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The present Manor was established on the site by at least the 12th century and was recorded in Domesday Book as Carlestone. Charleston functioned as an agricultural farmstead, tenanted during the 19th century and then in use as labourers' accommodation before standing empty in 1931.

The painter Sir Oswald Birley (1880-1952) and his wife bought Charleston in that year and in 1932 commissioned the architect and garden designer Walter Hindes Godfrey (1881-1961) to refurbish the house and lay out the garden. The Birleys established the Sussex (later the Charleston) festival at the Manor which continued until the house was sold in 1980 after Lady Birley's death. The property has changed hands several times since but the gardens survive largely as designed by Walter Godfrey with the present (1996) private owners continuing the tradition of the annual music festival.

People associated with this site

Designer: Walter Hindes Godfrey (born 02/08/1881 died 16/09/1961)