3-Night South Downs Discovery Tour

Abingworth - Petworth House.jpg
Duration: 3 nights
Interests: Discovery Tours
from £409pp £379pp

Peaceful countryside, rolling chalk hills and beautiful gardens make the South Downs an enchanting area to explore. Discover the pretty village Amberley and the ruins of a tudor mansion in Midhurst, walk in Petworth Park with its large herd of fallow deer, step back in time at Bignor Roman Villa and explore the Elizabethan manor house at Parham with its beautiful gardens and surrounding deer park.

Holiday Highlights

  • Marvel at the Roman mosaics at Bignor and the Tudor ruins of Cowdray House
  • Discover Parham House and Gardens, a marvellous Elizabethan estate
  • Visit Petworth, where Capability Brown designed the rolling parkland landscape 
  • Explore the quaint South Downs village of Amberley

What’s included

  • High-quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our country house
  • The services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays Leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
  • Full-day excursions with all transport on touring days in good-quality coach transport

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

Download Trip Notes

You're welcome to check in from 4pm onwards.


Start with a gentle walk through Petworth Park, hopefully seeing some of the large herd of fallow deeer which live here, with the option of visiting Petworth House (National Trust). After lunch we drive through pretty villages to Midhurst, forever associated with HG Wells; he attended Midhurst Grammar School firstly as a pupil and latterly as a teacher. He also briefly worked in the town's chemist shop and lived above a sweet shop in the town. The town featured under the name of 'Wimblehurst' in The Invisible Man. We shall walk through the historic centre to see some of its most characterful old buildings. Look out for ones whose woodwork is painted dark yellow, a shade known locally as 'Gold Cup'. This colour donates properties which belong to the Cowdray Estate; the 1st Viscount Cowdray was connected with the Liberal Party - the party's colour is yellow. We'll also visit the atmospheric ruins of Cowdray House - a large Tudor mansion which was all but destroyed by fire in 1793. The kitchen tower is the only part of the mansion which stayed intact. Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I stayed at Cowdray House during its heyday. Henry VIII was a frequent visitor.


This morning we stroll around one of the most beautiful villages in Sussex - Amberley. This sleepy village has many picturesque thatched cottages complete with classic cottage gardens growing a selection of traditional cottage garden flowers. In summer, many of the streets are lined with blooming hollyhocks which add to the village's charm. There is a small pottery, a 900 year old Grade 1 listed church and an equally ancient castle, now a luxury hotel. There's time for a coffee at the village tea rooms before the short journey to Bignor Roman Villa, which has some of the finest mosaics in Britain. We spend the afternoon at the fascinating Elizabethan Parham House, exploring the house and extensive gardens. The surrounding deer park is home to around 350 fallow deer which have been bred to have dark coats rather than the more usual pale ones.


Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home. 


Abingworth Hall

Tucked away in the village of Thakeham at the foot of the South Downs, Abingworth Hall has stood in one form another since the 13th century. Gutted by fire, it was rebuilt in 1910 in its current distinctive style. As well as 27 ensuite rooms the house has all the ingredients you need for the perfect country house stay: three comfortable lounges with squishy sofas to kick back in, the largest of which opens onto an attractive conservatory and bar in which to dally, great food and super-comfy rooms to retire to. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walking here; go for a lazy amble around the wildlife rich chalk Downlands to discover a colourful tapestry of historic villages, thatched cottages, pastoral landscapes and vibrant market towns. Highlights of your stay might include the Seven Sisters, the Glorious Goodwood estate, the Devil’s Dyke and Chantonbury Ring, as well as Arundel and the National Trust property at Petworth. Take your pick.

 

Need to know

Important Covid-19 steps we have taken for guest safety: Please Read

As we slowly reopen in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown, our country house stays are set to be organised a little differently; extra steps have been taken to keep our guests, house teams and leaders safe while we return to action. We ask all our guests to respect the measures put in place.

Initially the overall capacity of the houses has been reduced. Guests must wear face coverings in public spaces. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, we have taken the necessary steps to space out furniture and seating in public areas. In addition, a one-way system will be in place around the house. Adequate signage will be displayed to support the direction of travel to be followed by guests and house teams.

As a temporary measure, we will not be servicing rooms during a stay. Extra tea, coffee, milk, and toiletries will be made available on request for all guests. It is recommended that guests bring their own toiletries for the duration of their stay. We have removed all non-essential and reusable items from our rooms for the meantime including cushions, hairdryers, bathrobes, bed throws, and printed materials to reduce the number of items that need to be disinfected. Hairdryers will be available on request. Clean towels will be available on request. We will though be increasing the frequency of cleaning in our public areas providing particular attention to frequently touched items including door handles and handrails.

For now, there is no cream tea on arrival day. We have also adapted our food offering to remove all buffets and open food items. Different sittings may be required for breakfast and dinner due to the occupancy and size of the house. Picnic lunches will now be pre-ordered the night before from an order form in the room. The bar in each country house will be open, and we will be offering a table service for drinks. At this time there is no, or only a very limited, evening social programme available. Outdoor swimming pools at those houses that have them will re-open throughout August, except at Freshwater Bay House, where the pool will remain closed for 2020. Indoor swimming pools will remain closed.

