Unfortunately after reading the review from Jazz, we though that we had arrived at the wrong pub. Admittingly the building had an olde worlde charm with inglenook fireplace, the lighting was very low most probably because of the cleanliness as the tables and floors were dirty. The barmaid was surly and it seemed an effort for her to serve anyone as she kept disappearing. Other customers were complaining about the time it was taking for food to be served. Hopefully the letting rooms will be cleaner.
Ye olde smugglers inne is a enticing village pub which has all day opening serving delicious food a great wine list, real ales and a really large garden tucked away around the back of the patio area also a large conservatory the inne has rooms to let from the spring 2008 with a friendly atmosphere which is full of character you might even see the ghost !!! ye olde smugglers was built in 1358 and originally went by the name of market cross house.The house itself has 21 rooms and 47 doors and 6 staircases, as well as an assortment of hiding places such as the cellars and loads of hiding places in the roof all intended to confuse the enemy and allow easy escape for the smugglers from the excise men.The pub is full of history and retaining the original features and what a fabulous location alfriston stunning countryside.
The smugglers have long gone and Alfriston is now firmly on the tourist trail.
The village is nestled in foothills of the South Downs in East Sussex and is a gateway to the stunning scenery to be found within the Cuckmere Valley, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a Heritage Coast and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
But why go (in case the above isnt enough)?
Because its an easy place to stroll around with interesting specialty shops, welcoming pubs and comfortable hotels, wonderful walks and, for the energetic, biking trails. The village is picturesque and compact with narrow pavements and shops squeezed into old buildings. Almost all the village attractions are found on or within short walking distance of the High Street, which is the road through to Seaford from the A27.
The shops are perfect for window shopping - interesting and with real quality to tempt you. Especially if you are after hiking and biking gear, musical miscellany, hats, dresses, herbal remedies, out-of-print and antiquarian books, antiques, furniture, kitchen ware ( Steamer Trading is a place I still buy from), chocolate, original paintings and the ideal garden present with a difference - an original Sussex trug. I have bought something from most shops in Alfriston over the years and service has always been friendly and efficient.
If shopping is not to your taste and if even if it is the village can occasionally get over run with tourists and cars, especially in the summer - there are some excellent alternatives.
The Alfriston Clergy house is a 14th century thatched Wealden Wall House that was the first building to be acquired by the National Trust in 1896. The house has features local to Sussex, is in lovely gardens and beautifully situated. Entrance costs for adults are £3.10 and £1.55 for a child.
The 14th century church, sometimes called the cathedral of the Downs, stands in a graveyard within a circular wall and on a mound which is often thought to be an indication of Saxon use. If coming from Eastbourne the church gives you your first beautiful glimpse of Alfriston, and is a view often found in paintings.
Drusillas, just outside the village, is regarded by some as the best small zoo in England. There are over 100 animal species in naturalistic environments; including meerkats, otters, monkeys, lemurs, penguins, snakes, bats the list goes on. It is a wonderful place to take children with a great range of activities and distractions. It is a long time since I have been but I loved it as a child and it has gone from strength to strength. Prices for adults range from £10 to £11.75 and children (2 to 12) from £9 to £10.75. The zoo is totally accessible to buggies and wheelchair users.
The English Wine Centre, next to Drusillas, was established to enable visitors with the opportunity to taste English wines. There is also a museum telling the story of English wine. If you like your wine which I do - and want to try the very best English wine (which I have) then the centre is well worth a visit. There is also a shop (of course).
Maybe you just want to chill - to drink, eat or even sleep. Happily Alfriston can cater for those needs too.
The Star Inn, built in 1345, is reputedly one of England oldest Inns, and besides drink, you can eat and sleep there are 37 rooms with prices starting at £34. Besides the Star, there is the George Inn, the Smugglers Inn and the Wingrove Inn (which still stands after recent proposals to turn it into residential flats were refused). All offer accommodation.
