History of Otters Holt

Ella Viola Brandelius Strom and Percy Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (born George Percy Grainger; 8 July 1882 – 20 February 1961) was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist  In the course of a long and innovative career, he played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century. Although much of his work was experimental and unusual, the piece with which he is most generally associated is his piano arrangement of the folk-dance tune "Country Gardens".

In 1926, on a luxury liner travelling from Australia back to America, he had encountered Ella Ström . She was obviously a captivating woman, originally from Sweden.  Ella had settled at Lilla Vran (now Otters Holt) in Seaville Drive with her daughter. So in 1927 Percy made his way to Pevensey Bay.

“At about midnight we reached Pevensey and Westham railway station – a pitch-black night - & stood waiting quite a time while a taxi was brought to life by some friendly man at the station. I would have been well pleased to stand there waiting with [Ella] all night.” - Percy Grainger

Ella and Percy were married in 1928 on the stage at The Hollywood Bowl and subsequently moved to America, but were regular summer residents of Pevensey Bay over the years as they kept the house in Seaville Drive. They were joined over the years by a number of musicians, including Percy's fellow students from the “Frankfurt Group” of composers.

In the war years, they let their house to Cyril Scott, a composer once admired by Ravel and Debussy.

Percy and Ella pictured outside Otters Holt with Roger Quilter's chauffeur and car in the background

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