For more information and to see all the steps taken, visit our page on how house stays will be adapted.

Rooms

Tea & coffee-making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Wi-Fi

Stay in one of the Hall’s smartly presented rooms, which make use of every nook-and-cranny in the interesting architecture of this characterful house. With 27 bedrooms, Abingworth Hall has plenty of space and there’s a range of Good and Better Rooms to choose from. Clean and bright, with accent colours to offset the simple palette, the rooms are airy and light. Better Rooms might have a feature wall or strong print wallpaper as well as pretty tiles in the ensuite bathroom.

All ‘Good’ rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Better’ Rooms that are either larger or have a desirable view, a more luxurious mattress and larger television – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-25 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.

Facilities

Free Wi-Fi, boot room and drying room, extensive garden, outdoor swimming pool, multi-purpose activity room, three lounges, library and board games to borrow

After a day strolling on the South Downs, come back to the house and its specially tailored walkers’ facilities. Relax in the large gardens and sit by the pretty pond, turn your hand to croquet or practice on the putting green. Ease through a couple of lengths of the heated outdoor pool if you’ve still got energy to burn. Hole up in the light-filled conservatory with pretty views of the gardens or retire to the Drawing Room with its wood-panelled walls, log burner, library of books to browse and comfy seats to sink in to; there’s a telescope for you to scour the night sky too. In the evening, take your seat in the bar or join fellow guests in the large ballroom for the evening activity.

Food & Drink

As at all our country houses, holidays are full board, from afternoon tea served as a welcome treat through that evening’s meal to a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. Lunch is a chance to stock up on our famous picnic snacks. Food at Abingworth Hall is varied and tasty and has a strong emphasis on ingredients from the area and seasonal produce. Once a week the dining room, which has a giant brick fireplace at its heart, hosts a Local Food Night, when, over a sociable evening, you might try a five-course feast of local Sussex flavours. Look out for the Sussex Churdle, a traditional, meaty ploughboy lunch, local Chiddingly beef cooked with black olives and Sussex smokies, smoked haddock served in a prawn sauce. Cap it all with a Sussex Pond Pudding, a pud that’s part of the honourable tradition of British dishes with names to pique the interest more than the appetite, which is actually bright and zingy, suety and syrupy all at the same time

Accessibility

For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865

10688_0070 - Abingworth Hall - Exterior

Getting to Abingworth Hall

Find out more about this location including travel details and room types.

More Information

What to Bring

To enjoy your holiday comfortably and safely, it’s essential that your clothing and footwear is suitable for the conditions likely to be encountered. Changeable weather is possible throughout the year, so our advice is to come prepared for all eventualities – hot, cold, wet or dry.

All of our Discovery tours involve active sightseeing and you should, therefore, be prepared for walking between the sights and wear flat, comfortable shoes. In the evening most guests wear casual clothing. You will probably find a small rucksack or cross-body bag useful for carrying spare clothing, a camera, sun protection, and drinks (at least 2 litres) during the day.

Admission costs are not included within the price of this holiday. Please bring cash to cover admissions - approximately £10 per day. Your Leader will advise you of the daily admission costs throughout the holiday.

Jill Durnford

Brought up in south-east England, Jill has lived in the West Country, Scotland and, since 1998, Cumbria. She has a real passion for Britain, its history, geology and wildlife and loves sharing that with other people. She loves visiting stately homes and gardens but is also interested in how ordinary people lived in the past. Jill works as a Blue Badge Guide which is the perfect job for combining her wide range of interests with a love of communicating with people.

I cannot praise Jill enough.  She was a mine of information which she put over in an interesting way.  She organised everyone efficiently and pleasantly and ensured everyone felt included and had a good time

Audrey Salter

Audrey is widely travelled, both in the UK and worldwide, and is an experienced HF Holidays’ leader and National Trust volunteer. Living close to the New Forest, her local knowledge ranges from butterflies to badgers.

Audrey appreciates the many opportunities to explore our history, architecture, culture and customs HF Holidays’ Discovery Tours provide. She enjoys seeking out local stories, historical personalities, unusual buildings and legends that enhance the experience on a holiday.

Audrey has a range of interests including gardening, reading, walking, art, history, opera and wild flowers.

A delight to be with - she loves what she does and it shows.

Guest Reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Prices are subject to change.
Prices based on two people sharing. Supplements may apply.
Non-member fee: £20 per person.

Holiday Prices

Date (Start - End) Nights Itinerary Price Status Trip Notes Book
2021
11 Jun - 14 Jun
3 Discovery Tour £409 £379 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
16 Jul - 19 Jul
3 Discovery Tour £409 £379 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
13 Aug - 16 Aug
3 Discovery Tour £409 £379 Save £30 Per Person Trip Notes Book Now
Duration:
3 nights
Interests:
Discovery Tours

3 nights from £409pp £379pp

...or call 020 3974 8865

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