Earlier this year, I grabbed a copy of the pocket guide Secret Sussex and headed off to discover more of the hidden secrets held by our wonderful county. I still have much to explore but full of envy, I recently caught up with travel writer, blogger and author of Secret Sussex, Ellie Seymour to find out more about her love of Sussex, favourite places and recommendations.
What is your favourite place in Sussex and why?
It changes but at the moment, it’s the South Downs countryside around Ditchling, especially the village of Streat. It’s so tiny and unassuming but a great base for a walk, home to an incredible Elizabethan manor house, a pretty church, Suzy’s Streat Food honesty food stall for homemade snacks, Blackberry Wood campsite, lots of wineries, and pubs – all of it just a 15-minute drive north from my house in Brighton.
What is the most unusual place you’ve been to in Sussex?
A 10-foot-tall grave shaped like a pyramid in a churchyard in the tiny village of Brightling. It’s bizarre to see it, covered in moss, standing out from all the others. Apparently, the ghost of the man buried underneath it, haunts it.
What is your top recommendation for anyone visiting Sussex?
Pick a site from my book Secret Sussex to visit, perhaps on a walk, and for a reason to explore an area, you might not have thought to otherwise.
You seem to get right off the beaten track, but do you prefer exploring by foot, by car, by bike, alone, with company?
It depends on what I’m discovering. I tend to explore the countryside with company. If it’s an urban area, I’ll explore on foot, sometimes I go alone. Often though people – friends, family – want to join in with my adventures.
What about Brighton? Favourite place and top recommendation?
The Duke of York’s cinema. It’s the oldest cinema in the country, dating back to 1910. It’s set in a beautiful old building, has a balcony with sofas and they serve wine. I also love walking around the backstreets of different Brighton neighbourhoods, a habit from lockdown, which I turned into a series on my blog Ellie and Co.
You must meet all sorts of interesting people along the way. Is there anyone who stands out as the most extraordinary or interesting?
I loved meeting Lee Ismail, the curator of the Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton, for his incredible knowledge of natural sciences and the 1 million-plus objects in the museum’s collection.
If you could go back in time, where in Sussex history would you travel to and why?
To 1964 to watch the fight on Brighton beach between the mods and rockers!
Do you have a favourite Sussex writer or poet?
Arthur Conan Doyle for his Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
What next? More books about Sussex?
For now, I’m concentrating on my travel blog, but have a wild dream that one day I’ll write a thriller set in Sussex.
You can buy Secret Sussex from all the big bookshops including Amazon, Bookshop and Waterstones or direct from Ellie at: https://www.ellieandco.co.uk/shop