Attractions of West Sussex to the international set
With the polo season in full swing, wealthy individuals are flocking from around the world to West Sussex, England, home to the renowned Cowdray Park. This corner of England is more than just a pit-stop for high net worth international clients and many are realising the benefits of the county as a location to set up either a permanent residence or a country retreat.
Cowdray Park hosts up to 450 polo matches a year, including the illustrious Veuve Cliquot Gold Cup. This glamorous event draws the crème de la crème of London society down to West Sussex, as well as a number of the most wealthy of the international set. These polo aficionados wine and dine in a number of West Sussex establishments, for the rest of the year largely patronised only by local residents and London day-trippers. The Royal Oak, in Midhurst, is a favourite. This gastro pub has been praised by the editor of the Observer newspaper as offering “The best food I have ever tasted in a pub” and successfully balances English country charm with contemporary cuisine, an extensive cocktail menu and smoothly run service.
Although for the society set, polo may be a seasonal highlight, for the equestrian elite, it is a year-round way of life, and one for which they need a base in the area. “It’s a sport which is very much ingrained in the community of this part of the world” says Nick Ferrier, of Jackson-Stops & Staff, Midhurst. “The polo season, for the most part, brings a spring to the step of West Sussex residents and there is no finer sight than fields full of ponies and closely cut lawns ready for the season to begin. The sport attracts those with deep pockets and a far reaching international set to West Sussex. These buyers are looking for large properties close to polo grounds, such as Hyde Park House”. This contemporary family house comprises just over 5,200 sq ft of living space with a separate studio annexe and adjoins Heyshott Common and Ambersham Polo fields. Built of brick elevations with tile hanging beneath a clay tiled roof, the attention to detail is evident from the outside in, with impressive handmade oak framing to the front and rear of the house; oak, limestone and marble flooring; underfloor heating throughout the main house and oak framed doors and windows with brass fittings.
Similarly suitable for the polo mad is Plash Barn Farm, set in approximately 53.5 acres, a mile from the village of Lurgashall. Not only does it boast the facilities to keep the ponies happy, the main hall with galleried landing is an ideal setting for a glamorous post-match party – one can imagine scenes straight from a Jilly Cooper novel.
Of course, West Sussex is not, excuse the pun, a ‘one trick pony’. In addition to polo, the county allows for a range of other leisure activities. Chichester, on the coast, contains a popular yacht club, which host events throughout the sailing season. A number of fashionable eateries and bars have opened up in this bijoux cathedral city. A favourite is city centre Field and Fork, run by Roux-brothers trained chefs Sam and Janet Mahoney.
Just five miles to the north of Chichester is Goodwood racecourse, home to the annual Glorious Goodwood festival. At the heart of the Goodwood Estate is the Goodwood Hotel, within which is found The Richmond Arms, a bar and restaurant which prides itself on using the finest local Sussex produce. The majestic Goodwood House, home to the Dukes of Richmond for the past 300 years, is available to hire for weddings and other special celebrations.
With polo, sailing, horse racing and motor sport offering a full season of society events, West Sussex, more than any other county, offers a sophisticated balance of countryside pastimes with city establishments.
Nick Ferrier, director at Jackson-Stops & Staff Midhurst. Jackson-Stops has more than a century of experience in the prime property market with over 40 offices nationwide, from houses and apartments in London’s smartest districts, to country houses, farms and estates and listed buildings, from residential development and new homes sales to professional services.
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