Local legend has it that it was here that King Alfred famously burnt his cakes, although it should be pointed out that the name of the village actually has nothing to do with the famous monarch. Indeed, some say that the beautiful Star Inn is the very site of the historic incident. Enthusiasts of architectural history will find plenty of splendid medieval buildings to view, including the Clergy House (a fine 14th century hall owned by the National Trust). Map Places to stay: Alfriston itself offers a couple of notable options, namely The Star Inn (a part-14th century inn) and Deans Place (more modern but formerly a farm).
Together with neighbouring Houghton, this small hamlet of little more than 50 residents is located on the famous River Test – a chalk stream noted for its trout fishing and natural beauty. Map
Places to stay: The Greyhound in nearby Broughton (details at TripAdvisor) is an old inn with 17th century origins, while Highfield Country Guest House in Stockbridge is also close by and highly regarded by former guests.
East Meon, Hampshire
With a population of around 1200, East Meon is certainly one of the ‘larger’ villages to be included in this section, but there can be no doubting its rural charm. A place that has grown over many centuries rather than owing its existence to a particular period, it boasts a fine church which is thought to date from the 11th century. Its equally charming neighbour, West Meon, is smaller and contains some beautiful thatched cottages. Map Places to stay:Ye Olde George Inn is a 15th century former coaching inn situated within East Meon itself. There are a number of holiday cottages available in and around the village, including Old Bell Cottage which sleeps 4.
Known by some as the “Cradle of Cricket”, Hambledon’s relatively small size belies the fact that during the mid-18th century it was home to England’s premiere cricket club. Waterlooville and Portsmouth are some five and ten miles south respectively. Map
Places to stay: Although there are no traditional inns or period hotels offering accommodation within Hambledon itself, there are several options for the heritage-enthusiast nearby. The Bucks Head in Meonstoke is a 16th century inn which lies around four miles to the north, while the Grade-II listed Old House in Wickham is a similar distance to the south west.
Filmed and photographed on innumerable occasions (including for part of Merchant Ivory’s A Room with a View), this beautiful National Trust village is full of remarkable historic buildings. Towns such as Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, and Royal Tunbridge Wells are all nearby, but Chiddingstone remains in a different period of time altogether. Map Places to stay: Little over a mile to the west of Chiddingstone, the small town of Hever offers two period accommodation options via the Hever Hotel (formerly a farm to Hever Castle itself) and the King Henry VIII Inn which dates from the 1600’s. Starborough Manor in Edenbridge is also worthy of note – while slightly further to the west, it offers luxury bed & breakfast accommodation and is highly rated by former guests (see TripAdvisor for reviews).
Somewhat more populous than many other places in this section (circa 1,500), Chilham is centred around what has been described as one of the most well-preserved Medieval squares in the entire country. There are numerous buildings from between the 13th and 15th centuries, including St. Mary’s Church. Map Places to stay: Bed & breakfast in Chilham is available via Holmlea B&B (although not specifically a period building) and The Woolpack Inn – details for both can be found via Chilham’s entry at LateRooms.com. Castle Cottage, which is situated within the walls of the castle itself, also offers B&B accommodation.
Almost mid way between Canterbury and Folkestone, this Kent Downs village of some 1,500 residents possesses some fine houses from the 15th to 17th centuries. Its oldest building, however, is the 13th century Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Map
Places to stay: The village possesses two period accommodation options, namely the curiously-named Abbot’s Fireside and The Rose & Crown. The former is said to date, in parts, from the 15th century, while the latter is part 16th century and part Georgian. More details on both can be found at TripAdvisor, or see our specific historic hotels entry for The Abbot’s Fireside.
Situated within the famous Weald of Kent, the Penshurst of today grew from a settlement between the Medway and Eden rivers. It is most renowned for Penshurst Place - ancestral home of the Sidney family - which is open to the public (seasonal). Map
Places to stay: Being the neighbouring village of Chiddingstone (above) there are a number of period properties offering accommodation to the west.
The existing village one sees today owes much of its existence to the weaving industry that dominated the community during medieval times and there are said to be in excess of 100 listed buildings situated within the parish. Map
Places to stay: Smarden’s village inn, The Chequers, is reputed to date from the 14th century and offers 4 guest rooms including a four-poster suite, while bed & breakfast is also available at Snap Mill Cottage whose roots are said to be 14th century.
The Star Inn, Alfriston
Ye Olde George Inn, East Meon
The Woolpack, Chilham
The Abbot's Fireside, Elham
The Chequers Inn, Smarden
Old Bell Cottage, East Meon
Amberley Castle, Amberley
Deans Place, Alfriston
Amberley, West Sussex
Located, fittingly, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Amberley is most famous for its working museum and the castle of the same name (now a hotel). It has a resident population of little over 500 and is sometimes referred to as “The Pearl of the South Downs”.
Places to stay: The history enthusiast will almost certainly be interested in Amberley Castle itself; a 900-year-old fortress turned hotel. See our specific page for Amberley Castle.
Lurgashall, West Sussex
Centred around a beautiful village green, Lurgashall has been described as not only one of the loveliest in Sussex, but the whole of the South East of England. The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson is, perhaps, its most celebrated former resident having lived at nearby Aldworth House and having regularly worshipped at St. Lawrence’s Church. Map
Places to stay: We are not aware of any accommodation within Lurgashall itself, but the 350-year-old Horse Guards Inn in Tillington (details available at TripAdvisor) is nearby, while Midhurst is home to two particularly historic inns: see the Nights in the Past entries for The Angel and The Spread Eagle.
Slindon, West Sussex
On the southern slopes of the South Downs, Slindon’s houses and cottages are built primarily in the local brick and flint which so typifies much of this part of West Sussex. Although often cited as one of the most lovely places in the area, its greatest claim to fame is in its being considered by some as the true birthplace of Cricket. Map
Places to stay: Sadly there are no hotels or inns that we know of offering accommodation within Slindon itself. However, there are numerous places nearby which we feel might be of interest to the history and heritage enthusiast seeking to avoid the modern. Arundel is only a few miles to the east and boasts several period accommodation options (see LateRooms.com)
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