Our first port of call was to the ruins of the tudor manor which was mostly destroyed by fire in 1793. Untouched until the early 20th century many original features remain intact and provide an astonishing insight into tudor architecture.
The mansion was reopened to the public in 2007 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and can now be visited during the summer months on Thursdays, Fridays, Weekends and Bank Holidays.
Unfortunately, the tea shop was not open to the public as a wedding was taking place in the grounds. This turned out to be to our advantage as we were directed, via a short drive, to the Cowdray Farm Shop Café.
Here we sat on the terrace in the late summer sunshine and enjoyed freshly made carrot cake, sausage rolls and pork pies, washed down with a refreshing cup of tea.
Had we arrived a little earlier in the day we might have chosen to eat lunch inside the café. The extensive menu serves freshly made meals using locally sourced produce. It has recently been awarded a silver rating in the West Sussex ‘Eat Out Eat Well’ initiative.
Never one to miss a shopping opportunity I wandered into the Farm Shop itself. Here we were able to buy sweet and savoury treats from the deli counter to take home with us, and at the butcher’s counter, where we were spoilt for choice, we settled on some venison sausages and teriyaki duck breasts.
As well as selling a vast range of comestibles the shop also boasted a gift area which was stocked with a colourful range of kitchenware, greetings cards and miscellaneous garden items.
Surprisingly, I actually started my Christmas shopping. Obviously, I can’t let on what I bought as it has to remain a surprise for a few months yet! I can however let on that I bought this unusual plant for myself which I will keep as a reminder of my visit to the Cowdray Estate.
Leaving the confines of the park we headed out on the A272 towards Petworth. This turned out to be a fabulous road through open countryside which soon took us to our next destination. Famous for its antique shops we spent a pleasant hour or so wandering around the streets popping in and out of the various emporiums.
Before stopping for an end of afternoon refreshment I wandered into The Hungry Guest delicatessen which was like a Tardis. Windows decorated with ferns, flamingoes, and fresh produce ran the whole length of the shop. Once inside there was a cheese shop, a wine shop, and even somewhere to sit and have a cup of coffee!
Once again, my eagle eye spotted the perfect Christmas present and another small purchase was made.
Our last stop was this charming tea shop where we managed to scrounge a quick cuppa just before closing time.
Utterly sated we jumped in our little red sports car and drove home via the Surrey Hills. Wow!