I particularly recommend visiting the small town of Arundel – just a half an hour drive from Steyning. This famous West Sussex market town is most well-known for its 11th century Castle and its Victorian gothic cathedral.
There are nearly 1,000 years of history at the castle, situated in magnificent grounds overlooking the River Arun. It was built at the end of the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery. The oldest features are the motte and the gatehouse. The motte is an artificial mound, over 100 feet high from the dry moat, and was constructed in 1068.
The castle is open from Good Friday to the end of October on Tuesdays to Sundays, May Bank Holiday Mondays & August Mondays. Admission costs: Adults £9 (gardens) to £18; Seniors £9 to £15.50; Children £9.
You can visit the cathedral at any time of year and admission is free.
Explore more of the area’s history and heritage at Arundel Museum or look at the town from a different perspective at the Arundel Jailhouse and Ghost Experience!
If you enjoy art you will be happy at one of the superb galleries. Interested in antiques? You’ll find plenty of shops with collectables.
If shopping is your ‘bag’ then you’ll enjoy the wide range of contemporary and traditional independent shops.
Water enthusiasts can hire a rowing boat on Swanbourne Lake or take aboat trips on the River Arun. If you love nature I particularly recommend a visit to the Wetland Centre.
Perhaps you will just want to relax in one of the many cafes, bars and restaurants or in a traditional English pub!
In my photo you can see an example of local flora called Ramsons, or wild garlic (Allium ursinum) whichis in the same family as bluebells. It also grows in woodlands, but tolerates heavier, damper soils, often along stream banks. They produce a globe head of many starry white flowers and can be as spectacular as a show of bluebells. You’ll see it locally around April and May.
If you are a nature lover you can take advantage of courses, talks and walks organised regularly by Sussex Wildlife Trust. They run many of their events in their headquarters at Woods Mill within a mile of Steyning.
Findon Sheep Fair takes place every year in Findon Village on the second Saturday of the month. The next fair is on Saturday 9th September 2017
Festivities start on Friday evening with a funfair on the green and a Barn Dance in the marquee
Saturday is the fair itself, with…
FREE ADMISSION! (car parking £4)
There are craft stalls, sheep displays, sheep judging, a funfair, food stalls, and many other displays on the green.
In the evening, you can dance to live music from the popular local band Murdoch’s Crazy Eyes in the marquee (admission by pre-paid ticket)
An annual three day fair began in Findon, back in 1261 , with a government charter . The Sheep Fair proper was started by George Holford on Nepcote Green sometime before 1785. A lamb sale was held on 12th July followed by The Great Fair, always held on 14th September. Before that the sheep had been sold by private deals and the first auction sales started in 1896.
From 1925 sheep were driven in large flocks over the downs to Steyning train station for delivery but this stopped when the Steyning line was sadly closed in the 1960’s. Gradually lorries took over and sheep are no longer delivered on foot in the traditional way.
In the 1950’s the date changed to the second Saturday in September and in 1971 the July lamb sale stopped.
Most dramatically the breed of sheep, which used to be almost all Southdown’s, have tended to be replaced with other breeds so that in recent years very few Southdown sheep have been sold and the most popular rams are Suffolk’s.
How to get to Findon
Travel by car via A283 and A24. It should take about 15 min(7.6 miles)
Steyning District Food and Drink Festival is from 2nd September to the 8th October 2017
Make sure you don’t miss Steyning’s first ever Bake Off on 16 September from 13:00–17:00. This promises to be an exciting event.
Get your secret family recipes out and bring along your delicious home-made cakes for the first Steyning Festival Bake Off !
Competition categories include Best Decorated Cake, Best Cup Cake, Best Victoria Sponge, Best Overall Cake and more … There will be professional judges with prizes for the winners.
Make it a party afternoon, come along to view the entries, then enjoy a cup of tea and competition cakes, which will be sold to raise funds, once the judging has taken place. Buy more to take home as well !
The competition is at the Steyning Centre, Fletchers Croft, Steyning BN44 3XZ. The centre is a 10 minute walk from Rosebud Holiday Cottage (currently available from 16th – 23rd Sept!)
Find details about the annual festival at http://www.steyningdistrictfooddrinkfestival.co.uk
If you would like a short easy walk head along Mouse Lane…. this runs from Steyning High Street to Wiston House. It is just around the corner from Rosebud Cottage and can be seen in my photo.
There are several footpaths going off Mouse Lane which you can explore. You’ll find a more challenging one on the left that leads up to Chanctonbury Ring
Do watch out for traffic as cars drive along the lane.
The Downs Link Path
If you are would like a longer walk on mainly level paths The Downs Link path could be just right for you. It goes between St Martha’s (near Guildford in Surrey) and Botolphs (near Bramber and Steyning) following old railway routes for most of the way. Where the route ends at Botolphs it joins the South Downs way and The Coastal Link path to Shoreham by Sea.
The route passes through a variety of countryside areas well worth seeing and at Loxwood it is very near the Wey and Arun Canal.
The route is approximately 36 miles long and is suitable for walking, cycling and horses riders.
St Cuthman was an 8th century Saxon saint who settled in Steyning, and founded the first church. He is said to have been wheeling his invalid mother in a handcart when it broke. This was seen as a sign from god that he should establish a church close by.
St Cuthman is depicted in three stained glass windows in St Andrew’s and St Cuthmans’s Church in Steyning. You can see him as a shepherd, as a builder and in the one in the photo with his mother in a handcart
You can also see a modern sculpture of St Cuthman’s was made to commemorate the millennium: He is looking across the road at his church.
The Norman Church
The church built by the Normans in the late eleven hundreds was nearly twice the size of the present building. It had transepts and a much longer chancel than the present 19th century one. It also had two extra bays at the west end of the nave, where the 16th century flint chequer work tower now stands.
The earliest part that remains is that which now forms the chancel arch. The surviving bays of the nave arcade, built around 1170-1180, have truly wonderful carving on most of the arches and capitals with no shortage of the customary zigzags and scallops as well as many less conventional motifs and designs.
The setting is lovely: You look up to the slope of the South Downs on the east side. The River Arun and the wild brooks are on the on the south and west sides.
The village has its own castle – in use as a hotel and wedding venue. Even if you are not staying at the hotel you can walk around the back of the building on your way into the wild brooks.
The Wild Brooks
Whilst you are in the area do visit the Pulborough Brooks. This is an Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) site – open throughout the year and a haven for birds. This area often floods in the winter.
Amberley Working Museum
Another place to see is the Working Museum. This is an interesting use of an old chalk pit above the railway station which is now home to old agricultural and industrial machinery, nearly all of it still functioning.
Many of the houses round here are truly beautiful, with thatched roofs and plenty of lovely old brick and tile work. You can see a couple in my photo below.