The create-date is a core creative practice, a most-fun-you-can-imagine weekly expedition, doing something that excites or delights you. This week, it’s soaking in the atmosphere at St Benedict’s B&B, St Leonards.

I’m down in St Leonards for a night with The Daughter, staying at one of the most amazing B&Bs I’ve ever been in.

Owned by Paul Oxborrow and his partner, Stephen Groves, St Benedicts is crammed with Victorian artefacts and furniture, collected from antique fairs and junk shops, mingled with Christian and other religious statues and pictures.

In an interview in an interiors magazine, Stephen described his house as “a traditional home in the flavour of the 19th century… an amalgam of things we love and have collected over the years: patterns, textures, furniture… Often it’s things we’ve bought on our travels abroad, bunched together in an 1890s kind of way.”

1890s is one of my favorite times and places, so I am in heaven here. And in awe of what they’ve created by, as Paul says, “investing whatever time and money we had, month by month” into the place.

Staying here is an incredible experience. The plumbing is all Victorian, so I fill my bath by geyser. There is wi-fi but few concessions to modernity. The television is hidden in a cupboard. Breakfast is served with the same dedication to quality and care as the house.

I spent my create date this week admiring and enjoying their stupendous creation. The care and attention that’s gone into every fitting, every utensil, every fabric and color and design, is super inspiring.

When they came here first, they owned the ground-floor only but over time they’ve acquired the top floors and basement and have returned the house, built in 1880, to its original layout.  Now they are developing the house next door. Will it be done in similar style?

“Probably,” says Paul. “I don’t really see the point of minimalism. You’re always going to have to have stuff, so why not show it off?’


Orna Ross
Author: Orna Ross

Orna Ross is an award-winning novelist and poet, advocate for self-publishing and, as Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, "one of the 100 most influential people in publishing" (The Bookseller).