Historic buildingSights and activitiesPreston Manor

Price £8.10

Preston Manor is a historic house in Preston Park north of Brighton city centre.

The manor has experienced a varied history that is believed to date back to the Saxon era (around the 9th or 10th century). At the time of the Domesday survey (1086) it belonged to the Diocese of Chichester and was rented out to private tenants until the Crown took possession of the manor following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Around this time, it is said that Anne of Cleves (the fourth wife of Henry VIII) stayed at the house.

In the 17th century, it was home to Sir Anthony Shirley, 1st Baronet Shirley of Preston and by the early 18th century it was acquired by Thomas Western who set about renovating and expanding the property and most of what you see today is the result of this work.

By the end of the 18th century, the property was sold to William Stanford whose family became the richest in Sussex, and in the 19th century the family played an important role in the development of Brighton and Hove. The family eventually bequeathed the property to the city on the condition that it be preserved as a museum and it is now operated as a museum showing how the upper classes lived during the Edwardian era.

Preston Manor has a reputation as one of Britain’s most haunted houses, it has featured in an episode of Most Haunted and ghost tours are sometimes conducted here.

The manor is also the setting of the online murder mystery computer game, Murder in the Manor, which includes 360º panoramic views of the manor’s interior set out in the same manner that visitors are able to see it today.

The stucco-clad exterior of Preston Manor is not as impressive as many other English stately homes but the Edwardian-era interior is certainly worth a visit.
The stucco-clad exterior of Preston Manor is not as impressive as many other English stately homes but the Edwardian-era interior is certainly worth a visit.

What to see at Preston Manor

Preston Manor is a Grade II* listed building that is part of the 32.58 ha (80½ acre) Preston Village Conservation Area. The core buildings in this area are Preston Manor and the adjacent St Peter’s Church, which was built in the mid-13th century.

The manor is a two-storey building with a Palladian-style facade, which was popular during the Georgian period. From the exterior, the stucco-clad building is not as impressive as many other English manor houses but the interior, which is presented in the style of the Edwardian-era, is rather impressive.

Visitors to Preston Manor are able to visit four levels. On the ground floor, you can see the entrance hall, the Macquoid Room (in the former library), a morning room, the Cleves Room (a small sitting room featuring lavishly-designed gilt leather panels), a drawing room and dining room (which features Qing Dynasty Chinese vases and an impressive collection of 124 Buddhist lions). The first floor is reached via a significant staircase and there you can see several bedrooms. You can also visit the attic, which has a former maid’s workroom displayed as a nursery and you can see the Victorian-era servants’ quarters in the basement. In the basement, you can see remnants of an earlier 13th-century house (dating from 1250).

The garden between the manor and St Peter’s Church is reached by crossing a wooden bridge. The garden is divided into four sections: the 18th-century walled garden, the formal lawn, a sensory garden for the visually impaired and a garden with lily ponds. There is a pet cemetery at the southwestern corner of the garden, which is considered the only one in Sussex. The entire garden has been classified by English Heritage as a Garden of Historic Interest.

The 13th-century St Peter's Church sits next to Preston Manor.
The 13th-century St Peter’s Church sits next to Preston Manor.

Visiting Preston Manor

Preston Manor is located at the northwestern corner of Preston Park, which is in the northern part of Brighton that most visitors don’t get the opportunity to see. It is around a half-hour walk north of central Brighton and local bus routes 5, 5A, 17, 40, 40X and 273 run regularly into the city centre. Free parking is available on site.

It is around a 12-minute walk from the Booth Museum of Natural History.

The manor is open to the public Tuesday to Sunday between April and September and sometimes opens in winter for special events. Admission costs £8.10 and the annual multi-attraction pass (which gives you combined entry to Preston Manor along with Brighton Museum and the Royal Pavilion) costs £27.

Preston Manor is partially wheelchair accessible. There is access to the ground floor and the basement (which is accessible by lift) but the first floor and attic are only accessible via the staircase. Because this is a historic building, some doorways are too narrow for some electric wheelchairs; however, there are some manual wheelchairs available to use.

There is a small gift shop on site but there is no on-site cafe. However, neighbouring Preston Park has two cafes and there are plenty of places to eat and drink nearby on Preston Road.

Free Wi-Fi wireless internet access is available throughout the house.

You should allow 45 minutes to an hour to visit all the rooms and the garden of Preston Manor plus an additional hour to get here and to return to central Brighton.

Amenities
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Gift shop

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