On a mixed farm dating back to the 13th century in East Sussex, Rye-based RX Architects has repurposed a series of old farm buildings into the new home of Tillingham Winery, a natural and biodynamic wine producer committed to regenerative farming and ecological diversity. Set on approximately 70 acres of farmland, the organic winery has not only carved out spaces for wine production and tasting, but for visitor accommodations as well as teaching and artisan workshop spaces. Elements of the original architecture — the property’s various farm buildings include a traditional oast dating back to the 19th century — have been preserved and celebrated in the renovation.
Located off of a winding lane in Peasmarsh, Tillingham Winery enjoys stunning panoramic views across the Tillingham Valley toward the Cinque Port town of Rye. To celebrate the views and the rich heritage of the site, the architects restored and re-clad the existing farm buildings with a mix of metal, concrete and timber with simple, robust detailing. The original galvanized metal and timber door was also restored; the massive sliding doors and large expanses of glazing frame views through the building to the courtyard and the landscape beyond. The mixed vine varieties are planted on the predominately south-facing land, while sheep grazing, agroforestry and camping are located across the other parts of the estate.
In another nod to the site history, the architects sunk two large wine-making qvevri — large earthenware vessels used for fermenting, storing and aging wine — underground beside the open-sided oast in an area once used to lay the long strands of hops for drying. In doing so, the architects have not only created the first-ever qvevri cellar in the United Kingdom but have also highlighted the oast’s former agricultural purpose.
The oast has also been repurposed into an 11-room boutique hotel for Tillingham. Guests have access to an onsite restaurant, a wine bar and bottle shop and an outdoor kitchen (formerly a dutch barn) for al fresco dining.
Photography by Richard Chivers via RX Architects