On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in West Sussex.
In September, every year there is the world’s greatest motor historic racing event at The Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, the “Goodwood Revival”. We have been privileged enough to frequent these events for many years. The event lasts three days and it is always over a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
We went for the event last year again, September 2022, and we arrived in West Sussex on the Friday, end of the afternoon. We rented a one-bedroom flat for the weekend in Pagham Beach called Sea Dreams. The flat was very close to the beach, and it was a lovely, clean, and a comfortable space to spend the weekend. You can check it out at this link
As we arrived at the end of the afternoon, it was still clear and bright, so we went for a walk on the beach; it is a pebbled, long beach with calm waters. There were lots of beach chalets and houses facing the beach, most of them closed as it was the end of the summer season.
We walked all the way to Pagham Yacht Club via the beach, turned on Beach Road and returned to the flat via The Causeway. It was a nice walk to get acquainted with the area.
After having a shower and resting for a while we got ready to meet our friends who were staying at the Haven Church Farm Caravan Park, also in Pagham. We ordered an Indian take-away to eat at their caravan and had an enjoyable evening with our friends.
We had tickets for Goodwood Revival for Saturday and on Saturday morning we met our friends and headed to the event. This is a very popular event, and, on the way, we saw many classic cars also heading to Goodwood. Although there were many people, the arrival was very well organised. We parked the car into one of Goodwood’s car parks very quickly and walked to the event.
As mentioned before this is a historic car racing event with hundreds of old and rare cars all competing to win their motor sport trophies. The event also characterises a period theme focusing on the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. People will predominantly dress in vintage clothes of these periods, but some prefer the 1970’s fashion styles too. This is adhered by 90% of the people going to the event. They even have a competition for the best dressed guests!
Besides watching the races that go on the whole day, there is plenty to explore. The Revival High Street, where there are vintage clothes shops, gifts, memorabilia, etc., as good examples (with even a vintage hair salon). There are various places to eat and drink; live music played in different areas, and people dancing to period music. There is also an area dedicated to pre-1966 aircraft where you can see rare machines from the history of aviation. Outside the Motor Circuit there is a fairground, classic cars on show for sale or to view, a Sky Cinema and much more to explore. You can easily spend the whole day (or weekend) looking at different things as there are lots to do.
This year my friend had a space at the Goodwood Road Racing Club-only enclosure, and he parked his classic car there by the circuit; we took a picnic with us and had our lunch there. There is a truck that takes you around the circuit passing through the GRRC enclosure and to the main area where the shops and other areas are. Check out the video below from my Instagram.
It is possible to visit Goodwood House; it is a private estate, but it is open to the public between March and October. Sadly, it is closed for visits during the Goodwood Revival event because they use the house as a hotel. So, we couldn’t visit the house yet, as every time we travelled there was for the Revival event itself.
In summary, Goodwood Revival is a very enjoyable event to attend, therefore we have been going most of the years, for some time now.
By the end of the Saturday event, we packed up and left Goodwood Revival for another year. Tonight, we had booked dinner at a local pub in Pagham with our friends. Again, we had a lovely time in good company and good food.
On Sunday morning we went to my friend’s caravan for a full English breakfast that they carefully prepared for everybody. Once breakfast was over, we headed to Beaulieu, in The New Forest, a good hour and 10 minutes away from Pagham.
Beaulieu is a small, charming village at the head of the river Beaulieu and dates to the 13th century. It grew around the Cistercian Abbey from 1204, of which only the ruins remain today.
The architecture is picturesque, with various stores ranging from gift shops to arts and crafts. You will find various cafés and restaurants in the village as well as a pub and a hotel.
However, the most important attraction of Beaulieu, and what attracts many people to the village, is the Beaulieu Complex, the home of the National Motor Museum, The Palace House and Gardens, Beaulieu Abbey Ruins, and other attractions.
When we arrived, we parked and explored the High Street with the shops and cafés, and afterwards we drove to the Beaulieu Complex. Once at the complex, the first thing we did was to take the monorail to see the whole site from the top, which was fun and entertaining. When finished, we explored the National Motor Museum with it’s 285 vehicles on exhibition, containing a collection of historic motor vehicles. There are temporary and permanent exhibitions and there is an area dedicated to The World of Top Gear showing vehicles used on the filming of the famous BBC car show.
