The sun was streaming through the windows as we pulled back the curtains of our hotel room. The Premier Inn Worthing had been a good choice with its seafront location and our three night stay had been very comfortable. The Coastliner 700 bus service which we had used to get to and from Brighton continues onto Littlehampton ten miles away. After checking out of our hotel we headed there by bus as the stop was just outside the door whilst the railway station was a 20 minute walk away.
We met up with my husband in one of the town centre car parks and after putting our bags in the car boot we set off to explore the town and find somewhere for breakfast. At the head of the town’s high street stands an attractive clock tower which was commissioned by the town council in 2000 to celebrate the millennium.
It was a Sunday morning and many of the shops were still closed but gladly the George Inn had already opened and this was where we enjoyed cooked breakfasts before continuing along the high street towards the seafront.
Littlehampton is located on the coastal plain and developed from a fishing community to become a holiday resort in the late 18th century. The town prospered as a resort in Victorian times with the opening of the railway line and is still popular today with day trippers fancying a day at the seaside.
Reaching the promenade we had a walk along the East Pier, a simple wooden construction with a quaint lighthouse at one end. The pier sits where the River Arun meets the sea and as we strolled along the tide was coming in at a rapid rate causing boats making their way out of the marina to struggle with the strong current.
Standing in front of the pier was a wooden stall selling fresh seafood and I was tempted into buying a dressed crab to take home for dinner but decided not to, as it was a long way to take it without refrigeration.
Talking about seafood, along this stretch of the seafront young children were leaning over the railings of the estuary wall with their crab lines hoping to attract some tasty morsels to place in their buckets. Fish and chips shops, cafes and gift shops selling buckets, spades and other seaside necessities overlooked the sea and moving along further these shops gave way to brightly coloured waterside apartments.
As we approached the RNLI station at Fisherman’s Quay we could see the lifeboat volunteers busy towing one of the town’s two lifeboats from the water. Visitors are welcome to inspect the boathouse which has a small gift shop attached. A sign informed us that Littlehampton Life Boat Station is one of the busiest on the south coast with an increasing number of people getting into difficulties on inflatables and needing to be rescued. Between 1967 and 2016 the BBC children’s television programme Blue Peter supported this lifeboat station through fundraising. I used to watch Blue Peter as a child and again a little more recently with my own children but have only vague recollections of the programme’s connection with lifeboats.
From the lifeboat station we retraced our steps back to the car deciding to head off in the direction of Petworth 21 miles inland, just off the A272. Petworth is home to the National Trust stately home Petworth House and as we are members, it seemed an ideal opportunity to take a look. It was a Sunday afternoon in early April and it wasn’t easy to find a space in the car park but after driving around awhile, one eventually became available. Standard admission to Petworth House is £14.90 but if you are considering visiting several properties then annual membership as we have offers unlimited visits, free parking and good value.
The house is set in Petworth Deer Park, its gardens designed by Lancelot Capability Brown and during our visit were ablaze with spring colour, sadly though we were unable spot any deer. Visitors take self guided tours and we started with the servants’ quarters comprising a large kitchen with bells, butler’s pantry, scullery and wash house. These rooms gave us a feel of what life must have been like below stairs in such a grand house.
Attached to the servants’ quarters was an attractive cafe where we enjoyed a welcoming pot of tea before continuing on to the main house across the courtyard. Petworth House was completed in 1682 and its staterooms contain the finest collection of paintings and sculptures owned by the National Trust.
Unlike most of the other National Trust properties we’ve visited Petworth contained very little furniture and although beautifully decorated with wall hangings and art work, I got the impression that it was more like walking around an art gallery than a stately home. I actually preferred the servants’ quarters as they were the only part for the property furnished as they would have been at that time.
The house has a pedestrian entrance in the town centre so we left by that door so that we could enjoy a stroll through the picturesque small town from which the house takes its name. We wandered along winding, cobbled streets admiring absolutely beautiful cottages and houses, the sort of which can be found on chocolate box lids and the subject of jigsaw puzzles.
Petworth might only be small but it has an international reputation as a leading antiques centre with more than 30 shops dotted along its narrow streets. It’s such a charming rural town and I’d definitely recommend a brief look if you are visiting the area. The town does not have its own railway station with the nearest one being in Pulborough which lies four and a half miles away.
It was then back to our car for the long drive home. We were returning north with fond memories of a lovely few days exploring so many lovely places along the Sussex coast.
If you have enjoyed reading this post, you may also be interested in the following: