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Touring East and West Sussex

Brighton Pavilion by Barbara Ballard Historic houses and gardens are the highlights of Sussex. The coast is heavily settled with Brighton being the best known of its towns. There are historic buildings, pricey shops, and piers. But it is the Royal Pavillion that attracts the most attention. The elaborate palace was built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV, by John Nash. The building was begun by Henry Holland and transformed by John Nash into one reminiscent of Indian style with a Chinese style interior. It is over-the-top both inside and out with exotic décor and furnishings.

Beachy Head by Barbara Ballard Much of East Sussex lies in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are five country parks, the fascinating South Downs, and the South Downs Way, a long distance coastal path, to explore. The Downs is an attractive area of rolling hills, river valleys, and small villages. Beachy Head is a dramatic site. It sits at the highest point of the coastland with stunning views from its crumbling chalk cliffs.

Weald and Downland Museum Houses by Barbara Ballard Forty-five historic buildings, dating from the 13th to 19th century, are set in 50 acres at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. Gardens, farm animals, a lake, and woodland walk complete the picture. The buildings were dismantled at their original site and rebuilt at the open air museum. They include a Hampshire market hall, a timber framed Kent farmhouse, a medieval shop and many more. A number of the interiors are furnished. There’s a working water mill and Tudor kitchen. It’s an entertaining family day out.

Chichester, a Roman town, offers Fishbourne Roman Palace, a guildhall, and a Norman cathedral. The Roman palace was built c AD75. The mosaics, in their original place, are considered some of England’s finest. A museum displays many archaeological finds, and visitors can learn the details of the site via an AV program. There is also a museum of Roman gardening.

Hastings, a former cinque port, offers typical Victorian English seaside activities with a five-mile long shingle beach. Visit Hastings castle, a ruined Norman one, the local museum and art gallery, and the Fisherman’s museum.

Battle Abbey by Barbara Ballard Possibly the most historically well-known site in Sussex is at Battle where, in 1066, the Normans under William the Conqueror overcame the Saxons and their king Harold. The abbey, now ruined, on the site was constructed by William as a penance. There is a museum about monastic life in the gatehouse, and an audio tour guide for the battlefield. Pevensey Castle, a Saxon stronghold, was where William first landed in England. Within the remaining walls is an unusual keep. The historic St Mary the Virgin church in the town has a Norman font, rare 14th century wall paintings and an alabaster tomb. A museum of local history has displays on Battle and its industrial past. Pick up a town trail guide.

Arundel Castle by Barbara Ballard Arundel Castle, built at the end of the 11th century and home to the Dukes of Norfolk, looks down from a hillside on its accompanying town by the river Arun. Much of the present building modernization dates from 1847. The site also holds a Norman keep, a private chapel, and gardens. Furniture, paintings, tapestries, stained glass, china, clocks, armour are noteworthy. The cathedral in the town is in the French Gothic style.

Bodiam Castle by Barbara Ballard Another grand Sussex castle is moated Bodiam, built in 1385. The exterior has survived the ravages of the years, thus giving a picture of how it would have looked at the time. Sadly, the interior is a ruin, although it is possible to climb a spiral staircase. A video on the castle can be watched.

Bateman’s was the home of the author Ruyard Kipling for over 30 years beginning in 1902. Built in 1634, the sandstone house is located in the weald area of Sussex. Kipling’s study is on view along with many mementos, a rose garden, a corn mill, and one of the author’s Rolls Royces.

Charleston is another artistic hangout—this one a favourite of the Bloomsbury set. Virginia Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell, was a painter and lived here with two other artists, Duncan Grant and writer David Garnett. Bell decorated the furniture, walls, and ceramics and put mosaics in the garden.

Pooh Bridge sign by Barbara Ballard Winnie-the-Pooh is Sussex’s most famous literary character. Here you will find the Hundred Acre Wood (Ashdown Forest) and Pooh Bridge. Cotchfield farm by the village of Hartfield was where Milne’s famous tales were hatched. The village shop, ‘Pooh Corner’ caters to memorabilia lovers.

