What to do in the South Downs this summer


The Chichester Festival Theatre, West Sussex
Cameron Mackintosh doesn’t see the temporary closure of the main theatre for expansion as an obstacle-he’s staging the musical Barnum in a temporary tented venue (July 15-August 31). 01243 781312; www.cft.org.uk
Grange Park Opera, Hampshire
The festival founded in 1997 by Wasfi Kani is now firmly on the summer social calendar in the restored ruins of this Palladian mansion. Less corporate than Glyndebourne, the season includes Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (May 30-July 11), Bellini’s I Puritani (May 31-June 29), Poulenc’s Les Carmélites (June 11-July 12) and Messager’s Fortunio (July 10-July 13) (for more on the season, see Country Life May 29). www.grangeparkopera.co.uk; 01962 737365
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex
Contemporary and 20th-cent-ury art has found a welcome home in this Grade I-listed Queen Anne town house, which hosts a programme of events, talks and workshops. Summer exhibitions are ‘Paul Nash: The Clare Neilson Collection’ (to June 30) and ‘Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture’ (July 6-October 13).01243 774557; www.pallant.org.uk

Days out
Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
The museum’s 50-acre site has 50 exhibit buildings, spanning the period between 1300 and 1910, which have been saved from demolition. There are daily tours and events, including a rare-
breeds show and the Vintage & Steam Festival (August 17-18).01243 811363; www.wealddown.co.uk
Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex
Home of three glamorous festivals: The Festival of Speed (July 11-14) is described as the ‘largest motoring garden party in the world’; Glorious Goodwood (July 30-August 3) is a more relaxed version of Royal Ascot that has better views; Goodwood Revival (September 13-15) celebrates all things vintage in the motor-racing world-dressing up is encouraged.
01243 755055; www.goodwood.co.uk
Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup, Cowdray Park Polo Club, Midhurst, West Sussex
Set within Viscount Cowdray’s 16,500-acre estate, Cowdray Park has been the home of British polo since 1910. There’s sport all summer, but the Gold Cup final is on July 21. www.cowdraypolo.co.uk; 01730 813257
Mid-Hants Railway ‘Watercress Line’
A heritage railway saved by volunteers and reopened as a visitor attraction in 1977. It runs from Alresford to Alton and a ticket allows all-day unlimited travel, including time to enjoy the market towns at each end of the line. Dogs are allowed on board, too. www.watercressline.co.uk; 01962 733810 


Lime Wood, Lyndhurst, Hampshire
Boutique five-star hotel in the New Forest. Charles Morris and Ben Pentreath designed the architectural additions to this Regency country house. It offers informal dining, with seasonal English food and five-star service. www.limewoodhotel.co.uk; 02380 287177
Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly, West Sussex
This 16th-century house was the home of William Robinson until 1935. The manor still uses his ideas for English natural horticulture and 95% of the fruit and vegetables used in the restaurant comes from the kitchen garden. 01342 810567; www.gravetyemanor.co.uk

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West Dean, near Chichester, West Sussex
As well as boasting a walled kitchen garden, a 300ft-long Edwardian pergola, a spring garden, arboretum and parkland walk, the estate hosts festivals, including a Chilli Fiesta, and conservation workshops. www.westdean.org.uk; 01243 818210
Great Dixter, near Rye, East Sussex
Well known to readers of Country Life as the home of our long-time columnist the late Christopher Lloyd, its gardens were created in 1910 by Edwin Lutyens. 01797 252878; www.greatdixter.co.uk
Mottisfont Abbey, near Romsey, Hampshire
This 21-acre riverside garden in the Test valley has a famous walled garden with a striking display of traditional roses. 01794 340757; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont


The Thomas Lord, West Meon, Hampshire
Traditional pub named after the founder of Lord’s Cricket Ground, with a free-range chicken run.
www.thethomaslord.co.uk; 01730 829244
The Duke of Cumberland Arms, Midhurst, West Sussex
The fare at last year’s Good Food Guide Pub of the Year includes trout from its own ponds.
www.thedukeofcumberland.com; 01428 652280


The Test
Fishing is available by the day on some of the most hallowed stretches of this chalk stream (Reel Life, page 81). For brown trout, Simon Cooper can book you onto the lovely water at Wherwell Priory (01264 781988; www.fishingbreaks.co.uk). There’s a sporting chance of salmon or sea trout on the Testwood and Nursling beats down-river, exclusive to Howard Taylor. www.upstreamdryfly.com; 01425 403209
The Itchen
Orvis UK offers a challenging length of the more intimate Itchen at Abbot’s Worthy. 01264 349515; www.orvis.co.uk

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Stratfield Saye, Hampshire
Magnificent house built in about 1630 by Sir William Pitt; home to the Dukes of Wellington since 1817. The floor of the entrance hall has Roman mosaic tiles and there’s an exhibition in the stables depicting the life of the first Duke (July 25-August 19).www.stratfield-saye.co.uk; 01256 882694
The Vyne, Basingstoke, Hampshire
Built in the 16th century for Lord Sandys, Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, The Vyne looks out onto a lake. The Tudor chapel has stained glass dating from the Renaissance, 16th-century Flemish Majolica tiles and an 18th-century tomb chamber.01256 883858; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/vyne
Uppark House, Petersfield, Hampshire
This 18th-century house was rescued after a major fire in 1989 and has a Georgian interior. Its Grand Tour collection includes a well-known 18th-century doll’s house with original contents. The servants’ quarters remain as they were in Victorian times, when H. G. Wells’s mother was housekeeper. 01730 825415; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/uppark
Petworth House, Petworth, West Sussex
Set in a 700-acre deer park, the 17th-century grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown and painted by Turner. Home to the National Trust’s finest collection of pictures, including works by Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake plus sculptures. 01798 342207;www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house


Chichester Harbour
One of the few remaining undeveloped coastal areas in southern England and designated an AONB. Some 12,500 boats use the harbour and there are beautiful creekside villages, miles of well-signposted footpaths and a programme of guided walks and activities. www.conservancy.co.uk;
01243 512301
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week
One of the most important events of the British sporting summer calendar since it began in 1826, the eight-day regatta offers 40 daily races for up to 1,000 boats watched by more than 100,000 spectators. Family Day is on August 4, Ladies’ Day on August 8 and the firework display on August 9.www.aamcowesweek.co.uk


Pulborough Brooks, Pulborough, West Sussex
Set in the Arun Valley, there’s wildfowl in winter, wading birds in spring, and butterflies, dragon-
flies and kingfishers in summer. 01798 875851; www.rspb.org.uk/pulboroughbrook
Farlington Marshes, Havant, Hampshire
Its 308 acres of grazing marsh between Portsmouth and Havant are an internationally important bird reserve, as well as supporting wild flowers and butterflies. 01489 774429; www.hiwwt.org.uk


A beautiful village whose most famous inhabitant was the 18th-century literary naturalist Gilbert White. He constructed the zig-zag path that goes up the Selborne Hanger near his house, The Wakes (01420 511275; www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk). The path is part of the 275 acres of National Trust meadow and woodland that are open year-round.
The home of Jane Austen towards the end of her life-find out more by visiting Jane Austen’s House Museum (www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk; 01420 83262) and Chawton House Library (www.chawtonhouse.org; 01420 541010). Chawton House was the home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Knight, and is more than 400 years old. It now holds a unique and extensive collection of early women’s writing for the period 1600 to 1830.

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