It was 28 years ago when I first visited Michelham Priory in Upper Dicker East Sussex, it is a stunningly beautiful and peaceful place. When I visited it a few days ago if anything, I would say it has got even better with age.
The name Michelham means "a large piece of land in a river bend". The river is the Cuckmere which rises in the High Weald and cuts through the Downs near Alfriston to reach the sea between Eastbourne and Seaford.
I can't stress how lovely this place really is, it is a peaceful priory and it is not difficult to imagine the Canons going about their daily chores, tending to herb beds and catching fish from the river.
In later years some evacuees were sent here from London and were reported to have the most fantastic time. One of the boy's called Cyril is still alive today, he comes back to Michelham Priory on special days to tell people of his fond memories and days spent here.
The Priory also contains some lovely sculptures.
Also, as you would expect from a priory the gardens are very tranquil, full of some lovely flowers and plants. There are a few river walks where wild life abounds. We managed to disturb a snake that was basking in the sun (yes it was hot when we visited), it frightened the life out of me as it slithered away making one hell of a noise.
My memories of living in rural Sussex are of bluebells, white wood anemones and the Cuckoo every spring, all of these were to be found at Michelam Priory which made my day. I had forgotten just how much I miss living in the countryside and being witness to the changing seasons.
For me a beautiful rural place gives me inspiration, colours and textures are around every corner, life is more relaxed, and senses are heightened.
I also have a thing about old walls, they have such a beautiful patina and are so much more interesting than bland new ones. Old fashioned roses look beautiful growing up against them, my favourites are some of the David Austin varieties. Old walled gardens can be particularly stunning and provide a great back drop for all sorts of plants and structures.
For those of you contemplating a wedding there is the most magical barn, just right in size and waiting to be filled with the beautiful and unusual. If you could be blessed with a warm sunny day and evening it would be a memorable day.
Now I sound like a wedding promotion booklet, I'm not even that keen on weddings! I think I am just imagining photographing it and thinking of all the fantastic ways you could decorate such a lovely building.
In my next blog I will show you the Watermill at Michelham Priory, so very very beautiful.