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12 things to do in East Grinstead

Have you visited East Grinstead? Well you should! The West Sussex town is a hidden gem with a historic high street and foodie opportunities a plenty.

Tucked away near the East Sussex, Surrey, and Kent borders, East Grinstead may not be as well known as some of it’s neighbours, but it should certainly be on your radar as a great shopping and gourmet destination.

With a high street packed full of indie restaurants including Rocca, a Mediterranean kitchen & cocktail bar, and fine dining at By The Fountain you’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy. The town has embraced café culture and many of the eateries boast alfresco options.

Worth hunting out too is Broadleys, a mini fashion department store stocking brands such as Hugo Boss and Smith & Soul, or if you’re getting married Lily Jacobs Bridal (a finalist in the Muddy Sussex Awards for Best Bridal Store in 2022) or Penny Farthing Jewellers are essential. Ding dong!

So read on for our Muddy must-dos in East Grinstead…

The high street is packed with indie coffee shops

1. Play chess alfresco outside the bookshop

East Grinstead has gone all continental with the locals indulging in a game of chess outside the historical bookshop. Channel your inner Queens’s Gambit and see if you can beat a Grandmaster.

Checkmate outside the bookstore

2. Visit Sackville College

Sackville College/Facebook

Sackville College is a gorgeous Jacobean Almshouse at the far end of the high street, founded by Robert Sackville in 1609 and still in use today. The College is built of Sussex sandstone and is a splendid example of Jacobean architecture with sweeping views towards the Ashdown Forest.

3. Get some specs appeal at Arthur Hayes Opticians

Uber stylish independent opticians Arthur Hayes offers expert eye care alongside trend-led styles in their cool branch in the historic town. They offer the most up to date technology for eye tests including new Optomap Retinal imaging and a huge range of stylish frames including Cutler & Gross and Booth & Bruce (Prue Leith’s favourite no less).

4. Have a pie and pint at the newly refurbed Ship Inn

Muddy approved pie at The Ship

Like your pubs large? Head to the The Ship Inn at the top of the high street. It’s recently undergone a makeover and the inside space is now stylish and light, while outside boasts a Burger Shack, tiered decked garden and lovely huts when the weather is inclement.

5. Quaff some vino at the Tasting Rooms

Know your Chablis from your Chardonnay? If not head to the Tasting Rooms a slick wine bar and shop. With in-house events, from tastings to theme nights and cocktail masterclasses you’ll be almost a sommelier by the time you leave.

6. Grab a coffee and cake at the diddy Flint Owl Bakery

Flint Owl Bakery

Perhaps the cutest coffee shop in town is Flint Owl Bakery, who also have a cafe in Lewes. They are well known for their organic fermented breads and pretty pastries but you can also pick up own delicious own-brand jams and pickles, plus confectionary.

7. See a performance at Chequer Mead Theatre

This small indie arts venue supports local youth theatre, live comedy and musical events plus there is also a programme of workshops and classes. This summer performances are as diverse as live Jazz, a Tina Turner tribute and school productions of Mary Poppins and Matilda.

8. Get yourself a tweakment at The Retreatery

The Retreatery

This hidden gem above the Nest Coffee shop at the bottom of the high street offers the latest in aesthetic technology & skincare treatments including Morpheus8, IPL, laser hair removal Radio Frequency and more. Those in the know see Nurse Anna Baker for her subtle hand with rejuvenating procedures – your secret is safe with us.

9. Relax in the epic Utopia Spa at Alexander House

Utopia Spa

Just outside the town is the Muddy award-winning hotel Alexander House with it’s excellent restaurant AG’s, presided over by head chef Johnny Stanford, read our interview with him here. It’s also home to the stunning Grecian-inspired Utopia Spa that boasts 25 treatment rooms (including three for couples), an outdoor Zen garden featuring a bespoke barrel sauna and hot tub (above), and relaxation lounges to zone out in between Oskia and Temple Spa treatments. Book us in!

10. Get some fresh air at Wakehurst

The picture perfect Wakehurst

You simply must visit Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. It’s home to the UK’s largest conservation project, the Millennium Seed Bank and a picture-perfect Elizabethan Mansion that’s a must for your Insta-feed.

11. Fill your ‘Gram with historic buildings

The high street contains one of the longest continuous runs of 14th-century timber-framed buildings in the country! As well as lots of charming wonky Tudor houses and Sackville College, other notable spots include the pretty St Swithun’s Church that stands on the highest ground in the town that was rebuilt in the eighteenth century (the tower dates from 1789). If you’re lucky you might catch a wedding in the pretty grounds.

12. Have a Michelin starred meal at Gravetye Manor

Stunning Gravetye Manor

Now you’re talking! When it comes to swanky Gravetye Manor, in West Hoathly, just outside the town, has got it all going on. A jaw-droppingly gorgeous manor house and garden where the beautiful grounds seem to envelop the house, it’s a real special occasion destination. Under head chef George Blogg it gained it’s Michelin star and in summer the kitchen garden supplies 95 per cent of its fresh produce. An exquisite treat worth saving up for.

The high street is full of historic buildings

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