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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Welcomed at The Grange

Sunday, August 22nd.

At 4.35 we hired a car and went to take tea at the Lewises, The Grange, Rottingdean.

The Grange, Rottingdean
The Grange is a Georgian house, originally built as a vicarage. It was later extended by the Rev Dr Thomas Redman Hooker, much loved vicar from 1792 - 1838. It is possible that an underground tunnel ran from here to the beach for Dr Hooker's sideline as a smugglers' "lookout" man! More respectably, he established a well-known school for boys that attracted the sons of many wealthy and distinguished families. His effigy and plaque are on the wall in nearby St Margaret's Church. A nationally more famous resident was Sir William Nicholson RA who produced a number of downland and coastal oil paintings of this area where he lived between 1909 - 1914. He called himself "the painter of the Downs".

About 10 or 12 people there. Sir George Lewis had ridden two hours on the Downs, had bathed, and had played tennis.

Typical South Downs scenery

Both Sir G.and Lady Lewis curiously and naively house-proud and garden-proud.
The garden is fine, with various lawns and good trees and fruit. Lewis explained how he had bought a hill on the Downs in order to preserve a view unspoilt. He has 71 acres of his own.

                                                  The Grange Garden

It was whilst the Grange was owned by the artist William Nicholson and the lawyer Sir George Lewis at the beginning of the 2oth century, that the garden was transformed from simple rolling lawns and trees to its present distinct character. The designer was Sir Edwin Lutyens who, with the help of Gertrude Jekyll created the four gardens: the formal front garden, the north walkway, the flagged courtyard and the walled wide-bedded top garden. In 2006 the Rottingdean Preservation Society embarked on restoring the Lutyens' garden to its former glory. a volunteer gardening group was formed and set about the arduous task of clearing the ivy from the trees and walls and the shrubs and brambles from the courtyard, finally revealing Lutyens' distinctive slate slabs, niches and alcoves, miraculously undamaged.



Sir G. is very agreeable as an oriental is agreeable. Lady Lewis also was most agreeable: she kissed Dorothy like anything at parting, yet had scarcely known her before. They were extremely hospitable. I had quite a chat with Sir G. and Lady, in the former's little room where he works - for he always works. They were most insistent on me arranging for German translation of my books.

Sir George Lewis died in mysterious circumstances in Switzerland on August 8th 1927 - accident or suicide?


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