2019 exhibition Turner, Ruskin & the Storm Cloud at York Art Gallery, and is the author of To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters (2019) and How We Might Live: At Home with Jane and William Morris (2022). She looks forward to introducing another ACE group to the houses, gardens and museums associated with Sussex modernism.

Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, three breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £395.

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