Sussex, Unwind and enjoy the history
Sussex is a great place to visit and explore at any time of year, and especially if you are a keen visitor to gardens, historic homes and castles. It is home to many interesting places to visit with some of the best known garden attractions in south east England, along with a number of delightful stately homes and ancient castles.
If there is one place in West Sussex which captures the very essence of the county's heritage, it is the town of Arundel; located inside the Arun Valley, alongside its namesake, the Arun River, which nestles between the South Coast and the South Downs National Park.At its heart is the famed and inconic Arundel Castle, one of the longest inhabited country houses in England.
Set in 40 acres of sweeping grounds and gardens, this towering stately home and fortified medieval castle is one of the treasure houses of England and home to priceless works of art including a rare collection of paintings by renowned artists including Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto.
Arundel Castle has opened its doors to visitors seasonally for nearly 200 years and today you will find a truly fine collection of furniture, the aforementioned collection of art, clocks, tapestries, and stained glass, china and clocks, sculpture and carving, heraldry and armour, including personal possessions of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The same can be said for the numerous other gardens and heritage properties in the region. For example, Borde Hill Garden is a beautiful Grade II English Heritage garden, set in 200 acres of parkland and woodland with magnificent views across the Ouse Valley. Created by Colonel Stephenson Robert Clarke from seeds gathered by the great plant hunters of the early 1900s, this is a garden of many different moods with individual themed 'rooms', sub-tropical dells and stunning old-fashioned roses.
Enjoy a visit to Sheffield Park in East Sussex, the garden is a horticultural work of art formed through centuries of landscape design, with influences of 'Capability' Brown and Humphry Repton. Four lakes form the heart of the garden, with paths circulating through the glades and wooded areas surrounding them. Each owner has left their impression, which can still be seen today in the layout of the lakes, the construction of Pulham Falls, the planting of Palm Walk and the many different tree and shrub species from around the world.
The historic parkland forms a larger footprint for the Sheffield Park estate. Dating back several centuries, it has had many uses including a deer park and WWII camp, and is now grazed with livestock and home to our natural woodland play trail in Ringwood Toll. The River Ouse runs across the bottom of the parkland and the original meanders are still visible winding across the meadow. This area has been transformed into a wildlife haven and is home to a diverse range of species including kingfishers, birds of prey, butterflies, and dragonflies.
Nestled between Chichester and Portsmouth and part of the South Downs National Park, Stansted Park stands in 1800 acres of extraordinary landscaped parkland and ancient forest. The earliest records of inhabitants on the estate date back to medieval times when the grounds were used for hunting and royalty frequented the Park. King Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and King John have all been known to have visited the forest.
In 1900 a devastating fire tore through the house leaving nothing but the original vaulted crypt. The house was painstakingly rebuilt over the following three years on the exact footprint of the old house and was purchased in 1924 by the Earls of Bessborough who spent the next sixty years here with their families, enjoying all the house and estate had to offer.
In 1983 the 10th Earl of Bessborough made the decision to give Stansted Park, the Arboretum, his family home and its beautiful contents to the public.
Today visitors to the Park can enjoy seasonal tours of this splendid mansion as well as being able to use the grounds and forest free of charge throughout the year. This public space includes the walled gardens with its tearoom, farm shop, garden centre, maze and miniature railway. The house hosts stunning weddings, prestigious business meetings and seminars and is home to some of the best events in the south.