Historic Swanborough Manor, near Lewes, has been put on the market. It was given to the University of Sussex in 1963 by Lady Reading, who was an enthusiastic supporter of the founding of the University.
The University Library holds a collection of special papers on the manor's chequered and fascinating history: it dates back to about 1200, when a monastery was founded on the site.
Initially, the manor was divided up to provide accommodation for graduate students and faculty, but from 1985 to 1997 was used as the Vice-Chancellor's residence, in accordance with Lady Reading's wishes.
However, the house is expensive to maintain and several specialist firms have been employed to advise the University on alternative options for its use. As the house is Grade I listed, the University has been advised that planning consents for the necessary work would be virtually impossible to obtain.
Earlier this year, Council took the decision to put the house on the market. At this stage offers in the region of £1.95 million are being invited, with the possibility also being explored of renting the manor on a short-term lease.
"The decision to put Swanborough on the market was not taken lightly," says Vice-Chancellor Professor Alasdair Smith. "Sadly, the cost of retaining Swanborough Manor makes it inappropriate for a Vice-Chancellor's residence in contemporary circumstances, and it is impossible to adapt it for other University purposes. I am in discussion with Lady Reading's family about the options for the future."
If the estate is sold, the proceeds will be used to provide new facilities on campus as part of the capital investment programme in new teaching and research buildings.
"We very much hope that the Reading family name will live on here on campus by naming one of the new buildings after Lady Reading," says the Vice-Chancellor.