Follow in the Footsteps of Eastbourne's Literary Heroes!
2017 has been named as the ‘Year of the Literary Heroes’ by Visit England and it’s safe to say that across the years Eastbourne has been a popular spot for literary legends. Eastbourne is bursting with literature history that will please bookworms old and young. Discover the town's ties to literary icons such as Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh!
To celebrate 20 years since the release of J.K Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, fans of witchcraft and wizardry can relive the magic in Eastbourne. Head to Eastbourne’s downlands at Beachy Head to re-enact scenes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, this location was used for the Quidditch World Cup. For those who have been awaiting a visit from the Hogwarts Acceptance owl, a weekend at Herstmonceux Castle for Bothwell School of Magic is sure to be a magical experience. Those who are lucky enough to get hold of tickets will be sorted into houses, take part in lessons on the art of witchcraft and devour a banquet. Eastbourne’s 200 year old Redoubt Fortress will also be home to magical wizarding workshops later in the year for budding witches and wizards!
Take a wonder around Eastbourne Old Town where Charles Dickens, known for his many literary masterpieces including Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, enjoyed many holidays in the 1830’s. You’ll find a Blue Plaque dedicated to him at Pilgrims, 4-6 Borough Lane to mark his many visits. Make sure you stop at the 12th century pub, The Lamb Inn, for a drink where Dickens reputably held performances in the past!
Step into the pages of an AA Milne storybook and follow in the footsteps of Christopher Robin with an adventure to Winnie the Pooh’s home, Pooh Corner. Explore Hundred Acre Wood at Ashdown Forest, just an hour’s drive from Eastbourne. There’s plenty to do, from woodland walks to playing Poohsticks on the famous Pooh Bridge! In the words of Winnie, when it’s “time for a little something” you can enjoy a sweet treat at Piglet’s Tearoom. On your journey home, why not stop at the nearby Llama Park?
Follow in the footsteps of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. Spend the day walking across the South Downs National Park, head to East Dean and you’ll find the home in which the iconic Sherlock Holmes, reputably retired to keep bees. Just minutes away from Sherlock’s former home is the gorgeous Tiger Inn, the perfect spot for a bite to eat whilst overlooking the rolling hills of the South Downs!If you’re looking for fun family days out with literary roots, you’ll love Bateman’s in East Sussex. The stunning home of Rudyard Kipling, regularly hosts literature themed events for families with a focus on Kipling’s stories. The next free family event on May 6-7 is based around the storybook ‘Rewards and Fairies’ and explores the magic and folklore of the English countryside and will feature magical storytelling, trails and more.
For an adventure to Neverland enjoy an overnight stay at the stunning Ocklynge Manor, once the home to Peter Pan illustrator, Lucie Mabel Attwell. The enchanting house is one of Eastbourne’s oldest houses, over 300 years old and surrounded by stunning gardens waiting to be explored! The peaceful surroundings make for the perfect reading spot to cosy up with a book!
If you enjoy holidaying in Eastbourne, you're not alone! Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Jabberwocky, visited Eastbourne 19 times and the location of his first visit at 7 Lushington Road in 1877 is marked with a Blue Plaque. The plaque can be found close to Eastbourne's Town Centre, why not pop to the shops and pick up a new book on your travels?
In the South Downs you will find the stunning Charleston Farmhouse which became the country meeting place for the group of writers, artists and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Set. Charleston is now considered as one of the best small museums in the world.
The house was home to Virgina Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell, and her partner Duncan Grant who were both talented artists and decorated the home in art inspired by Italian fresco painting and post-impressionism. The house is open to the public and represents the sixty years of artistic creativity that took place in the country home with a yearly literary festival, The Charleston Festival, taking place every May.
In Berwick, you’ll find the Berwick Church which still to this day features the murals painted in 1941 by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.
Author of ‘A Room of One’s Own’ and part of the influential Bloomsbury Set, Virgina Woolf, also has ties to East Sussex. Nearby in the charming village of Lewes, Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s home 'Monk’s House' can be found. The 17th century cottage in the heart of the South Downs National Park was home for the couple for fifty years and now has a studio in the garden of the country retreat which guests can stay overnight in!
Can’t decide which literary legend to visit first? Why not follow the Blue Plaque Heritage Trail and explore Eastbourne along the way! The trail begins at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre and takes you along the seafront, through the town, into Meads and then the Old Town!