Wellingham Vane – A journey into the past

Wellingham Vane is a beautiful old house lying in 2 ¼ acres of Sussex countryside. It is a rendered and tile hung elevation under a sloping tiled roof. It was extended in the early 1960’s by the parents of the present owners. It has many beautiful period features that indicate that the original part of the house may date back to the early 1600’s.

The ancestors of the Durrant Family had operated a malt house at Wellingham Lane from about 1650, which may be the approximate date that the house was built.

During the mid 19th century the family of Robert Argles Durrant developed their premises further by adding Ringmer’s only commercial brewery.

1878 Map showing Wellingham Brewery.
1878 Map showing Wellingham Brewery.

In 1920 the brewery went bankrupt and was destroyed by a fire.

This photograph, which was given to me by Miles Jenner of Harveys Brewery, Lewes, shows workers at the Brewery clearing up after the fire.
This photograph, which was given to me by Miles Jenner of Harveys Brewery, Lewes, shows workers at the Brewery clearing up after the fire.
This photograph was taken recently to give an idea of the position of the buildings.
This photograph was taken recently to give an idea of the position of the buildings.

In 1958 the house was bought by Cecil Anthony Sylvester Grimston, son of the 1st Baron Grimston of Westbury (died 1978) and Sybil (died 1977) daughter of Sir Sigmund Neumann. He was born on 28th February 1927.

He had married Dawn Janson, daughter of Guy Janson. Guy Janson was one of the leading farmers of his day in the Lewes area, holding around 1200 acres in all at South Farm, Rodmell 1927-1978.

The House was extended in the early 1960ties by Dawn and Cecil, always known as Tony, doubling the size of the lounge and adding a further bedroom.

house in the sixties
Taken in the early sixties, the photo shows how the house would have looked before the alterations.

This lovely aerial photograph (next), taken at about the same time, shows clearly how the gardens have matured over the last 40 years. Many new borders with mixed planting have been added, also two ponds provide a quiet shady spot on a hot Summer’s day.

Aerial photo taken in the 60ties.
Aerial photo taken in the 60ties.

The weeping Ash tree in the centre of the lawn, top right hand corner in the aerial photo, is now a beautiful, mature tree, its branches reaching the ground and for children and adults alike can become a fantasy hiding place in the height of Summer when fully clothed with leaves.

The weeping Ash tree
The weeping Ash tree is now a beautiful, mature tree.

The beautiful Yew (Taxus baccatta) is a very striking feature, my favourite tree in the garden. This tree may have been here for many hundreds of years.

What stories this “old man” of the garden could tell as he stands there keeping watch over the families and the years that have come and gone. If only trees could talk!

yew tree The beautiful Yew (Taxus baccatta) is a very striking feature in the garden.
The beautiful Yew (Taxus baccatta) is a very striking feature in the garden.

Tony and Dawn had two sons.

The youngest, Jack, was born in 1968 worked in London as a journalist on the News Desk for the “Sunday Times” Newspaper.

The eldest, Guy, the current owner, was born on the 11th January 1964 and has grown up in this house. He is now an agent for several agricultural feed companies and is a livestock buyer, buying for local butchers and farmers at Hailsham Cattle Market.

He married Dr. Alison Pile, daughter of John and Vivienne Pile, Farmers, of Middle Farm, Firle in August 1992.

The wedding of Guy and Alison
The wedding of Guy and Alison

After the marriage of Guy and Alison, Cecil had the small building now known as Vane Cottage converted into living accommodation. It was thought to have been a barrel store but the floor of the garage area is reminiscent of stable flooring, so may have accommodated the working horses used for transporting the beer.

Vane Cottage
Vane Cottage

He moved into the cottage giving Guy and Alison the larger house where they are now bringing up their family and the dog, Willow. They have 2 children. Daniel, born in March 1997 and Nathalie who was born in January 2001.