They carried out a full restoration and laid out the garden, doubtless assisted by her father, who, as a prominent member of the Royal Horticultural Society, employed 43 gardeners at his country home, Brockhurst. Two particularly unusual specimens have caught the eye of our gardener - a Persian ironwood tree, Parrotta persica, and a calico bush, Kalmia latiflora, both just below the bottom terrace to the right and left of the yew arch respectively.
Geoffrey Webb was a well-known stained-glass artist and he worked from a studio at the top of the house. The two roundels in the chapel were made by him. He came from an artistic family; it was his uncle, Aston Webb, who was had a series of commissions of national importance - Admiralty Arch, and works to the Victoria & Albert Museum and Buckingham Palace. It was Geoffrey’s daughter, Ursula, who with very great generosity, bequeathed Sackville House to the Landmark Trust at her death in 1995. She had worked tirelessly to defend the remaining portlands of East Grinstead from development, no doubt strengthened by her childhood memories of being able to ride from the garden right into Ashdown Forest without having to cross any roads.
We appointed Peregrine Bryant as our architect in 1995, and apart from building a new staircase running up from the back hall, it was felt little work was needed. We changed the position of the existing bathroom and added two more. We also felt that the view from the back of the house was so spectacular that the end room, until then a service room, should be the kitchen. This end room and the one above it were extended by some three feet towards the garden when the Webbs moved in, and the windows that they put in were originally much higher to prevent the servants from being distracted from their work. We lowered them by the same amount again.
The bottom of the new staircase is in what was the former kitchen. To improve its appearance and headroom, we removed a steel beam from the ceiling, which is now held up through the new bathroom partition. The old flooring was replaced with hand-made tiles.
In the front of the house, we made the cloakroom into one room, and in the corner of the sitting room where the family chapel is, we decided to block up the doorway from here into the hall. The design of most of the curtains in the house is based on the wall painting discovered in the bedroom lobby.
Outside we have painted the walls on the garden side with limewash. The yard has been repaved in brick and York stone, and the original stone wheel tracks, said to stem from the use of the house by a coffin maker, were revealed when the modern paving was taken up.
It was Ursula Webb’s brother, Father Benedict, who first wrote to the Landmark Trust saying that "nothing would give our family more happiness than to know that the future of Sackville House is assured as a residence and with its beautiful garden intact". We were delighted that he was the first person to stay here after our restoration, to see that his family and sister’s wishes will be respected.
By 2020, the Horsham stone roof required comprehensive repair. We had planned in major maintenance – and then the Covid pandemic hit. Thanks to the Cultural Recovery Fund, we were able to press on with a major campaign of repairs in 2021-22, making extensive repairs to the timber frame as well as the roof. Now the house is back to looking much as it always has, and once more in full good heart.