Sarah Miles launches new daytime retreat venture

Sarah Miles with her dogs. Picture by Kate Shemilt.
Sarah Miles with her dogs. Picture by Kate Shemilt.

Sixties film star Sarah Miles has launched a new venture from her historic Chithurst Manor home

After decades of making movies and headlines, the 71-year-old actress has turned her back on film-star glamour to open a healing retreat.

And, in a rare glimpse behind the scenes, she has allowed the Observer into her home for an exclusive interview.

The actress, whose career flourished in the swinging Sixties and early Seventies and who was Oscar-nominated for her starring role in 1970 film Ryan’s Daughter, will be running calming daytime retreats for the public – from her own home near Iping, west of Midhurst.

She wanted to share her home as a place for people to get away and recuperate if they need a break or are suffering from illness, but cannot afford expensive treatments or spa days.

She and her co-therapist Ian Delves will not charge for the retreat, they will only ask for donations.

The 11th-century home, set in 12 acres of woodland, has a natural spring which feeds into the River Rother.

Sarah moved into the manor 27 years ago with her late husband Robert Bolt – who is buried in the garden.

When the pair moved to the house, she said that after suffering a stroke, Robert benefitted greatly from the ‘magical’ springs.

“He was not meant to have lived after three years and we had 14, all because he was here and he loved it so much.”

She will ask only for donations for her retreat days because it was important, she said, not to alienate those who could not afford relaxing spa days.

And with the neighbouring 11th-century church and a Buddhist monastery, the place has a undeniably calming atmosphere.

“People never want to leave when they come,” she said.

On why she is starting the project now, she said: “Why did I wait so long? I had to be absolutely sure I was walking my talk.”

With a lifestyle different from that one might expect of a Bafta- and Academy Award-nominated movie star, Sarah said she ‘never quite fitted in’ with the Hollywood crowd.

“I have a different way of thinking,” she said.