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Beauty and the beach

With its vast national park, countless chocolate-box hamlets and a picturesque stretch of coastline, it’s not difficult to see why West Sussex is one of England’s most appealing destinations for a UK-based villa holiday.

From beautiful beaches to the storied South Downs, West Sussex is a county of diverse landscapes. It’s also home to properties such as Hound Lodge, a luxurious 10-bedroom lodge at the heart of the Duke of Richmond’s 5,000-hectare estate, the famed Goodwood (which Edward VII described as “a garden party with racing tacked on”).

From redolent retreats like Hound Lodge, visitors to West Sussex can explore the pale blue shores of the south coast; age-old castles with immaculate gardens like Arundel; picturesque, historic towns like Midhurst and Petworth with their exciting slew of shops, cafes and galleries; and the rolling chalk hills of the South Downs.

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About West Sussex

Britain has an innate beauty that is worth exploring, and visiting West Sussex means white-sand beaches, dramatic landscapes, and stirring architecture. It is easy to combine with neighbouring Hampshire, but truth be told, you probably won’t want to venture outside the county lines.

The South Downs National Park was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966, and it was awarded National Park status in 2011. It extends for 100 kilometres through East Sussex, West Sussex and into neighbouring Hampshire. Not only some of England’s most jaw-dropping countryside, but the South Downs are also home to some of Britain’s earliest mines, barrows and hill fort. Remains date from the Bronze Age to World War II and everything in between.

Famed for its coast, West Sussex is blessed with more than 80 kilometres of shoreline to explore. West Wittering is known for its rolling dunes. East Wittering and Bracklesham Bay are pebbly perfection, and fossil hunters love scouring the shore of the latter. Selsey is famous for its stunning channel views across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight. Littlehampton’s award-winning East Beach is Britain’s longest. Climping is the top choice for dog lovers as four-legged friends are allowed to cavort here. Rustington beach is West Sussex’s most popular kite-surfing spot, while Goring-by-Sea attracts paddleboarders. Worthing’s beach is renowned for its rock-pooling, and while there don’t miss out on visiting the vibrant town with its impressive 1930s pier, which was voted pier of the year in 2019.

The chalky soil of the South Downs is similar to that of France’s Champagne region. This means that in West Sussex, some of the best English sparkling wines are produced. Vinophiles will love drinking in the vineyard views at wine-producing estates such as Tinwood or Upperton.

Arundel Castle, with its some 950 years of history, is home to the Duke of Norfolk but open to the public eight months of the year. History buffs will enjoy seeing the Norman Keep, medieval Gatehouse and Barbican, and Neo-Gothic house with its collection of artworks by masters such as Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto. Petworth House is a late 17th-century-listed country house that is in the care of the National Trust. It is surrounded by 283 hectares of landscaped park, which is home to the largest herds of fallow deer in England – as painted by J. M.W. Turner.

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