WHEN Sarah Miles was a young girl she had a vision of the place she would one day live.
“I saw an ancient house and river near some woodland,” she said. “That has always stuck with me.”
Years later, after dozens of Hollywood blockbusters, her husband Robert Bolt had a stroke. They wanted to leave London and find a quiet place in the countryside.
“Let’s go and see if we can find your vision,” he said.
They searched for three years to find the home she had dreamt about, eventually giving up.
Then one day she looked through the wastepaper basket and saw the advert for Chithurst Manor, near Iping.
They went to see it straight away and within five minutes decided they had to have it.
The quaint 11th-century home has been the centre of Sarah’s world for the past three decades, and now she has decided to welcome people to share the peace and calm of the place.
Sarah and her co-therapist Ian Delves will hold retreat days every Tuesday, as well as meditation days and private healing sessions throughout the week.
Ian is a massage therapist and Sarah uses healing techniques she learned from famous author and spiritualist Betty Shine.
The retreat days will let people go and relax in the woodland, by the river, or at the natural springs.
There will be meditation, walks, creative writing, painting and a chance to get one-to-one healing sessions with Sarah or Ian.
The whole point, she said, was to enable people who can’t afford luxuries to visit and experience what nature has to offer.
The natural spring in the grounds is a wonder. The bubbling white sand is mesmerising, the water is the highest grade and, Sarah said, purer than what comes out of a tap.
The woodland is littered with bluebells and wild garlic, and the smell of garlic plants blends in with the woody forest.
The grounds are nestled between a Buddhist monastery and the church, and it’s like a bubble of positive energy; the place has a special charm and Sarah is keen to share it.
Even the house is charming and quiet; very traditional, with tiny ancient door frames.
Every corner has a story after nearly 900 years of sitting in the rolling Chithurst countryside.
But Sarah says it is the place itself which was healing, and drinking the water from the ‘magical’ springs, she said, has endless benefits.
She said of one visitor: “A terminal cancer victim, he had six weeks to live, and he lived for seven years. It is not me, it is the springs.”
And her husband Robert, she said, benefitted from living at Chithurst Manor, spending his final 14 years there with his wife.
Now Sarah spends her days walking her dogs in the woodland and is starting to get into yoga again after an accident two years ago.
“It’s very humbling to start again when you’ve been so far advanced,” she said. “It is good to be humbled.”
Everything is a positive with Sarah, and it’s hard to tell whether the positive energy that surrounds the house is emanating from the place or from the woman.