Firle Place by the Sussex Downs was first a Tudor house but was remodelled in the 18th century to look like a French chateau. Old Master paintings, English and European furniture, and Sèvres porcelain enhance the interior.

Alfriston Clergy House by Barbara Ballard Less grand but still of interest is 14th century thatched hall house, Alfriston Clergy House, sitting on the large village green. It’s a museum of domestic country furniture, kitchen equipment, needlework, and household items. Outside there is a formal herb garden containing over 150 culinary, medicinal and folklore herbs.

The Priest House by Barbara Ballard The Priest House is a 15th century timber-framed house whose original open hall was divided in Elizabethan times with a chimney. The furnishings are mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries. Local history information, domestic iron work, and other bygones are in the musuem that stands in a traditional English garden.

Michelham Priory by Barbara Ballard Michelham Priory sits on a medieval moated island. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the priory was used as the basis of a Tudor farmhouse. In the grounds are a 14th century gatehouse, watermill, cloister garden, and Elizabethan great barn.

17th century Uppark House burned down in 1989 and has had its ground floor restored. All the contents were saved as the house was open, and everyone helped empty it when the fire began. A very detailed and interesting exhibition on the fire, restoration of the house and techniques used is in a separate building. In each room of the house is a photo showing its appearance after the fire. The difference is amazing. There is an extensive below-stairs area of interest.

Parham House by Barbara Ballard Parham House and Gardens, set in a deer park, is an Elizabethan mansion of great beauty. Of particular interest is the outstanding long gallery and great hall. The garden has won awards, and its fresh flowers brighten the house’s rooms.

Goodwood House’s claim to fame is its connection with the Goodwood racecourse. The early 1900s home was the setting for race week house parties that included royal guests and high society members. It’s part of a tradition since the days when the 1st Duke of Richmond, son of Charles II, and his French mistress, Louise de Keroualle, put on the best in entertainment. French furniture and Sèvres porcelain are on show.

Another Edwardian country home, Preston Manor, has both ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ rooms on show—more than 20 altogether. A walled garden, pet cemetery, and 13th century parish church complete the picture.

Petworth House and Park by Barbara Ballard Petworth House, a Jacobean house, sits in 700 acres of park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. The state rooms have a large art collection by Turner, Gainsborough, Reynolds and others. There are pieces of furniture and porcelain and limewood carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The servants’ quarters give a picture of the kitchens of the past.

Standen House by Barbara Ballard Standen was built in the 1890s, and is considered to be a showpiece of the Arts and Crafts Movement. It has a real family home feeling. Inside are William Morris carpets, fabric, and wallpaper. Outside is a hillside garden and woodland walks.

Nyman's Garden by Barbara Ballard Sussex’s gardens include Leonardeslee, one of the largest woodland gardens in England. In its 200 years of existence, it has become a showplace for rhododendrons and azaleas that frame seven lakes. There is a rock garden, a collection of Bonsai, deer, and wild wallabies. Nyman’s has the haunting ruin of a burned out mansion to enhance its rare plant collection. (Unfortunately it was sold in 2010 and is now closed to the public.)

Great Dixter by Barbara Ballard Great Dixter's Gardens were developed by Christopher Lloyd, a gardening author. The outstanding feature is the timber-framed hall in the house. It is the largest surviving one in the country.

Sheffield Park Garden’s 120 acres holds four lakes, a product of landscape gardener ‘Capability Brown’. In the spring there are snowdrops, bluebells, daffodils, rhododendrons, and azaleas. Rare trees and shrubs give autumn colour to the walks.

Wakehurst Place Gardens by Barbara Ballard Wakehurst is an extension of the Royal Botanic Garden and is often called ‘Kew in the Country’. Gardens include a water, a rock, and a walled garden. There are collections of exotic shrubs and trees. The garden is set in the Lodor Valley Nature Reserve—permission needed to enter. A former country home is located in the grounds.

