Whether you want to dine on Michelin-starred cuisine, discover stunning William Morris interiors or take a ride on a vintage steam train, it’s all within easy reach of East Grinstead, just over an hour from London.
Ideal for: Families, friends, couples
Interests: Food, history, culture
Main areas: East Grinstead, West Hoathly
- Hop on the train from London and in just over an hour you’ll be in East Grinstead, ready to discover everything the region has to offer. If coming by car, East Grinstead is just off the M23, not far from Crawley.
- East Grinstead is home to one of the region’s most enduring tourist attractions, The Bluebell Railway. One of the first preserved heritage lines in the country, visitors can ride vintage steam locomotives through the West Sussex countryside and travel back in time to a bygone era of romantic train travel.
- Take the 22-mile return trip between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park or hop on and off and go in search of stunning gardens, award-winning vineyards or historical properties, all just waiting to be discovered in this fascinating, diverse region.
- Special events run throughout the year and include a Halloween Scream Train, evening Supper Specials, Rail Ale trips, Murder Mystery evenings, Toy and Rail Collectors Fair and Mystery Tours that will take you who knows where?
- After a day of discovering West Sussex by train, it’s time to carry on with the theme of relaxation and leave the real world behind, if only for one night. For understated luxury and a dining experience that is out of this world, Gravetye Manor in West Hoathly near East Grinstead can’t be beaten.
- This Elizabethan manor house oozes charm and style and is the perfect antidote to today’s fast-paced, hectic lifestyle. Arrive late afternoon so you can make the most of the grounds and the spectacular surroundings. Located in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it’s easy to lose yourself here – chances are you’ll never want to leave.
- After enjoying breakfast in bed (naturally) it’s time to drag yourself away from Gravetye Manor and explore the rest of this visitor-friendly part of West Sussex.
- On the way out of West Hoathly, stop off at Plaw Hatch Farm in Sharpthorne to grab some picnic items from the farm shop for the day ahead. This 200-acre biodynamic farm is set in picturesque surroundings and you can stock up on freshly baked bread, organic fruit and vegetables, cakes, drinks and other tasty local treats.
- Your next destination is Standen House and Garden, a National Trust owned property, close to East Grinstead. Designed by Philip Webb and furnished by Morris & Co. (of Willian Morris fame), Standen House is an Arts and Crafts home that was owned by the Beales family who used it as their country retreat from 1894.
- Lovers of art and design can revel in the breathtaking William Morris-styled interiors. There are some fine examples of his acclaimed wallpapers on show throughout the house and Standen has a real feel of a perfectly preserved family home.
- Outside, visitors can explore the extensive grounds and gardens, which includes an impressive kitchen garden. A five-year restoration project of the gardens was recently completed to bring it back to the original design that was set out by Margaret Beale in the 1920s. During the restoration, gardeners uncovered a hidden lido in the grounds, which may be opened to the public in the future. So next time you visit, bring your swimming costume.
- When you’re done exploring the house and gardens, it’s time to make your way home. Head back to where you started from and catch one of the frequent trains that run from East Grinstead. If you have some time to spare, this ancient market town – the capital of the historic High Weald area – is a pleasant place for a wander. All that’s left to do now is to start planning your next visit to West Sussex.