The Smugglers Inn (then Market Cross House) was once owned by a notorious smuggler called Stanton Collins. The house was designed to confuse customs and excise with 21 rooms, 47 doors, 6 staircases and secret hiding places in the cellars and the roof. Collinss gang was very efficient for despite being renowned they were not caught for smuggling. Revenge was had when Collins was caught for an unrelated crime and transported to Australia.
I digress. I have drunk and eaten in all these pubs and while the Wingrove was rather neglected the others all have a great atmosphere and serve good food, though some can be a bit busy for food at weekends. There is a well regarded restaurant (The Tudor House) I have not tried.
Old county houses accommodate two of Alfristons Hotels, the White Lodge with 19 rooms (prices from £90) and Deans Place Hotel with 36 rooms (prices from £65). A B&B option is Rose Cottage, a restored Georgian property that welcomes walkers. For those on a tighter budget or with a basic comfort requirement there is a Youth Hostel a mile outside the village. It has 68 beds and costs £12.50, or £9 if under 18.
I have only stayed at Deans Place once having, amazingly for me, won a raffle ticket for a weekends accommodation with dinner. The room was very comfortable and the service good.
If you want to venture further for food (but all within 5 miles) I can recommend Crossways Restaurant at Wilmington for their exceptional food (my mouth waters with the memory), Sillets Cottage Restaurant at Selmeston, the Rose Cottage Pub at Alciston and the Sussex Ox at Milton Street for great food and the Cricketers at Berwick for its pub food and Harveys Beer.
For the energetic you could walk or bike the many trails within the Cuckmere Valley itself. It is an area of breathtaking beauty, of a more gentle version than say Mid Wales where I have lived, but all the same well worth discovering.
One of Alfristons greatest assets is the South Downs Way which passes the village and is just a short walk (uphill) from the High Street. If walking Alfriston is on day one from Eastbourne and day 5 (and final) if starting from Winchester. This final section (heading towards Eastbourne) is one that many people consider to be the most attractive part of the walk. If biking, a friend who attempted the route would recommend you were very fit, and that you only attempt it in dryer conditions. He failed to complete the route at his first attempt (and he is fit), and covered the journey in 3 days at his second go.
If you are in the area in early December it is well worth experiencing the Dickensian night, when the road is closed and music, parades and the odd person drinking alcohol take the place of cars. A great festival atmosphere, with Dickensian characters ever present, is created and though I have only experienced it once I can say it is great fun. For summer visitors there is a Summer Festival out on the Tye, by the Clergy House, on the August Bank Holiday. I have never been but friends and their children who live in the village enjoy it.
I have been to the village at all times of the year, and it is definitely quieter out of the summer period. The traffic running through the village can be a problem because of the narrow High Street (room for one car only) and the narrow pavements but overall it is a lovely place. So, if you are looking to stay somewhere different for a few days Alfriston would certainly be an excellent place to choose. .
How to find it:
Alfriston is situated on a few miles south of the A27 on the Berwick to Seaford Road, and is roughly mid way between Lewes and Eastbourne in Sussex (6 to 8 miles). From either direction you follow the signs to Alfriston upon reaching the Drusillas roundabout.
If you want to go by train there is a station at Berwick, about three miles away. Berwick is on the London Victoria to Eastbourne / Hastings line.
Places to visit nearby (all within 7 miles)
Middle Farm (Cider, organic produce, animals)
Charleston Farmhouse (home to the Bloomsbury Set)
Glynde Place (16th Century home to the rich)
Firle Place (Tudor home to the rich)
Glyndebourne (Famous opera house)
Useful web pages:
For the village: www.alfriston-village.co.uk/
For Drusillas Zoo: www.drusillas.co.uk/ or members.dooyoo.co.uk/theme-parks-zoos-international/drusillas-park/1002958/ for a good opinion (not mine!).
For the Wine Centre: www.englishwine.co.uk/
For Finding it: www.multimap.com/
Thanks for reading.