After the Museum, we stopped for lunch at the Brabazon Coffee shop and restaurant at the site. As it was a bit late for lunch, there was not much left as options to eat, so we only had a salad, which quickly became apparent was not a very good choice but kept us going for the rest of the visit.
We next visited the gothic Palace House, which has been the home of the Montagu family since 1538, and still is the home of Lord and Lady Montagu (with only some parts of the house open to the public). It is a beautiful gothic style house with an impressive hallway and exquisite furnishings.
From the house we headed to the Victorian flower and kitchen garden. The garden is simply a delight; in full bloom even though it was the end of summer, showing to be very well maintained and looked after.
After being impressed with the beauty of the garden we went to see the ruins of the abbey. They transformed the site in an exhibition place and venue for weddings and events. There is very little left from the abbey to see.
After that we decided to leave and drive through The New Forest to see if we could catch at least a glimpse of its famed ponies.
We drove to Burley Village passing through Brockenhurst and on the road leading to Burley, just after Brockenhurst, we were lucky enough to see loads of ponies alongside the road. At Burley Village, the ponies were wondering around the village amongst the people on the streets. That was very nice to see; I love horses and that was a treat. Have a look at the video below from my Instagram. It shows some of the horses roaming free on the streets.
As it was late afternoon, we decided to drive back to Pagham as we had a restaurant booked for 8 pm that night.
We had booked the Crab & Lobster Gastro Pub on the Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve. Although it was a bit of a drive to get there, it was worth the effort. The food was excellent and the restaurant very cosy, tastefully decorated and furnished. We will certainly return there when we are in the area next time.
Next day was Monday and the day of the funeral of our H M Queen Elizabeth II. We woke up early, packed up and left Sea Dreams. We went in the direction of Chichester, about 15 minutes from Pagham.
As it was a bank holiday, and due to the funeral, not many places were open, we still found an open café in the city centre, and we stopped for a coffee.
Chichester was founded by the Romans 2000 years ago and they built walls around the city to protect it and introduced four gateways to control access and trade. After all these years the walls still survive as one of the most intact Roman defences in the south of England.
We followed the wall and turned on North Street. We wandered around the historical City Centre passing in front of Chichester City Council Building and went in the direction of the Market Cross. From there we visited The Bishop’s Palace Gardens and Cathedral. The Cathedral has been a sacred place of worship since it’s foundation in 1108. It is a beautiful building with all its chapels, ancient art, and stained-glass windows.
We had a very good impression of the city and in a normal day it must be full of life, contrary to that day that was in mourning. The city has art galleries, museums, fabulous parks, and gardens, as well as all the other attractions around town such as the Weald and Downland Living Museum (rural buildings in beautiful landscapes), and Fishbourne Roman Palace.
After exploring the city centre, we drove back home in time to have a late lunch and watch the funeral on TV.
RIP H M Queen Elizabeth II and God save the new H M King Charles III!
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in West Sussex. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO SEE IN WEST SUSSEX
1 – Goodwood Revival – ***
2 – Pagham Beach – ***
3 – Beaulieu – ***
4 – Beaulieu Complex – ***
5 – Burley Village – ***
6 – Brockenhurst – ***
7 – Horses in the New Forest – ***
8 – Chichester – ***
9 – Roman Wall – ***
10 – Bishop’s Palace Gardens – ***
11 – Chichester Cathedral – ***
12 – Market Cross – ***
13 – Weald and Downland Living Museum
WHERE TO STAY IN WEST SUSSEX
1 – Sea Dreams – Pagham – *** – ££
2 – The Goodwood Hotel – 4* – ££
3 – Harbour Hotel Chichester – 4* – ££
4 – East Pallant B & B – 3* – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN WEST SUSSEX
1 – The Lamb Inn – Pub – ** – ££
3 – Crab & Lobster – Gastro Pub – Pagham Harbour Natural Reserve – *** – ££
4 – Brasserie Blanc – Chichester – ££
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