Ashurst in West Sussex is a chocolate-box village once home to Laurence Olivier. Stay here and maybe you too will ‘cry God for Harry, England and St George’. It’s an oh-so-English spot complete with sleepy church and 16th-century pub. A place where the Christmas panto in the village hall is the biggest annual commotion.
At the heart of this bucolic dream sits The Cedar Barn, part of an old family estate renovated to stunning, shining glory. Sit in the shade of the mighty oaks. Tackle some tennis before taking tea on the terrace or setting your steaks sizzling on the barbie.
Raid the fruit trees, cook local farm produce in the ovens, wash it down with a sparkling Sussex Nyetimber. Let the kids loose on the swings and footie nets or on the snooker table and table football. Brace yourself for board games and jigsaws. Or just fire up the TV or 4G and while away the hours on stuff that doesn’t matter, among people who do.
The Cedar Barn sits majestically among the 17 acres claimed from the rolling hills of West Sussex, sun loungers facing south, patio primed and ready for burning some bangers on the barbie.
Examine the heavens from the hot tub. Bash some balls around on the all-weather tennis court, set the kids loose on the swings and the rolling lawns, kick a ball into the net, zap down the zip wire, hang around in the treehouse and relax on the hammocks. Fancy yourself as an angler? There is also a fishing lake on-site with kit available for use.
Try some croquet or cricket on the lawn. Sit in the shade of the ancient oaks with a book. Or plan a picnic at the lake. Catch sight of the neighbouring deer throughout the year and, if you’re lucky, the bluebells in Spring.
Don’t forget to charge up your Tesla while you sleep, as there is an electric car charging port outside.
The Cedar Barn’s built upside-down to catch the views, but it’s also truly inside-out. The balcony proves that with its bird’s-nest views over the South Downs, the acreage, the oak trees and the lake. Pop back in whenever you like: the Nespresso’s ready, the cushions are plumped and the movie’s about to roll.
You can catch your favourite films on one of four TVs, three with 200-channel FreeSat and one with Freeview. Watch in comfort: inside the white walls with their exposed oak, the giant L-shaped sofa invites curling up and cosying with friends and family. It’s an open-plan arrangement that’s light, bright and beautifully beamy.
Sociable starts here. Chop, chat and change from dining room to living room to kitchen without losing sight of anyone. When you want to escape the madding crowd, there’s another L-shaper in the games room that suggests a bookfest. Tired of turning pages? The snooker table and table footie await.
Kids can also pile into the puzzles, jigsaws and board games. Go on – you know you want to join in. Take bedtime into overtime, pour a glass of local Nyetimber or Nutbourne or one of the excellent wines produced on the neighbouring Wiston Estate. Set your soundtrack on the Sonos, stream and surf the 4G, and ask Alexa about tomorrow’s weather.
Raid the orchard for apples and plums; you can bake your puff-pastry tart in one of two ovens. If you need a hob, you’ve two electric and three gas. Stock up on lamb and beef from Hutchings and the green stuff from Budgens in Steyning. Wash it all down with sparkling Sussex wines from Wiston Estate Winery.
Eat beneath the oak beams around the rustic dining table, among the tree canopy, with the doors open to the clean country air and the sound of the woodpigeons and the goldfinches. Or head out to the terrace to clink glasses in the sunshine as the smoke from the barbie drifts nosewards.
Stepping out for pub grub? Step back into the 16th century at The Fountain Inn, with its own beach and deckchairs, plus a fine line in dirty jackfruit samosas. Order grilled halloumi burger or steak burger and triple-cooked chips from The Crown Inn at Dial Post. Or try ham hock and pistachio from The Green Man.
Restaurants? Head out for a slice of the dolce vita at Mamma Mia Italian in Steyning, for the roast of the day at The Old Tollgate Carvery in Bramber or for some Green Papaya Salad with BBQ chicken on the beach at Thirteen Thai in Storrington. Or raid the Michelin Guide for fine dining at Interlude set within the beautiful Leonardslee Gardens, or Little Fish Market or Crabtree.
Resist the urge to sleep out in the treehouse under the stars. Instead, focus on the beautifully presented downstairs bedrooms with their pristine white paint, their oak beams and their promise of deep, deep sleep.
The Pheasant offers a kingsize bed with an en-suite shower with the chance to catch up on your TV favourites without getting out of bed. The Rabbit provides two singles, plus another pull-out single. You can slide out to the terrace and gardens direct from the bedroom.
The Stag is a double that also offers private access to the gardens and terrace, while the Duck gives you a designer triple bunk bed, which incorporates a small bed suitable for a toddler. Up on the Woodpecker mezzanine, there’s a small double sofa bed and TV. A family bathroom with bath and separate shower keeps the troops clean.
What does it take to keep kids happy on holiday? A strategic pack of crayons and books? An organised treasure hunt? A holiday diary? They can do all that at The Cedar Barn, while also diving headfirst into 17 acres of marvellous mischief.
To the hide-and-seek and lawn gymnastics, you can add blowing off steam on the swings. Small sports stars will also love kicking a ball into the full-size footie nets, slam-dunking the basketball hoop and hitting the cricket ball for six. Raising more-genteel kids? Introduce them to croquet.
Indoors, little Ronnie O’Sullivans will love the snooker table, part of a dedicated games room that also includes table footie, board games, puzzles and jigsaws. Dotted around the place, you’ll also find FreeSat and Freeview TVs, so they’ll never miss their favourite shows.
They can stream stuff on the 4G wifi and play their top tunes on the Sonos sound system. For younger kids, we provide high chairs and cots.