Borde Hill woodland walk by Barbara Ballard Borde Hill Garden garden, in the high weald of Sussex, covers over 150 acres of traditional parkland including woodland, lakes, and gardens. Borde Hill House, in the grounds, was built in the 1580s by Stephen Borde, a physician and grandson of Andrew Borde, who was one of Henry VIII’s courtiers.

East and West Sussex Attractions

East Sussex Attractions

Alfriston Clergy House (NT)
The Tye, Alfriston
Tel. 0 1323 870 001

Ashdown Forest Llama Park
Wych Cross, Forest Row, Ashdown Forest
On the A22, 5 miles south of East Grinstead
Tel. 0 1825 712 040

Bateman’s (NT)
Burwash, Etchingham
Tel. 0 1435 882 302

Battle of Hasting Battlefield and Abbey (EH)
Tel. 0 1424 773 792

Bodiam Castle (NT)
Bodiam near Robertsbridge
Tel. 01580 830436

Bognor Regis Museum
69 High St, Bognor Regis
Tel. 0 1243 865 636

Camber Castle
One mile by foot across fields off A259, one mile south of Rye, off Harbour Rd
Tel. 0 1797 223 862

Charleston House
Charleston near Firle
Tel. 0 1323 811 265
See photos and full details in our article Charleston
Web: Charleston

Crowlink and Birling Gap
Five miles west of Eastbourne, south of Friston via East Dean to Beachy Head road linking A259 and B2103
Tel. 0 1323 871 318

De La Ware Pavillion
Bexhill, a few miles south of Battle
Tel. 0 1424 787 949

Drusillas Park
Alfriston Rd, Alfriston
Tel. 0 1323 874 100

Eastbourne Pier
Grand Parade, Eastbourne
Tel. none given

Firle Place (HHA)
Firle, Lewes
Tel. 0 1273 858 307

Great Dixter House and Gardens (HHA)
Northiam, near Rye
Tel. 0 1797 252 878
For photos and more information see our article Great Dixter Gardens
Web: Great Dixter

Herstmonceux Castle
Tel. 0 1323 832 731
Web: Herstmonceux Castle

Hundred Acre Wood
Ashdown Forest, near the village of Hartfield
Tel. NA

Lewes Castle and Barbican House Museum
169 High St, Lewes
Tel. 0 1273 486 290

Michelham Priory (HHA)
Upper Dicker, Hailsham
Tel. 0 1323 844 224

Pashley Manor Gardens
On the B2099 between A21 and Ticehurst village, south of Tunbridge Wells
Tel. 0 1580 200 888

Pevensey Castle (EH)
Tel. 0 1323 762 604

Preston Manor
Preston Drove, Brighton
Tel. 0 1273 292 770

St Mary the Virgin Church
High St, Westham, East Sussex
Tel. 0 1323 762 294

Saint Nicholas Church
Church Lane, Pevensey, East Sussex
Tel. 0 1323 762 247

Sheffield Park Garden (NT)
Sheffield Park, between East Grinstead and Lewes
Tel. 0 1825 790 231
Open: various days and times; check National Trust website for details

Stone Cross Windmill
Beggars Lane, Stone Cross, Pevensey, East Sussex
Tel. 0 5601 603 298

West Sussex Attractions

Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre
Amberley, Arundel, on the B2139 next to railway station
Tel. 0 1798 831 370
Web: Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre

Arundel Castle
Arundel, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1903 883 136
Web: Arundel Castle

Arundel Cathedral
Parsons Hill, Arundel
Tel. 0 1903 882 297
Web: Arundel Cathedral

Arundel Wetland Centre
Mill Rd, Arundel
Tel 0 1903 883 355

Bignor Roman Villa
Six miles north of Arundel, signposted from A29 and A285
Tel. 0 1798 869 259
Web: Bignor Roman Villa

Bluebell Railway
Sheffield Park
Tel. 0 1825 720 825 (timetable); 0 1825 720 800 (enquiries)
Web: Bluebell Railway

