National Trust: Make the Most of Winter
PUBLISHED: 00:16 10 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:15 20 February 2013
Although the leaves may be falling, there is still plenty to see and do at National Trust properties and gardens in Sussex, as Emma Ward explains
It is a common misconception that, as the leaves start to fall, so The National Trust go into some kind of hibernation until the spring, perhaps popping up for a bit at Christmas before ducking back down again to drink another cup of tea and enjoy a lie-in. But the truth is that the organisation remains as busy as ever during the colder months and its houses and gardens certainly dont shut up shop completely.
While a lot of the houses in East and West Sussex do close the doors to their main buildings to allow conservation teams to prepare and protect the contents for winter, there is still plenty to see and do around Sussex in November.
Anyone wishing to get a head-start on Christmas decorations can join in a willow decorations workshop at Bodiam Castle near Robertsbridge on 27 November (places must be booked in advance by calling 01580 830074). The castle itself remains open during winter (November to February) and the medieval stronghold can look extraordinarily dramatic set against a wintery sky. Check online for full opening details.
Down the road at Batemans Rudyard Kiplings beloved home in Burwash the team is putting on a series of lecture lunches to entertain visitors throughout November, with topics ranging from Samuel Pepys to Oscar Wilde. Lecture lunches must be pre-booked on tel 01435 882302.
Over in West Sussex, there are also many options for a November day trip. Nymans Garden at Handcross remains fully open all winter (November to February again, check online for full details), with its restaurant selling warming lunches to revive chilly spirits after a stroll around the wintry garden. The garden will be celebrating National Tree Week from 26 November to 4 December with various seasonal activities. Petworth Park in Petworth itself offers equally appealing winter walking territory in its famous Pleasure Grounds, offering year-round horticultural interest. Its shop and restaurant are also open for hungry Christmas gift hunters and there are dozens of events on offer, from celebrating a traditional 1830s Christmas with the Third Earl to tours of the historic kitchens.
Another historic house that will remain semi-open this month is Uppark in South Petersfield, where H G Wells mother spent some time as housekeeper in the Victorian period. While the house and grounds are only partly open at this time of year (check online for full details), visitors can enjoy a range of seasonal events from November lecture lunches to childrens Christmas crafts in early December.
Finally, The National Trust also looks after thousands of countryside acres in Sussex. The stout-hearted amongst us who don coats, scarves and boots in all kinds of weather, can get right into the heart of National Trust countryside even during November. There are few places in Sussex lovelier than the pretty Cuckmere Valley in East Sussex or the far-reaching views over the South Downs and Sussex Weald to be found at Devils Dyke just north of Brighton.
With such a large array of options available, The National Trust hopes that lots of people will be lured out of their cosy houses this month, away from the TV and the commercial excess of the run-up to Christmas, to instead come and spend time with Britains nature and rich heritage. Weather permitting, of course