In the 19th century it was possible to travel by boat from London to Littlehampton on the south coast passing through Weybridge, Guildford, Pulborough and Arundel.
The route was via the rivers Wey and Arun, linked between by the 23-mile Wey and Arun Canal. This formed a vital link, the only one between the south coast and the river Thames, linking London and the English Channel.
Sadly the route fell into disuse when railways became established. Fortunately volunteers are now restoring the waterway…
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!
I recommend spending time there and visiting the house and gardens at 15th century St Mary’s. This timber framed building was constructed around 1470 by the bishop of Winchester. At that time pilgrims used the house as an inn on their way to the tomb of St Thomas of Canterbury.
The house is open from the end of April to 28 Sept 2017 on Sundays, Thursdays and Bank Holiday Mondays (& Wednesdays in August) from 2 – 6 p.m.
Entry costs: Adults £10; Concessions £9; Children £5
There are also some lovely cottage style tea rooms.
The George At Burpham is a unique 17th century inn. Burpham itself is a charming small village near Arundel in the South Downs National Park.
The pub has an inviting modern interior and serves seasonal, locally-sourced, freshly-cooked food, beers, wines and spirits.
It is locally owned and aims to live up to the ambition . . . “By the locals, for the locals, of the locals – and a very warm welcome to everyone.”. . . including muddy-booted walkers and well-behaved dogs!
They serve delicious British food – always home cooked with the freshest seasonal ingredients, locally sourced where possible.
This pub is close to footpaths so is a good place to stop if you are hiking locally
St Botolph’s Church has been referred to by a historian as one of the ‘lost downland churches”. It is in a peaceful spot next to the River Adur. Pay a visit and admire the clean lines and perfect setting of the small, attractive church!
The building dates to about 950 AD, and Saxon construction can be seen in the south wall and chancel arch. The slender tower, though it looks Saxon, is actually a 13th century addition, as is the chancel, which replaced a Saxon apse. You will be able to see an original round-headed Saxon window at the west end of the south wall. The church also has fragments of medieval wall painting …
The Saxons took advantage of the power vacuum in Sussex left behind by the Romans when they could no longer afford to maintain outlying parts of their empire in the fifth century. When the people of Sussex asked Rome for help in defending themselves from Saxon raiders, the Empire decided it couldn’t afford to strike back and left Britain to fight for its own future.
The name Sussex comes from an adaptation of the name South Saxons.
This lovely small church is just a couple of miles from Steyning & within easy reach of Brighton. I have walked there from nearby Bramber following the River Adur.
The fascinating Weald and Downlands Museum at Singleton has an annual historic gardens weekend each year in late June.
Find out about their six period gardens and meet their gardening team.
Discover the herbs, vegetables and flowers that rural households would have grown and used. This will explain what people did from Tudor times right up to the Victorian era.
Find out how they use the plants grown in the Museum’s gardens for medicinal and culinary purposes, as well as natural dyeing and other uses. You can also learn how important gardens were to the ordinary working rural people of the past and how they would have been managed.
There will be displays, guided walks and talks, plus a chance to view their short film about the gardens. You can also chat to their gardening team and see the Museum’s Herbarium.