Borde Hill Garden
Haywards Heath
Tel. 0 1444 450 326
For photos and details see our article Borde Hill Garden and Borde Hill Garden Sculptures
Web: Borde Hill

Boxgrove Priory
The Street, Boxgrove
Tel. 0 1243 774 045

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton
Tel. 0 1273 290 900/292 882

Buchan Country Park
Horsham Rd, near Crawley
Tel. 0 1293 542 088

Chichester Cathedral
Tel. 0 1243 782 595
Web: Chichester Cathedral

Chichester District Museum
29 Little London, Chichester
Tel. 0 1243 784 683

Cissbury Ring
1.5 miles east of Findon off A24; 3 miles north of Worthing
Tel. 0 1243 814 554 or 0 1903 740 233 (warden)

Cowdray Historic House and Ancient Monument
Cowdray Park, Midhurst
Tel. 0 1730 810 781

Crawley Museum Centre
Goffs Park House, Old Horsham Rd, Crawley
Tel. 0 1293 539 088

Cuckfield Museum
Queens Hall, High St, Cuckfield
Tel. 0 1444 473 630

Devil’s Dyke Estate
Five miles north-west of Brighton
Tel. 0 1243 814 554

East Grinstead Museum
Old Market Yard, Cantelupe Road, East Grinstead
Tel. 0 1342 302 233
Web: East Grinstead Museum

Fishbourne Roman Palace
Salthill Rd, Fishbourne, Chichester, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1243 785 859

Goodwood House (HHA)
Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1243 755 048
Web: Goodwood House

Priory Park, Chichester, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1243 784 683

Harting Down (NT)
Five miles south-east of Petersfield; park off B2141 south of South Harting village, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1243 814 554

Henfield Museum
Henfield Hall, Cooper’s Way, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1273 492 546

High Beeches Garden
High Beeches Lane, Handcross, West Sussex
One mile east of the A23, on the south side of the B2110
Tel: 0 1444 400 589
Web: High Beeches

Holmbush Farm World
Faygate, near Horsham, West Sussex
Off the A264
Tel. 0 1293 851 110

Horsham Museum
9 The Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1403 254 959
Web: Horsham Museum

Ifield Watermill
Hyde Drive, Ifield, Crawley, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1293 539 088

Jill Windmill
Clayton, W Sussex
From Pyecombe village, south of Burgess Hill, follow the A273 north, turn off onto lane
Tel. none given
Web: Jack and Jill Windmill Society

Lancing College Chapel
Tel. 0 1273 465 949
Web: Lancing College

Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens
Lower Beeding, Horsham, West Sussex
Tel. 0 1403 891 212
Gardens closed in 2010 when sold but see our photos and more information at Beyond the Dolls House and Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens

Littlehampton Museum
Manor House, Church St, Littlehampton
Tel. 0 1903 738 100

Look and See Heritage and Visitor Center
Fisherman’s Quay, 63-65 Surrey St, Littlehampton
Tel. 0 1903 718 984; 0 1903 721 866 (Visitor Information Centre)

Marlipins Museum
36 High St, Shoreham-by-Sea
Tel. 0 1273 462 994 or 0 1323 441 279

Nymans Garden (NT)
Handcross, Haywards Heath
Tel. 0 1444 400 321/405 250
Open: varying times and dates; check National Trust website or phone for details

Oldland Windmill
Oldlands Lane, Hassocks
Tel. not given
Web: Oldland Windmill

Pallant House Gallery
Tel. 0 1243 774 557
Web: Pallant House Gallery

Parham House and Gardens (HHA)
Parkham Park near Pulborough
Tel. 0 1903 744 888
Web: Parham House and Gardens

Petworth House (NT)
Tel. 0 1798 342 207; info-line 0 1798 343 929
For photos and more information see our article Petworth House

Petworth Cottage Museum
346 High St, Petworth
Tel. 0 1798 342 100
Web: Petworth Cottage Museum

Priest’s House
North Lane, West Hoathly
Tel. 0 1342 810 479

Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve
Wiggonholt, Pulborough
Tel. 0 1798 875 851

