The chalk landscape of the South Downs has inspired many a writer and poet – and for good reason. Who can fail to be inspired by the gentle rolling hills with their own distinctive tones of greens and yellows, and when that is matched by a bright blue sky, it’s hard to imagine anywhere more picturesque!
The Downs has its famous destinations for scenery such as Beachy Head and Old Winchester Hill, but there are some lesser well-known beauty spots. Idsworth, a short drive north of Rowlands Castle in East Hampshire, is one of those. Idsworth features the stunning St Hubert’s Chapel, a unique church with examples of mediaeval painting on the north wall and surrounding the altar window on the east wall. We enjoyed a stroll up to the church and took in the stunning views. We visited on a scorching summer day and a service had just finished as the congregation gathered outside for tea and cake. How very English! The local folk were all very charming and friendly and even offered our party some meringues with fresh cream. Delicious, indeed.
It was fascinating to find out more about the church and its links to King Harold. The wall paintings, dating back to 1330, are really intricate and beautiful.
A major restoration appeal is currently under way to protect “the little church in the field” and let’s hope it gets lots of support as this is a real gem – locally and nationally! Find out more here.
After enjoying the views from the little bench outside the church, we took the short drive up to the lovely village of Chalton. The Red Lion pub is a great stop for a thirst-quenching drink or a bite to eat and the service is always with a smile.
After a lunch at the Red Lion, why not head to Butser Ancient Farm for a journey back in time? This open-air research laboratory offers a truly unique family day-out. The farm features archaeological reconstructions of ancient buildings from the Stone Age, Iron Age, Roman Britain and the Anglo-Saxon period. Amid the lovely scenery, it was very interesting to wander through each building and experience what life would have been like for ancient peoples. Listening to a informative talk around a crackling fire in the roundhouse was a highlight!
There’s lots of hands-on activities for families, but we most enjoyed feeding the goats and sheep. It was a laugh-a-minute! The log boat made for a great photo opportunity – although I did struggle to get out which was quite hilarious at the time!
After a fun-filled day in the Downs, Petersfield is only a short drive away and offers plenty of excellent eateries. We were all in the mood for a comforting Italian supper, so opted for Ask Italian. Their asparagus and pancetta carbonara was lovely and washed down very nicely with a glass of red. There’s lots of other charming restaurants to whet the appetite to suit all kinds of occasions. Choose the award-winning Michelin-starred JSW for something really special, or Lemongrass for sumptuous flavours from Thailand.
All in all, a lovely memorable day out on the South Downs!