Week 3: Wishful Thinking Tour of Britain

One thing the recent news has convinced me of is that when we do go to Britain we should try to avoid traveling anywhere during the Christmas season, and I will be packing the best thermal underwear I can find. That last is not terribly sexy. However, I think it far preferable to freezing to death if we’re unfortunate enough to be stuck anywhere during bad weather. England might look pretty in white but I’d like to keep a healthy glow about me.

Something new I discovered this past week—I’d probably forgotten it as soon as I heard it the first time— is that England is hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games between 27 July to 12 August 2012. Depending on your level of enthusisasm this either good or bad. My husband will be in heaven if we were in England for it. Me—I’ll suffer through some events with a fair amount of sullen silence. LOL. I’m not really the sporty type, yet there is such a wonderful atmosphere at any Olymic Games that you just have to go.

This week we’re moving further east into West Sussex.

First stop: Petworth House and Park
~ Petworth, West Sussex
~ 12 miles—25 minutes from our last stop at Oakhurst Cottage near Hambledon, Surrey.

Petworth House is a magnificent late 17th century mansion set in a 700 acre deer park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and immortalised in Turner’s paintings. It houses a collection of pictures in the care of The National Trust with numerous works by Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake. The state rooms also have a large collection of sculpture, furniture, Chinese porcelain and carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The Servants’ Quarters contain Victorian kitchens that include a 1000 piece copper Batterie de Cuisine.

The house is open March through to November, the Pleasure grounds February to December – Saturday till Wednesday. For specific opening hours go to the National Trust website . On weekdays additional rooms in the house are open by kind permission of Lord and Lady Egremont so be sure to check when.

Arundel Castle
~ Arundel, West Sussex
~ 12 miles—25 minutes—from Petworth House and Park

I could not let another week go by without setting foot inside a castle. Arundel Castle was built at the end of the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel. The seat of The Dukes of Norfolk and set in 40 acres of sweeping grounds and gardens, Arundel Castle has been open to visitors seasonally for nearly 200 years.

Arundel has a fascinating history.  Apart from the occasional reversion to the Crown, Arundel Castle has descended directly from 1138 to the present day, carried by female heiresses from the d’Albinis to the Fitzalans in the 13th century and then from the Fitzalans to the Howards in the 16th century and it has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for over 850 years. Wow. All that family in one place.

The Howard’s were at the forefront of English history, from the Wars of the Roses to the Civil War. It makes me want to bury my head in the family genealogy again just to see if there is a connection. There are even personal possessions belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots on display.

Unfortunately, photography isn’t permitted within the castle itself, but if you’re able to climb the 131 steps up the Keep there are views of the River Arun, the sea and district that are reputed to be worth the effort. A shame about the photography – I would have liked a picture with a suit of armour.  

The castle is open late April to October, Tuesday to Sunday. Guided tours available on request. Go to the Arundel Castle website  for visiting hours.

 Last stop: Seattle Hotel on the waterfront at Brighton Marina.
~ Brighton, East Sussex
~ 27 miles—47 minutes—from Arundel Castle

Oops, we’ve slipped over into East Sussex, but this stop is a surprise for my husband because after three weeks of inland trekking he’ll be missing his usual water views and the sounds of both sail and motor boats. (If I say he’s a fanatic that’s putting it mildly). The Seattle is a no pets but friendly to children kind of place but really we’re just here for the sea views of the English Channel and pretty, shiny, boaty things. My husband will cringe at that description, but I just can’t tell the difference between one boat motor and the next simply by listening to them rumble. LOL

Brighton boasts the The Royal Pavilion, the famous seaside palace of King George IV. The Pavilion is just a short walk along the beach, turn right at Brighton Pier so that’s where we’re headed next week. Until next time.

If you missed any of the previous weeks go here for week 1 and here for week 2.

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