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“Where the surrealists lived”

Farleys House & Gallery
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Sussex home of Surrealist photographer Lee Miller and artist Roland Penrose. Lee Miller and Roland Penrose came to live at Farleys House in 1949 and for the thirty five years that followed they built up a collection of contemporary art treasures, many of which were created by their friends and visitors including Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington and Joan Miro. The work of these and numerous others are exhibited in the house alongside those of Penrose and Miller giving the visitor a fascinating look into the world of the Surrealists. Farleys House and Gallery are open to the public on Sundays between April and October each year. Private group tours can be arranged for 12 - 45 people on Tuesday and Thursdays with advance booking. All visits to the house are by guided tour.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

If you want to see where and how the surrealists really lived, visit Farleys House and Gallery. You will be delighted

Thank Muuum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2 - 6 of 51 reviews

Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

You need to be organized to find out when it’s open, and then you need to book a timed slot as it’s guided tours only. Which is not my preference. However despite that it was fascinating and the guides all had links to the family or house. Then you can relax in the garden. There was something unspoiled and evocative about it. The art was also interesting as was the social history and individual lives

Thank VT01273
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 November 2017

Have lived locally for years, but wasn't aware of this attraction. Have been a couple of times now with friends great exhibition and also the enjoy coming for the Chiddingly art festival.

1  Thank ccorsa22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 October 2017

Farleys House seems as filled with different layers of time as it is with art, found objects, tribal figures and many other things collected by British surrealist Roland Penrose and his partner Lee Miller. There's a Picasso in every room, a cabinet of curiosities in the corridor and a display of some of Miller's equipment from her time as a war correspondent, including the knuckle dusters she carried for protection and her portable typewriter. In the dining room you feel as if Penrose is still sitting at the table, planning the 1936 Surrealist Exhibition, while in yet another dimension first wife Valentine continues to read her tarot cards. Yet it retains the sense of a home where people lived, loved, argued, dreamed and, in Miller's case, cooked. It's a great achievement to open such a treasure filled house to the public. Understandably, it's guided tours only. There's not enough time to take in every detail or look at every painting. I recommend buying the generously illustrated book by Anthony Penrose.

Thank Hazel R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 6 September 2017

As a graduate of art, I have always had a specialist interest in Surrealism. I am particularly passionate about the work of the female artists of the genre. Their work, in my opinion, holds its own in comparison to their better-known male counterparts. But it's not just the work of these artists that captivated me. Their lives (women and men) were as colourful and creative as anything they could produce in a studio. As a student, Lee Miller became something of a role model for me. As a graduate, her drive, determination and desire to live life to the full continues to inspire. It is no surprise that Farley Farm has been on my list of 'must sees' for as long as I can remember. It did not disappoint.
The house is open for guided tours on Sundays between April and October. You can't pre-book and it operates on a first come first served basis. The ground floor which is littered with numerous pieces of art, original furniture, artifacts and books is kept as a 'museum' space for tours. Upstairs is home to the Lee Miller Archives and The Penrose Collection.
When we arrived there were already several people waiting to book into the first tour. The first port of call is a converted barn, Farleys Gallery, where you can book, order refreshments and view the current exhibition. We were lucky to visit on a beautiful sunny day so we were able to enjoy a pre-tour tea in the Sculpture Garden. The well-stocked gift shop, something of a surrealist fanatic's paradise, was where the tour began. First stop was Lee Miller's kitchen. It was fascinating to experience the room where she created many surreal dishes in her later life. A prominent feature is a tile painted by Picasso which was inlaid into the cooker's splashback. Amusing to think that this valuable piece had been covered in cooking oil and other such liquids during its life. From the kitchen, we made our way into the dining room. Here we learnt about the life and work of Roland Penrose. I must admit that prior to this tour he was not in my top ten list of Surrealists (yes, I do have one!) and that I was probably rather ignorant as to the value of his work. Only now do I realise that it is his paintings adorning the covers of two of my well-thumbed, art degree text books.The Surrealist artists were regular visitors at Farley Farm. It was exciting to imagine that many of my art school heroes and heroines had had numerous evenings of good food, drink, discussion and hi-jinks in this very room. Coming back through the ornate corridor the tour takes you through to Lee Miller's study. More fascinating facts and delightful anecdotes about this colourful lady's life as a model, photographer and war correspondent. The last room on the tour boasts a spectacular view across the majestic South Downs where, on a good day, one can see The Long Man of Wilmington. This figure, whose origin is unknown, appears in a mural painted by Penrose within the vast fireplace of the house's dining room.
The tour concluded after an hour where we returned to the shop to make purchases. After this, one was free to explore the beautiful grounds - the Sculpture Garden which is designed by Lee and Roland's son, Antony Penrose. Here, permanent sculptures exist alongside pieces from the current exhibition. To my absolute delight I discovered Antony Penrose cutting sprigs of apple mint (which he informed me made a very good tea) and I had a lovely chat with him. He was incredibly amiable and even consented to having a photo taken with me (whilst looking somewhat amused at the thought of it!)
The tour was both informative and well-organised. The grounds are beautiful and make for a relaxing place to enjoy refreshments (you can visit the garden alone for just £2), and the house is immaculately kept. My student dreams were fulfilled in one morning, and I know that I will be returning to Chiddingly to experience the delights of this gem of an art lovers dream, for a second time.

1  Thank Evangelina27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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