Out and about with the National Trust

PUBLISHED: 00:16 25 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:32 20 February 2013

Out and about with the National Trust

Out and about with the National Trust

Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to forget about the cold February weather and cuddle up to a loved one, all in the name of Cupid's arrow. Emma Ward looks at what the National Trust in Sussex can offer for a romantic day out

This year, would-be Romeos looking for somewhere lovely to bring their partner would do well to consider a visit to the National Trust whose collection of houses and gardens in East and West Sussex have their own particular charm and romanticism.

For instance, devotees of medieval pomp and chivalry can spend the day at Bodiam Castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex. Here, tales of bold knights and fair princesses come alive within the romantic setting of the moated castle, while a special Lovers Lunch is available in the Terrace Room for 22 per person on 13 February from 11.30am. This two-course chocolate-themed meal can be booked in advance by calling 01580 830074.

Medieval fans can take their historical interest one step further and dress up as the aforementioned knights and princesses to pledge their troth and all things whimsical later on this month, during the half term holidays. Families can come along and Dress to Impress with Bodiam Castles collection of replica medieval armour and clothing. Costumes include knights, lords, princesses and even the court jester and are available to try on from 21 to 25 February (2 per person, 18 months to adult).

Meanwhile, for those who like to take long, romantic strolls with their sweetheart, Petworth Park in West Sussex is offering a special Romantic Ramble on 13 February starting at 11am. For 20, participants can enjoy an hour-long walk in the grounds, led by a National Trust guide, followed by a romantic Sunday roast lunch in the Audit Room Restaurant. Booking for this event is essential on 01798 342207.

More light-hearted loveliness is available at Petworth Park that afternoon, with a special free performance of Edinburgh Fringe favourite, Love Bytes, performed on 13 February by theatre group, Castaway in the Servants Hall at 2pm.

Alternatively, lovers of domestic bliss can go behind the scenes at Arts and Crafts showcase, Standen near East Grinstead. The house team will prepare to open the house up on 19, 20 and 26 February (from 11am), ready for the new Spring season in March. Visitors can watch them coax the arts and crafts furniture and ornaments back into their pre-winter glory with some tender loving care. The love felt for these precious objects will be made very apparent, as the team explain the techniques used to care for the house and its contents throughout the year.
Finally, anyone planning to propose to their intended this Valentines Day might like to consider a slightly different location such as the beautiful Sussex Weald countryside or the dramatic coastlines of the Seven Sisters or Birling Gap. Such proximity to nature should strengthen the resolve of a would-be suitor and inspire the hoped-for positive answer from his beloved.

As the popular song lyric tells us, love is all around us, and time spent at a National Trust house or garden in Sussex this Valentines Day is certainly a good way to celebrate that fact.

While the National Trust has laid on a programme of romantically inspired events to mark the loveliest day of the year, dont forget these other Sussex gems if planning a romantic day out.

Sheffield Park Garden
This delightful garden pays testament to the National Trusts dedication to maintaining previous owners passions. For not only has the original cricket pitch been restored in the heart of the garden, but the large adjoining parkland has been made available for Valentines Day ramblers to enjoy a romantic stroll in truly lovely surroundings.

Nymans, West Sussex
This twentieth-century Plantsmans garden contains numerous examples of plants and flowers speaking their own lovely language.
Batemans, East Sussex.
Beloved home of Rudyard Kipling, this beautiful house contains memorabilia from the authors time in India, as well as gifts to and from members of his adored family.
Opens 26 February.

Uppark, West Sussex
This imposing mansion was badly damaged by fire several years ago, but since then it has been painstakingly restored.
See the results of a true labour of love and follow your tour up with a pot of tea for two.
Opens 20 March.

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