A major new garden, latest foodie news and more fun happenings to help you pep up your free time around Sussex
Major new Sussex garden
Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens near Horsham has just opened to the public following the largest UK garden restoration project since Heligan in Cornwall 20 years ago.
The Grade 1 listed 240 acre estate had been closed for nine years and head gardener Ray Abraham and his team had their work cut out pruning and cataloguing, dredging lakes and restoring collapsed pathways. Muddy went a long for a sneak preview and was very impressed by the site which spreads across a valley and includes lakes, woods, lawns and a large rock garden.
It was created by rich 19th century plant hunters so has fabulous flora from around the world… and a bit of forna too – with a colony of wallabies – yes, wallabies! Film buffs will be interested to know part of Leonardslee stood in for India in scenes for Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus. A new Australia garden is currently being created.
There are fabulous rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and magnolias. Some of the vintage Rhododendrons are colossal and Ray tells us there’s one so rare it’s the only specimen in existance and he’s taken the label off to avoid people taking cuttings!
In the mansion house on site is fine dining Restaurant Interlude with beautiful views over the valley, which will be serving up tasting menus and afternoon teas. On a more modest scale, there’s a cafe and a shop where you can buy picnic ingredients and hire a hamper.
New owner Penny Streeter also owns the Mannings Heath Golf Course and Wine Estate nearby and Leonardslee too has a new vineyard.
Don’t miss the gorgeous dolls house museum recreating an entire Edwardian village complete with graveyard ghost and a bit of rough and tumble in the hayloft!
Pub goes Historic
Historic Sussex Hotels has bought The Black Horse pub at Climping near Littlehampton – within walking distance of its Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa. The Black Horse is Grade II listed and dates back to the 17th century. To be reopened as a gastro pub, it will give Bailiffscourt guests an alternative dining option as well as serving the wider public. The Historic Sussex Hotels group also owns the Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa at Midhurst and Okendon Manor Hotel & Spa at Cuckfield. There’s no date set as yet for the Black Horse relaunch, though it should be this year, so watch this space.
Food & drink fests
Looking ahead to May there are a couple of tasty fests coming up…
Lucky Hastings will host the Sussex Street Food Festival over the bank holiday weekend of 25 – 27 May. Some of the best foodie treats from across the world from arancini balls to doughy churros to jerk chicken, Vietnamese food and more will be available from a wide range of stalls on the Stade. Register now for a free ticket to guarantee peak time entry and you’ll get a shot in a prize draw for food and cocktails for four.
Meanwhile, on Sat 18 May, Muddy Award-wining wine merchants South Downs Cellars have a Best of British Gin Festival happening at the New Inn in Hurstpierpoint with over 30 of the best gins the UK has to offer, presented by the very people that make them. You pay for entry then buy tokens to taste… well perhaps not all 30 but the ones that catch your eye. Get your designated driver sorted pronto!
Hasting’s Jerwood Gallery is relaunching as Hastings Contemporary this summer. A public reopening is planned for July 6 with exhibitions by international contemporary painter Tal R and British artist Roy Oxlade and new drawings from artist patron Sir Quentin Blake kicking off an expanded programme.
Horsham has just gained an Everyman cinema following a multimillion-pound regeneration project. The plush boutique venue includes sofa seats and a bar.
Comedy and circus
OK, October is crazily far off but tickets for Ed Gamble sell like hot cakes so you best pounce quick on his recently released Sussex dates at The Capitol, Horsham on 6 Oct and The Old Market, Hove on 27 Oct – both are half sold already! He’s been on Live at the Apollo and has a chart-topping podcast dontcha’ know?
Worthing’s cool contemporary Summer of Circus is back and the great news is the free events have been ramped up this year with alfresco shows of trampolining, balance and acrobatics skills in June, July and August besides regular ticketed shows.
Do you live in one of the UK’s ‘best places’?
The Sunday Times has just published its annual Best Places To Live in 2019 list and three Sussex locations made the cut for the Southeast category. Cuckfield and The Witterings are among runners up and Petworth is crowned overall winner for the region. ‘The upwardly mobile South Downs hotspot has thrown off its frusty image in style,” the paper claims.
In case you missed it…
As mentioned in Muddy’s last newsflash… Chef Johnny Stanford (from Jodie Kidd’s Half Moon at Kirdford and Brighton restaurant Pascere), recently opened No.1 Broad Street in Cuckfield. The Gingerman Group’s newbie Flint House is opening in Brighton’s Lanes next week. 2018 Masterchef winner Kenny Tutt is opening restaurant and cookery school PITCH in his home town of Worthing, with general bookings from 26 April.