Setting off from home on a frosty Sunday afternoon with no particular route in mind, I found myself doing my regular saunter southbound on the Downs Link from Southwater. However, instead of following the usual route of the railway, I deviated off the main drag via a bridleway just past the A24 ‘foot tunnel’. The going was very muddy, but I didn’t mind as the trees and fields and cobwebs were dusted with a sparkly layer of frost. It was a proper winter wonderland. There were hopeful signs of spring, though, with clumps of snowdrops and snowberries dotted along the hedges. The bridleway brought me to Sedgwick. Part of the parish of Nuthurst, this tiny village comprises a collection of houses (and – ahem! – a new development of homes under construction at the time of writing) along Broadwater Lane and the 100-acre estate of Sedgwick Park.
The present manor house (pictured in the header), dates from the 17th century but has undergone periodic remodelling and comprises a mixture of styles. You can get a fabulous view of the house from the public footpath that tracks across the estate from North Lane. It’s a privately owned estate, so the extensive formal gardens and interlinked ponds are off limits (however, the current owners do open up the house from time to time for events – I shall definitely be keeping my eye on the Open Gardens website in the summer!). Previous owners of Sedgwick Park have included the Sauvages, the de Broases, and the Dukes of Norfolk – all as part of the fiefdoms of their respective times; as well as director of the Bank of England, Robert Henderson (1862-1931); and shipping magnate and former director of the Suez Canal, Lord Rotherwick (1947-1958).
There is a handsome shield on the gates off Broadwater Lane (shown above), bearing a dragon and ‘EH 1887’, suggesting an affiliation to Robert Henderson’s wife, Emma, who remained at the house after her husband’s death in 1895 until her own demise in 1931, aged 80.
Within the grounds lies the medieval moated site of Sedgwick Castle, a scheduled monument, which abuts Broadwater Lane adjacent to Castle Lodge. Sadly the ruins are not visible from the lane (another reason to visit when the gardens are open to the public). According to Historic England, the castle is notable for the unusual design of having two concentric moats, and therefore have it registered for conservation and maintenance.
Sedgwick Park and its environs was a lovely walk. On my way back, I was rather tickled to come across this postbox dating from Queen Victoria’s reign. I’m always on the lookout for unusual postboxes… this one, a wallbox, I particularly liked for the gold leaf on the insignia!