The Chichester culture weekender

Enjoy a spot of retail therapy then seek out art and contemporary sculpture.

Chichester is a must-see destination when visiting West Sussex. Combine some retail therapy with a stay on the Goodwood Estate, a walk up Kingley Vale and trip to the stunning Cass Sculpture Foundation.

Ideal for: Couples, families, friends
Interests: Shopping, walking, nature, history, art, culture
Main areas: Chichester, Goodwood, West Stoke, West Ashling

Day one

  1. Chichester is West Sussex’s only city and a pleasant place to spend the day, with a small but perfectly formed pedestrianised High Street, a number of good eateries and attractions plus excellent transport links.
  2. Chichester Cathedral is a classic Norman building that was built in 1076 and is worth a look inside, its spire dominates the city and can be seen for miles. Or there’s the Novium Museum, home to changing exhibitions, Pallant House Gallery, showcasing a fine collection of 20th century British art and Chichester Festival Theatre where culture vultures can take a backstage tour.
  3. After refuelling with lunch at St Martin’s Tea Rooms (or Purchases if you’re feeling a little more flush), it’s time to hit the shops. All the big High Street names are here along with a handful of independent boutiques – there’s more than enough to satisfy the savviest shopper.
  4. When you’re done with shopping, leave the city behind and head to the Goodwood Hotel to bed down for the night, a 20-minute drive by car. Nestling on the sweeping Goodwood Estate, not only can you make full use of the spa facilities while you’re there, you can also enjoy dinner at The Goodwood Bar & Grill  or Farmer, Butcher, Chef, the recently opened restaurant in the grounds serving top-class local produce from the estate.

Day two

  1. Feeling refreshed and revived? Nestling in the grounds of the vast Goodwood Estate, is the Cass Sculpture Foundation. It’s not like any other gallery or museum in that everything is for sale with proceeds split equally between the artist and the organisation to help facilitate new commissions. This not-for-profit organisation showcases contemporary sculpture in all its forms and is truly awe-inspiring.
  2. Artworks are dotted throughout the peaceful grounds and you can discover them all at your own pace armed with a map of the grounds highlighting the artists’ work. This place is calm, ethereal and uncrowded, unlike many other galleries you might visit.
  3. With over 40 majestic sculptures currently on display, you can expect to see works by Turner Prize-nominated Jake and Dinos Chapman, Eva Rothschild, Phillip King, Stephen Cox and many more. Buy an annual membership and you can come back as many times as you like – as if you really needed an excuse to return.
  4. The afternoon is all about making the most of the stunning countryside all around you with a bracing walk through Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve, part of the South Downs National Park and a short car ride away from the Sculpture Foundation. Park in the car park in West Stoke and follow the signs that take you through the reserve. Leave two to three hours for this if you want to experience it properly. For those with reduced mobility, you may not be able to make it to the top of the vale, but you can still walk along the pathway to the forest to see the magnificent yew trees.
  5. Kingley Vale is famous for its ancient yew tree forests; some are over 2,000 years old and amongst some of the oldest living things in Britain. You can spend hours in the woodland climbing and exploring, but make sure you save some time and energy to get to the top of the vale. The views up there are stunning and on a clear day you can see the whole of Chichester Harbour and the Isle of Wight. It’s worth pausing for a while to take it all in.
  6. Within five minutes of arriving back at the West Stoke car park you can be enjoying a pint and wood fired pizza at the fabulous Richmond Arms in West Ashling. This is a very modern take on the British pub and is the perfect spot to recharge your batteries.