This October I planned an impromptu visit to the U.K. to visit friends and explore for a weekend in West Sussex. If you follow me you will know I can’t pass up a deal and when EasyJet was having a £15 roundtrip airfare from Stuttgart to Gatwick (London) I had to jump on it. My daughter, Jessica has friends who live in southern England so she flew along with me ~ sleep-overs sure have changed since I was a kid.
I had an opportunity to meet up with my friend Frances, who has done quite a bit of traveling with me in the last few years. She just moved to England herself, she jumped at the chance to explore for a weekend in West Sussex. It didn’t take a lot to convince her. We are travel twins separated by birth (both Alabama girls – one by birth, one by transplant.)
We chose a lovely B&B guesthouse in Petworth, Kilsham Farm. Here we met B&B owners, Liz and Phil. Their warmth and hospitality made it feel like we were staying with long-lost friends for the weekend. Our room was exquisite with views of the sheep-filled pasture, chickens and roosters romping around the yard.
We woke to fresh bread being made every morning and breakfast to order. My favorite was grilled mushrooms, scrambled eggs and a slab of bacon ~ YUM! Like real country bacon too. Expertly decorated, their B&B was flawless and our bedroom and bath were spacious and comfortable.
Traveling the country road to the B&B made me homesick for my childhood home in northern New York. Passing farm after farm only to be met with small little hamlets (towns) with a few stores, pubs and restaurants all filled with locals. The pastoral tranquil oasis in this hidden treasure of England is absolutely worth sharing.
Good Eats – Angel Inn, Petworth
On our first night in Petworth, Liz recommended the Angel Inn, not too far from the B&B and delicious.
I love exploring towns at night, as long as I am with someone – safety first. Luckily, my girl Frances is all about capturing spooky streets and dark alleys in an old English town.
Things to do in West Sussex
The original castle of Arundel was opened on Christmas day 1067 by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel. The Earl was one of William the Conqueror‘s loyal barons. He was awarded one-third of Sussex with promises to build a castle. The castle was to be part intimidating fortress and residence. Mostly to protect the land and people from attack from the south and the sea. This castle has been home to the dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for almost 1000 years.
This magnificent castle was bustling with activity on the day we arrived. The castle staff and performance team were preparing for a medieval fighting demonstration. Frances and I happily paid for the extra to see the show, palace and staterooms. A. tour of just the gardens are available as well.
Planning your trip
- The Castle is closed for six months (as it is still a residence) Oct 29 to Apr 1
- Private tours are available
- Tulip festival every year in the gardens (which were beautiful in the fall also)
Archery demonstration – lots of fun!
Biscuits and tea in England
Next, we decided to walk the town. The town of Arundel had small restaurants, antique shops, and more~ so why not? We stopped in for some tea and scones at Belinda’s 16th Century Tea Room. This precious tea room tucked away on a side street drew us in it looked so cozy and inviting. Our tea and scones just hit the spot for a mid-day treat!
REMINDER ~ some restaurants close down in the UK around 2 p.m. for a few hour rest (similar to France) so you’ll want to catch a bite to eat before this – although we found many restaurants to open back up again around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. (reservations are recommended for dinner.) Incidentally, even for just Frances and myself, such a small party, we needed a reservation. The quaint pubs and eateries do not have huge dining halls or all you can eat buffets.
Chichester in West Sussex
Next, we made our way to Chichester ~ less than thirty minutes from Petworth we headed off to another adventure, what a weekend! Chichester is considered a cathedral town, a town centered around faith. It has historical roots dating back to the Roman Empire. Today in West Sussex it is a bustling little city and college town that also serves as its’ county seat.
If you visit the church, free tours of the Cathedral are given every day from 11:15 to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Our lovely guide, Alan was a perfect docent with wit, facts, and humor. British humor, which is a little like slightly sarcasm, also my second language. This is as much an art museum as it is a church. Frances and I were amazed at the stained glass artwork, tapestries, and mosaics that line the walls of the church.
Alan regaled us with stories of the church’s history. The difficulty with the construction of the magnificent spire, a fire, and more. Don’t miss the tour. Cathedral construction began in 1076 after a decree which said larger populations in England need a cathedral and not just a church. It is a breathtaking place of worship and I was grateful to hear all of the amazing histories.
Although many museums in the U.K. are free consider making a donation. It doesn’t have to be much, something though. Alan told us it costs about £3000 a day to maintain the church.
Great finds! Sparkling wine
Traveling with my sweet friend Frances we always seem to happen upon a little good luck ~ on our way to Chichester she spotted a wine-tasting at Tinwood Winery. By the time we arrived, it was later in the afternoon and we thought, let’s do it! Wine in England…never heard of it ~ let’s GO!
It was a very nice tasting with several kinds of cheese and sparkling white and rose wines (like Prosecco and Sekt.) More sparkling wines in Europe also not allowed to be called Champagne, as they are not grown in France, in the Champagne region. The sea waters just off the coast of eastern England help to create a distinctive taste. (It’s a good idea to make a reservation though) We didn’t get the 411 on that as we just saw a road sign and hopped in. This is a little different from the States. In England, it is encouraged to make reservations for just about everything. So if you catch a sign like that – probably best to call first.
My girl Frances also loves the sea – so being so close to the English Channel we just needed to go find a beach ~ Bognor Regis was the closest we could find.
This seaside resort town was not crowded in October just chilly. Of course, it didn’t stop us from enjoying the beach and taking in the sounds or the boardwalk.
This wasn’t even EVERYTHING we did but our weekend in West Sussex was definitely unforgettable. We are a crazy bunch of traveling girls! I’ll have to save the rest for a return trip to Sussex. Up next for Frances and me is a trip to Venice, Italy for Carnivale ~ yet another adventure!
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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