Sussex House Party

UK England South East England East Sussex Hailsham

  • Campfires allowed
  • Dogs welcome
  • Groups welcome
  • Beaches nearby
  • Good walks nearby
A secluded countryside escape, where open grassland merges into the woods
There was a time when dreamers would toss their pennies down a well, patiently wait for shooting stars, or lose three whole days rubbing ferociously on a lamp – we’ve all done that, er... right? But there is an easier way for romanticists to bring their wishes to fruition. Close your eyes, drift away and concoct your perfect outdoor gathering. Maybe it’s an extended family reunion, a dreamy woodland wedding, a full on festival-style birthday party, or a kid’s nature camp in the wilderness. Whatever your plans and however extensive they may be, Sussex House Party is a campsite thirsty for ideas. Offering a bespoke glamping experience, the options here range from a few nights in one of their well-furnished bell tents, to hiring out the entire eight acres adding catering, marquees, bells and whistles. The theory is simple: you pitch the ideas, they’ll pitch the tents.

It was back in 2008 that Gilly Smith and Jed Novick, a pair of academics, moved to this rural East Sussex idyll and began offering weekend retreats to fellow writers. The captivating space played host to evening dinner parties for leading authors and, as the calendar began to fill, evolved into a site for all manner of outdoor gatherings. Gilly and Jed can now boast a bulging contact book stuffed with all the personnel required for a serious glamping shin-dig: massage therapists, yoga teachers, bush craft experts, hog roasters and marquee pitchers – all can be called upon to take your glamping get together to the next level.

The space itself is a secluded countryside escape, where open grassland merges into the woods. There are four pre-pitched bell tents tucked in one corner, providing ample room for a couple or family of four on comfy queen-sized beds. You can pitch your own tents if you want to boost the numbers, or simply book out The Big Green Bus, a 1982 metro bus that’s been converted into a staggeringly cool living area. Roll out of bed and into the lush surroundings of rural Sussex, where the field provides acres of space to lark around, or venture into the woods which occasionally play host to Wild Nature’s kids’ camps for organised days of den building, fire lighting and bow and arrow crafting.

For those who aren’t conjuring up a dreamscape of onsite festivities, stepping back into the real world can still reap rewards. The historic sites of Hastings and Battle lie a short journey east, while to the west, boho Brighton is a 25 minute drive, buffered by the South Downs National Park and the county town of Lewes with its narrow Georgian streets. The seclusion of the site makes four wheels a necessity, but with so many things just a short drive away you’ll never find yourself stuck in a car for long. Whether it's basking on the beaches or rambling on The Downs, activities are close at hand. Those who do want a good walk from the campsite need look no further than nearby Chiddingly, a hamlet with a local pub that lures all sorts of music and performances on weekends.



This is a back-to-basics site with 2 compost loos and a water standpipe – no other facilities. Campfires are permitted. There's 8 acres of space in which to play, with a big field for rounders and football, a trampoline and woodland with shelters, dens and a 'magic circle'. The site also hosts Wild Nature’s kids’ camps, where bushcraft, sculpting and story telling are all rolled into several days of woodland activities.

Suitable For

Non-exclusive hire, along with groups, weddings, parties and family gatherings. Well-behaved dogs welcome. The glampsite is vehicle free, so no caravans, motorhomes, folding caravans or motor homes on the site – except with special permission. Your own tents can accompany the bell tents on site, but normal camping on its own is not permitted.


England's frontier against continental invaders, Sussex is rich in history with the famous sites of Battle (01424 775705) and Hastings a short drive from the campsite. Lewes Castle (01273 486290) and Herstmonceaux Castle (01323 833816), the latter with its superb Elizabethan gardens, are both close at hand. The Sussex Heritage Coast (03456 080193) is home to countless goods beaches and, perched atop a 40-foot cliff, the Birling Gap (01323 423197) is a coastal beauty spot with particularly stunning views. Also adorning the waterfront is Brighton, its party-town reputation in stark contrast to the tranquility of the South Downs National Park (03003 031053) which spreads back inland from the town. The national park hosts a wealth of outdoor activities with excellent walking and cycle routes, most notably the famous South Downs Way. Those inspired by the artistic origins of this fantastic campsite will enjoy Monk's House (01273 474760), the former home of Virginia Woolf, Charleston Farmhouse (01323 811626), home of the Bloomsbury Group and, within walking distance of the campsite, Farley Farm House (01825 872856) where Picasso and Man Ray used to holiday with Lee Miller and Roland Penrose.

Food & Drink

If you have specific catering needs, talk to Gilly and she'll help arrange hog roasts, dinner parties and the like onsite. For more low key affairs, there's a BBQ or you can cook on campfires. Hailsham or (far nicer) Lewes are the closest sizeable shopping areas for stocking up on supplies. A 15 minute walk will take you into Chiddingly, home of The Six Bells (01825 872227), an excellent local pub with live music on weekends, bargain bar food and a friendly atmosphere.

Opening Times

May - October.


Contact Sussex House Party, secret location, near Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6JQ

Show Map

Getting There

It is imperative you ring in advance for specific instructions. Those with satnav should set it to BN8 6JQ. The campsite is just off the A22 between East Hoathley and Golden Cross or off B2124 between Laughton and Golden Cross.


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