Cottage Of The Week: Beechcroft, Sussex

On the edge of 1066 country, Beechcroft in Sussex is a cosy retreat with a sense of history

Converted farm buildings are not a new concept in the world of self-catering holidays. But few are so painstakingly reconstructed as at Beechcroft. Here, owner Michael Haydon has used traditional materials and techniques to make his period farm buildings stand apart. The Oast, Byre, Bull Pen, Cart Lodge and, our chosen retreat, The Granary, house two to 17 people, mixing modern-day comforts with pleasing period features including some novel uses for old farm implements.

The location

Buried in the East Sussex countryside, near Herstmonceux.

The comfort factor

The Granary provided a very cosy retreat for our two-family party. The fact that its two double bedrooms are on different floors offers a degree of privacy, and the twin gives kids a bolthole too. The long lounge is a pleasant place to come together. Split into two, with a small modern kitchen at the rear, deep sofas define a sitting area and a table seating eight encourages convivial dining. Picture windows slide back to give access to a large patio supplied with table, chairs and glorious southerly views of the Sussex countryside.

The bathroom

Gleaming, with fluffy towels and a few toiletries, too - always a nice touch at a self-catering cottage. Upstairs, the double has a private bathroom, while downstairs the double and twin share an en-suite. A handy third loo has been tucked under the stairs.

The food and drink

Our well-equipped kitchen lent itself to rustling up gourmet meals (though you have to get the hang of the Sandyford range) and the guest information revealed where to buy good local produce. The Sundial at Herstmonceux offers fancy French takeaways. Just a short walk down the road, the local pub, The Merrie Harriers, has a restaurant, though we preferred The Star Inn at Old Heathfield, a short drive away. There's a communal dining facility for up to 17 if you're hiring a few of the cottages for a get-together.

The people

The different buildings are close to each other, but there's enough privacy to remain undisturbed.

The area

You're on the edge of 1066 country, so a visit to Battle Abbey and Battlefield is an obvious diversion, especially for its smart new visitor centre. Castle addicts have Pevensey, Bodiam and Herstmonceux all within reach. Take a stroll around the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, Great Dixter and Wakehurst Place. For culture, Glyndebourne is less than half an hour by car. The kids will love the funfair at Hastings. Or take a hike along the coast on the South Downs Way.

The access

Babies with own Moses basket and children over five years welcome. No dogs.

The damage

Three-night breaks at The Granary cost from £510.

The address

Beechcroft, Cowbeech, East Sussex. Book through Rural Retreats (01386 701177;

Kate Simon travelled to East Sussex courtesy of (0845 225 0845; which offers weekend car hire from £68 from 1 April


* At Cherrygarth Cottages (01653 628247; in Yorkshire, old farm buildings have been turned into five-star stopovers.

* Once stables, The Old Byre (01263 740056; now offers a peaceful retreat in Norfolk.

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