Royal Pavilion
Tel. 0 1273 290 900

Sackville College
East Grinstead
Tel. 0 1342 326 561

Saint Hill Manor
East Grinstead
Tel. 0 1342 326 711
Web: Saint Hill Manor

Shipley Windmill
Eight miles south-west of Horsham
Tel. N/A (view from footpath only)
Web: Shipley Windmill

St Mary’s House and Gardens
Tel. 0 1903 816 205
Web: St Mary’s House and Gardens

Standen House (NT)
West Hoathley Rd, 2 miles south of East Grinstead
Tel. 0 1342 323 029
Open: various hours; check National Trust website for details

Stansted Park House
Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle, Stansted Park Rd
Tel. 023 9241 2265
Web: Stansted Park and House

Steyning Museum
Church St, Steyning
Tel. 0 1903 813 333
Web: Steyning Museum

Tangmere Military Aviation Museum
Tangmere, three miles east of Chichester
Tel. 0 1243 790 090
Web: Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

Tulleys Farm
Turners Hill, Crawley
Off the B2110 or M23
Tel. 0 1342 718 472 (general farm enquiries); 0 1342 715365 (specific enquiries)
Web: Tulleys Farm

Uppark House and Garden (NT)
South Harting on the B2146, near Petersfield
Tel. 0 1730 825 415

Wakehurst Place (NT)
Ardingly, Haywards Heath
Tel. 0 1444 894 066
Open, daily, Feb and Oct, 10am-5pm; March until 6pm; April-end Sep, until 7pm; Nov-end Jan until 4pm

Warnham Nature Reserve
Warnham Rd, Horsham
On the B2237
Tel. 0 1403 256 890

Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Singleton, Chichester, PO18 0EU
Tel. 0 1243 811 348
Web: Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

West Dean Gardens
Six miles north of Chichester, on the A286
Tel. 0 1243 818 210
Web: url=]West Dean Gardens[/url]

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery
Chapel Rd, Worthing
Tel. 0 1903 239 999

East Sussex Tourist Information Centres

Battle Abbey
High Street
Tel. 0 1424 773 721

51 Marina
Tel. 0 1424 732 208

10 Bartholomew Square
Tel. 0 906 711 255

Cornfield Road
Tel. 0 1323 411 400

Hastings (Old Town)
The Stade, Old Town
Tel. 0 1424 781 111

Hastings (Queens Square)
Priory Meadow, Hastings
Tel. 0 1424 781 111

187 High St.
Tel. 0 1273 483 448

25 Clinton Place
Tel. 0 1323 897 426

Sussex Country North
Ashdown Forest Llama Park
Wych Cross, Forest Row, E. Sussex
Tel. 0 1825 713 862 or 0 1323 442 667

Sussex Country South
Boship Roundabout on A22
Lower Dicker, Hailsham, E. Sussex
Tel. 0 1323 442 667

West Sussex Tourist Information Centres

61 High Street
Tel. 0 1903 882 268

Bognor Regis
Belmont St
Tel. 0 1243 823 140

Burgess Hill
96 Church Walk
Tel. 0 1444 247 726

29a South Street
Tel. 0 1243 775 888

Visitor Information Point, County Mall
Tel. 0 1293 846 968

9 The Causeway
Tel. 0 1403 211 661

Windmill Complex
Tel. 0 1903 713 480

North Street
Tel. 0 1730 817 322

Market Square
Tel. 0 1798 343 523

Chapel Road
Tel. 0 1903 221 307 or 221 168

Marine Parade
Tel. 0 1903 221 307 or 221 168

Photos by Barbara Ballard

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Some of our Sussex Articles
Petworth House
Beyond the Dolls House
Borde Hill Garden
Borde Hill Garden Sculptures
Leonardslee Lakes and Garden
Wakehurst Place Gardens
Michelham Priory
Pashley Manor Gardens, East Sussex
Great Dixter Gardens, Sussex
Other England Articles

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