Places to go, things to do in West Sussex
Racing cars and thoroughbreds, a sculpture park and the South Downs Way, Chichester, Cowdray and country pubs, all housed within a West Sussex region, frequented by the Women’s’ Institute, jockeys, Ferrari and even Mr Bean himself.
Formerly a medieval kingdom, West Sussex is the western part of the historic county of Sussex. The county is in the south of England, bordering East Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey and the English Channel. It’s a destination packed with places to see and things to do – usually!
The 100 mile (160 Km) long South Downs Way follows the old routes along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs. This well-trodden long-distance footpath and bridleway runs through the county and route and is popular with hikers, walkers and riders. It is one of 16 National Trails in England and Wales
This historical city shows its age with its four main streets originally laid by the Romans and its surrounding walls and gateways. Chichester was established by Alfred the Great around 878-879 as one of the burhs (fortified towns) and where some parts of the Roman forum, houses and its public baths can still be seen and the 1.5-mile circuit of the walls can be tread on foot
This Cathedral city has a festival theatre and studio theatre, renowned for premieres of new works. The season runs between April and November. Many productions transfer to the West End. The Pallant House Gallery displays temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of British art. As for natural beauty, Bishop’s Palace Gardens provides great views of the Cathedral and houses a surviving Roman bastion.
Stately Home Grandeur
Home to the Dukes of Richmond for over 300 years, Goodwood is set amidst the Sussex Downs. The parkland of the Goodwood Estate provides a majestic backdrop to the stately home of Goodwood House. Today, Lord March owns the estate and is the 11th Duke of Richmond.
Goodwood House is a country house and estate covering 4,900 hectares, built in the 1600s and is a Grade I listed building. Its Regency State Apartments hold treasures such as paintings by Stubbs and Canaletto.
Other historic houses in the area include Uppark House & Gardens which is a National Trust property and Stansted House, set in 1800 acres of parkland and ancient forest within the South Downs National Park.
Motorbikes, Planes and Automobiles
Goodwood boasts an aerodrome which is open all year round with frequent sightings of Hurricanes and Harvards, Spitfires and ultra-modern Cessnas, taking off and coming in to land. This was originally known as RAF Westhampnett, a World War II airfield, where pilots were trained in fighter planes.
The thud of hooves, the spin of wheels while wings hover above, this is Goodwood with its million-dollar racing of horses, cars and motorbikes. Goodwood Race Track is a historic venue for both two-wheeled and four-wheeled motorsport in the United Kingdom. The 3.8 kilometres circuit completely encircles the airfield and dates from 1948 while the Goodwood house’s own hill climb course was first used in 1936.
Racing also brings together the best of modern and classic cars as well as motorbikes from around the world. Celebrated events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed, honours the world of motorsport with legends of Formula One and its teams from Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, while showcasing the latest supercars parading the circuit screaming and screeching from revving engines shrouded in clouds of dust.
It’s all about vintage at the Goodwood Revival. Here iconic race cars and bikes, furs & frocks, and gentlemen in tweeds and trilbies create the uniquely stylish atmosphere that sets the scene for this time warped historic motor event. Here you will witness Le Mans winners, British Touring Car Champions, Isle of Man TT winners as well as the famous faces and even Mr Bean racing around the track.
‘Glorious Goodwood’ is fashionable horse racing. Top jockeys, including of course, Frankie Dettori, and horse owners from all over the world congregate for this calendar event. Top hat and tails and designer outfits gather for a weeks racing. In total 19 days of racing take place at this racecourse between May and October. The Trundle Iron Age hill fort, which overlooks the sleepy hamlet of Charlton, is used as an informal grandstand with views of the whole course and a good spot for free viewing. Back in 1802 the 3rd Duke of Richmond introduced the sport as an amusement for local army officers and it remains a key part of Goodwood today.
English Sparkling Wine
English homegrown wine is becoming very popular and here the climate is kind to the vines of The Tinwood Estate’s vineyards at the foot of the South Downs National Park. Since the first planting in 2007, Tinwood has quickly established a reputation for producing English sparkling wines including The Estate Brut, the Blanc de Blancs and a Rosé. Their vineyard tours allow visitors to taste the various wines and to learn more about the process.
Anything to Repair?
The BBC’s Repair Shop at the Weald & Downland Living Museum has brought international acclaim to the area and to the museum itself. Historic buildings which include a replica Anglo-Saxon Hall house, Edwardian tin church and a privy attract families to explore across its 40 acres. Here stories reveal those who lived and worked in this rural area for over 1,000 years. The museum runs a varied programme of demonstrations to include its 17th century working watermill and cooking in the Tudor kitchen.
More than a cuppa for the Women’s’ Institute
The popularity of the country pub, The Fox Goes Free, can be traced back to 1915 when it reserved a table for the first Women’s Institute meeting in England on 15th November. It also lays claim as the refreshment stop for William 111 of England and the royal hunting party during his reign from 1689 to 1702. This grade II listed pub in the hamlet of Charlton is a 17th-century flint building with original features and takes its name from the Charlton Hunt which was started in 1670. And for those fans of Dr Who, the episode “Terror of the Zygons” was filmed in its bar.
With lockdown still in place and international travel curtailed, now is the time to plan your future travels to this active and attractive region of England that is West Sussex.