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Arts and Crafts at the Clergy House

Interior of the 14th-century cottage at Alfriston Clergy House, East Sussex
Interior of the 14th-century cottage at Alfriston Clergy House | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

We are delighted to have a very talented local artist join us this year as our Artist in Residence to continue the arts and crafts legacy of the Clergy House.

After the National Trust purchased the Clergy House and the necessary restoration had been carried out the property was tenanted.

Over the years many different people connected to the art world visited or tenanted the property including:

Max Balfour tenant 1897 – 1900

C R Ashbee (architect who founded Guild of Handicraft) visited 1898 (on his honeymoon) , 1899 & 1900.

Muirhead Bone tenant 1903

Charles Aitkin tenant 1907 – 1936

Sir Robert Witt tenant 1907 - 1952

James Bolivar Manson visited 1911

Dugald MacColl visited 1915

Thyra Creyke-Clark visited and later leased house 1948 - 1974

In 1907 Charles Aitkin and Sir Robert Witt co- tenanted the property. Aitkin was the Director of the Tate Gallery a position he held until his retirement in 1930. Witt was a solicitor by profession, who helped to found the National Art Collections Fund, and served as trustee of both the National Gallery and the Tate and in 1932 he was heavily involved in the establishment of the Courtauld Institute. He and his wife Mary were keen collectors of photographs and reproductions of historic artwork, as well as drawings by Old Masters. The Witt library, as it became known, was donated to the Courtauld Institute after their deaths. The Witt and Aitkin tenancy ensured that the Clergy House became a place for artists to holiday.

Today our artist in residence works in both watercolour and oils, creating work inspired by the property just as the artists before.

Please see the events page for further details on availability.