Pub gardens for post-lockdown fun
Here's to alfresco meet-ups from April 12! We've cherry-picked some of the best pub gardens for eating and drinking in Sussex. Your round!
We’re just days away from being able to meet with five of our faves in a pub garden for lunch, dinner or just a sundowner and we. Can’t. Wait. To while away the time between now and April 12, we’ve gone and found the best alfresco hotspots in Sussex for you.
The Royal Oak, Midhurst
Just outside Midhurst, this fantastic destination pub has a huge garden, a drive-thru for takeaway, an outside bar, pizza oven, music and a gorgeously lit and decorated heated marquee. Perfect for a lazy afternoon, a well-earned post-walk feast or a balmy spring evening with friends.
The White Hart, South Harting
One to flock to after a brisk walk up nearby Harting Down, or a more leisurely amble through the pretty village and surrounds. The large garden will be buzzing, with new furniture, heated and sheltered areas, and a menu for al-fresco dining. Some tables will be kept free for walk-ins so try your luck if you’re passing and have forgotten to book! Opening hours weather dependent so check before you go.
Amberley Black Horse, Amberley
The terrace and garden of this Grade II listed pub with rooms will open on April 14 for alfresco drinking and dining. Located in the heart of the South Downs, Amberley is the quintessential chocolate-box village full of characterful buildings and glorious views of the river Arun. The Black Horse’s future once looked bleak but a campaign from local residents saw its fortunes restored and it reopened after an extensive refurb in 2018.
The Cat Inn, West Hoathly
The garden of this former Muddy Award winner will be open for food and drink from April. Tables of up to six must be booked in advance. A lovely stop-off from nearby Ardingly or Balcombe, or a destination in itself with exceptional quality hospitality and food.
Coach and Horses, Danehill
Boasting large gardens with views of the South Downs, the Coach and Horses at Danehill is perfect for a sunny afternoon. A play area will keep children happy and there’s an adults-only terrace for peaceful relaxation in the shade of a huge maple tree. The menu will also encourage you to linger, with locally sourced food to the fore. Drinks-wise the free house champions Sussex breweries. The pub also has three suggested circular walks on its website to help you work up an appetite. Open from April 13.
The Sussex Ox, near Polegate
For the warmer months this pub has the bonus of a raised decking surrounded by a wide garden with picnic tables and parasols, overlooked on all sides by the South Downs. There are heat lamps on the terrace for cooler evenings. The Wilmington Giant is nearby and there are plenty of walking opportunities.
The Dorset Arms, Withyham
The 18th century Dorset Arms is part of the historic Buckhurst Estate on which the ‘100 Acre Wood’ from the Winnie the Pooh stories sits. Ashdown Forest, AA Milne’s home village of Hartfield and Groombridge Place can be explored nearby. Organically-reared meat and game from the Estate appears on the pub menu, including steaks and popular sausages made to owner Lord De La Warr’s favourite recipe. Not only is there a large garden with plentiful seating with parasols, the pub itself has a garden room with retractable roof!
The White Horse, Chilgrove, near Chichester
There isn’t a great deal to Chilgrove other than the White Horse and perhaps for that reason this is a one-stop shop of an inn. Visit for ‘field to fork’ locally-sourced food and views of the glorious Chichester countryside. In fact there’s so much space you’re welcome to arrive by helicopter if you like.
The Duke of Cumberland Arms, Henley, near Midhurst
This 16th century pub near Midhurst is perched on top of a hill, so unsurprisingly it’s another with great views, this time looking towards Leith Hill in Surrey. The garden itself has a stream and ponds (one with trout). Tables are arranged on a deck, patio and lawn, there’s even an outdoor fireplace and snug. The rotating menu, from an award-winning chef includes high end ingredients like oysters, venison and scallops.
The Griffin Inn, Fletching, near Uckfield
A former Muddy Awards finalist, The Griffin Inn has a garden so big it’s nicknamed the Serengeti and it’s back in business from April 12. They may not promise roaming wildebeest but the two acres are backed by a fabulous view of the South Downs and National Trust property Sheffield Park. There’s an outdoor bar ‘The Sheffield’ and alfresco dining is catered for with a built in barbecue and wood oven and more formal fare is available inside.
Hove Place, Brighton & Hove
A city garden this one, just off Church Road in Hove. The Italian-style patio area is a total suntrap, complete with a couple of covered snugs and numerous heaters for those iffy summer/autumn nights. Spot the decorated Snowdog bought for charity after the art trail through Brighton and Hove and now occupying a lofty perch over proceedings. Taking bookings for outdoor dining from April 12, and the inside will reopen in May.
Shepherd & Dog, Fulking, near Devil’s Dyke
At the foot of Devil’s Dyke, just north of Brighton, this is a great stop after a bracing walk, a bike ride, or a spot of kite flying at the top. The lower part of the garden is approached over a stream, there’s an outdoor bar too and enough space for a marquee for 100.
The Sussex Oak, Warnham, near Horsham
Muddy wellies, muddy dogs and muddy children are all welcome here at this lovely country pub just outside Horsham, in the pretty village of Warnham. Enjoy seasonal pub grub and try the ice cream, it’s divine. And how’s this for a point of interest, it’s got it’s own boules court. Combine a visit with a walk at nearby Warnham Nature Reserve.
The Ram Inn, Firle
The garden at The Ram Inn has a lovely outdoor fire to keep you toasty warm, plus a play area in the orchard for the little ones. There’s also a wood-fired oven on the terrace. Food-wise, everything is locally sourced, from beef and lamb from next-door Place Farm to fish from Shoreham, and tiny wild strawberries and mushrooms from the Downs.
The Anchor Inn, Barcombe
It’s not so much the garden itself here that’s the star, it’s what it backs onto. The Ouse runs alongside the pub and you can step from the garden into a boat for a row along the river. If you’re lucky you may also see a kingfisher. The pub also has riverside chalet accommodation. Garden open from April 12, no need to book.
The Snowdrop Inn, Lindfield
A fave of Muddy Sussex’s commercial director Sally, the Snowdrop is a classic country pub bursting with character. The halloumi fries with harissa mayo come highly recommended, as do the chef’s secret recipe pork scratchings. The pub will continue to offer its popular takeaway service after reopening in April.
The Bat & Ball, Newpound, near Billingshurst
A really beautifully-kept garden, with so much to it, from the Apple Garden at the back of the pub where children can climb aforementioned apple trees and swing, to the courtyard garden out front, to the cottage garden where fresh produce is grown and taken straight to the kitchen.