Sussex

Stansted Park House & Grounds, Hampshire

Stansted Park boasts 1,800 acres of stunning parkland, at the centre of which is a Grade II-listed Edwardian House. Set within the South Downs National Park on the Sussex/Hampshire border, the estate’s jigsaw of greenery provides a welcome bubble in which all can escape, while its array of attractions and events offer multi-generational entertainment. 

Stansted Estate has long been a feature of the verdant countryside in which it resides. Dating back many centuries, the estate’s original house was first used as a hunting lodge in the 11th Century, before a larger successor was built in the 17th Century. Sadly, in 1900 a fire broke out in the main house and the building was lost to flames, leaving room for the final building to be constructed 3 years later. It was then purchased by the 9th Earl of Bessborough in 1924, and it is this house, along with its contents, that you can still see today.

If you’ve never visited before, or if the weather has taken a little turn for the British, then a wander around Stansted House is a must. Left exactly as its last resident, the 10th Earl of Bessborough, intended, the house’s State Rooms invite you to step back in time and witness what life was really like for its residents. In striking comparison, the house’s pared-back Servant’s Quarters are also open to the public for viewing, providing a stark contrast to the fineries of ‘upstairs living’. With everything left in place, it really is like stepping through the backdoor of time.  

See the kitchen in its perfect state of organised chaos with its assortment of pots and pans, jelly moulds and pretty plates, and venture to the library to see the collection of old books and paper-strewn correspondence table. There’s even an old copy of the Times on an ironing board waiting to be crisped! Enhancing the experience, the house’s knowledgeable stewards bring the estate’s history to life as they guide you through each room, revealing secrets and insights into the daily running of this majestic house. 

Outdoors, in the 1,800-acre estate, there is plenty to explore. Open year-round, the grounds include a church, walled garden, arboretum, maze, Pavilion Tearoom, garden centre, farm shop and a miniature railway – all parcelled into one bucolic setting. The latter, the Stansted Light Railway, travels 850 yards through the estate’s parkland and forest and affords the opportunity to see the surroundings from a novel perspective. Featuring its own 12ft span girder bridge and mini station, it is a great attraction for all the family – especially younger children. 

The Grade I-listed Chapel of St Paul, which provided the famous poet John Keats with literary inspiration, is situated on the site of the estate’s first house and contains many interesting features including a Hebrew Tablets of the Ten commandments. The parkland itself, which includes 1,200 acres of ancient woodland, is also an attraction in its own right. Set within the South Downs National Park, the forest’s sweet chestnut trees have been traditionally coppiced here for hundreds of years. Focusing on sustainability, the wood is used to feed a bio-fuel woodchip boiler that heats the estate’s buildings, while the open parkland and woodland sustain a range of wildlife.

For more family-friendly fun, you can also tackle the superb Stansted Maze in the lower garden. Comprised of 500 2-meter-high yew trees, the circular maze was modelled on the target maze at Villa Pisani, Italy, and invites all generations to unleash their sense of adventure to make it to the middle – and back again! In the lower garden, you can also find giant games such as Jenga and chess, making this area a lovely spot to relax with the little ones. Finally, you may also be coincide your visit with one of the many events held throughout the year, so it’s worth checking the calendar. 

Feeling inspired? Have a look at our luxury cottages in Chichester here, just a short drive from Stanstead Park.

Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire, PO9 6DX | 02392 412 265 | www.stanstedpark.co.uk

Photo Credit © Stansted Park 

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