Whilst there are dozens of things to do in Chichester, cast your net a little wider, and you’ll also find there are dozens more things to do near Chichester too, with everything from racing cars and aeroplanes to gin schools, art classes and sublime gardens.
Goodwood House, Park and Aerodrome
The name Goodwood encompasses a multitude of things to do. There is Goodwood Racecourse perched on the South Downs for horseracing fans and there is Goodwood Aerodrome a little further south where they offer a number of flying experiences: flying lessons, helicopter rides, spitfire flights and adrenaline flights.
At the main Goodwood Estate, they have Goodwood Hotel (with its outstanding restaurant Farmer, Butcher, Chef), or you can sample afternoon tea in the main house and home of the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon. Alternatively, indulge in some fine dining at the prestigious Kennels.
Goodwood also has a golf course, a spa and a fantastic calendar of events which includes the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Motorsport and the Goodwood Revival. A short distance from Goodwood is the Trundle, a well-known beauty spot (particularly famous for its poppies) and also the site of an iron age fort. It has fantastic views towards the sea and Chichester Harbour and it’s always worth a trundle up the trundle.
Fishbourne Roman Palace
Owned by The Sussex Archaeological Society, Fishbourne is on the site of a Roman villa and one of Britain’s most important Roman sites (built in about AD 75), which was unearthed in the 1960s. It includes incredible mosaic floors, art, sculpture and gems and gives you a real sense of what a huge (it had over 100 rooms), stunning and luxurious palace it must have been with its formal gardens and audience chamber.
West Dean Gardens
North of Chichester and north west of Goodwood are West Dean Gardens. There have been beautiful gardens here since 1622. Following the great storm of 1987, a substantial transformation project was undertaken and today you can walk through the 100-metre Edwardian pergola, delve into the walled kitchen garden, reflect in the Spring Garden with its bridges, benches and ponds, descend to the Sunken Garden, warm up in the Victorian glasshouses or walk in amongst the trees in the Arboretum.
West Dean also offers a number of short courses which include drawing and painting, photography, jewellery making, blacksmithing, mosaics, carving, silversmithing, masonry, printmaking, woodcraft and so much more. Well worth a look for any creatives.
Kingley Vale and Ashling Park
North west of Chichester is Ashling Park, a relatively young but award-winning vineyard. They offer tours and tastings, have a fabulous restaurant, luxury cabin accommodation, and joys of joy, a gin school! Just a short walk north of the estate is Kingley Vale, a nature reserve and yew woodland area where some of the trees are believed to be 500 years old. It’s spooky, fascinating, weird and wild in equal measure.
Weald and Downland Museum
Currently best known for hosting the BBC series The Repair Shop, the Weald & Downland Living Museum has a fantastic collection of old buildings, demonstrations and activities to bring history alive. On a 40-acre site, during the summer there is a programme of daily activities and crafts that changes weekly, including nature trails, orienteering, singing and puzzles. Things to see include historic buildings such as the working watermill, bakehouse and Victorian school, and the outdoor theatre events featuring family favourites such as Awful Aunty, Peter Rabbit, and The Wind in the Willows.
They also have a Wonderful Weeks programme which includes the likes of traditional games and pastimes, shadow puppets, nature trails, craft boats and stick challenges, and activities like hoop and stick, egg and spoon distance challenges, memory games, hop scotch, and the singing kettle challenge. This is a great place to visit for those with children or grandchildren to entertain over the summer.
Boxgrove Priory, Tinwood and Halnaker
Boxgrove Priory is the charismatic ruins of a small Benedictine priory founded in about 1107, originally for just three monks. Boxgrove is also where the Boxgrove Man was found, or parts of him, believed to be half a million years old. From the Priory, there is a footpath that takes you around the edge of the Tinwood vineyard (they offer tours, tastings, afternoon tea and have beautiful lodge-style accommodation). Keep walking from here and follow the signs, and you climb up through a famous tunnel of trees to Halnaker windmill and a WWII strongpoint. There’s been a windmill here since at least 1540 and the current one is believed to date to 1740. The views at the windmill are amazing.
Tangmere Military Aviation Museum
East of Chichester (and south from Halnaker) this museum is on the former Tangmere airfield, famed as an RAF fighter station from 1918 until Fighter Command left in 1958. It’s now one of the UK’s leading aviation museums, and home to an impressive display of historic aircraft, and aviation memorabilia stretching from WWI through to the Cold War. There are interactive displays, aircraft cockpits and simulators for visitors to experience.
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