Sussex

The Top Five Historic Places to Visit in Sussex

From castles and palaces to old inns and manor houses, Sussex boasts an unusually large amount of historic places to visit, spanning an era from the Knights Templar through to the First World War, here's our top five must-visits when staying in a luxury cottage in Sussex.

Arundel Castle

Built in the 11th Century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, this imposing castle boasts nearly 1,000 years of history. With stunning views over rolling countryside and the River Arun, the Norman Keep, medieval Gatehouse and Barbican survives from its earliest times, whilst most of it was rebuilt between the 1870s and 1890s in the Gothic style. Today, you can wander through this amazing edifice, where you’ll discover finely preserved interiors with gorgeous furniture, tapestries, and artwork by the likes of Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto. Step outside and the extensive gardens are just lovely with award-winning tropical and English gardens, from the impressive Kitchen Garden and Rose Garden to the glass houses filled with lemons and grapes. The castle is also host to lots of events, such as the International Medieval Jousting Tournament which takes place in July, and the Festival of History in August. The castle and gardens are open from 1st April to 31st October. Closed on Mondays, except bank holidays and in August.

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Petworth House and Park

Erected in the Baroque style in the 17th century, this magnificent house is home to one of the finest collections of art in the care of the National Trust. Nestled in a 700-acre deer park, its home to artwork by Van Dyck, Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough, as well as quirky artifacts such as the earliest English globe in existence, dating to 1592. All collected over 900 years by the same family, it’s a unique look through history with highlights being the Gunpowder Plot and Napoleonic Wars. Meanwhile, step into the historic kitchens and you’ll get a fascinating glimpse in to life in the servant’s quarters, whilst the Pleasure Garden and Deer Park (transformed in the 18th century by Capability Brown) are well worth a visit. Open daily, but check the website for opening times.

 

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Parham House and Gardens

Built by Robert Palmer of Henfield after the land was granted to him by Henry VIII, Parham House is a fabulous example of an Elizabethan manor house with a stunning Great Hall and Long Gallery. In the same family for eleven generations, it was fully restored between the 1920s and 1930s by a new family, the Pearsons. Housing a precious collection of furniture, paintings, books, textiles and clocks dating from the 17th century onwards, there’s a focus on needlework and tapestry that’s unparalleled. Outside, there are seven acres of pleasure gardens and a four-acre walled garden (said to predate the house, likely as far back as the 14th Century) to explore. Open Easter through to early October, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. Do check the website just in case.

 

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The Royal Pavillion, Brighton

The splendid seaside pleasure palace for King George IV in the heart of bustling Brighton, this amazing building that dates back 200 years cleverly mixes Regency grandeur with the styles of India and China. Encapsulating the frivolous and often scandalous lifestyle of the monarch, the king’s presence brough much to Brighton including a booming population, from around three and a half thousand people in 1786 to over forty in 1831. At times serving as a civic building and a hospital during the First World War, it’s a fascinating and unusual place to visit that undertook major restoration during the last century. It’s well worth a visit when exploring Brighton for its collection of art and furniture, including examples of the Chinoiserie style and pieces lent by The Queen. Open daily, but times are varied dependent on the time of year, so please check the website.

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Uppark House and Garden

In a beautiful setting on South Downs ridge, Uppark boasts the most wonderful views right across to the English Channel. Built in the 17th Century, it’s a stunning example of Georgian living with the gardens gradually being brought back to life in line with their original 19th century design. Suffering an unfortunate fire in 1989, today it is decorated in exquisite French furniture, Dutch porcelain, and Italian paintings, it’s a fabulous glimpse into upper class living, whilst the servants’ quarters and tunnels below tell the story of life below stairs. Interestingly, the novelist H.G Wells’ mother was once a housekeeper here. Due to its elevated position, it can be closed at short notice if the weather is bad, so do call ahead just in case. Uppark Park is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the garden, café and second-hand bookshop open Thursday to Monday. The house is open on Saturdays and Sundays only.

Uppark House and Garden | National Trust

 

St Mary’s House and Gardens

With its origins dating back to the Knights Templar in 1125, the present building was built in around 1450 by the Bishop of Winchester and founder of Magdalen College, Oxford as an inn for pilgrims on their way to the tomb of St Thomas of Canterbury. With a fascinating selection of owners, the house has beautiful, panelled rooms, including an Elizabethan trompe l’oeil painted room, that’s been the inspiration for such literary greats as Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In addition, there are five acres of gardens to explore, with such highlights as the Ginkgo Biloba ‘living fossil’ tree. Animal topiary, rose garden, circular English Poetry Garden and the ‘secret’ garden with original Victorian fruit wall and pineapple pits. Open on Sundays and Thursdays between May and September, and certain Wednesdays in August – do check their website for opening times.

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