In the heart of Petworth, on the edge of the Shimmings Valley, The Angel is the perfect base from which to explore West Sussex
Tucked in between the town and the Shimmings Valley in Petworth’s engaging market town, The Angel dates from the 16th century as a house and has been welcoming guests as an inn for 300 years; the legend is that the Pilgrim Fathers, en route to Southampton and the Mayflower in 1620, rested there and named it The Angel, as they did all the inns that took them in. It has the established, beamed interior of a historic inn (relaxed enough for that the locals to drink there) and a large leafy garden, plus all the comforts of home, or better: fabulous locally-sourced food, chic and individual bedrooms, crisp white sheets and proper showers.
Nowadays you don’t have to be sailing to New England; you can swish down the A3 in an hour and book in for the night or the weekend, for racing or motor racing at Goodwood or high-goal polo at Cowdray Park, to visit the theatre in Chichester or just walk on the downs of the South Downs National Park.
Petworth has been a market town since the 1700s or even earlier, and the annual town fair dates back to the reign of Richard the Lionheart in the twelfth century; it’s a little gem of cobbled streets and pretty houses with hidden courtyards. Walk 300 yards down the hill from the Angel and there’s a shop for everyone, whether you’re looking for a dress for your daughter’s wedding, an antique rocking-horse, some heavenly underwear or a selection of artisan cheeses and a first-edition copy of Dickens.
Come and stay for Petworth Festival in July or the Literary Festival in October, or go to Petworth House and look at the huge collection of paintings and the breathtaking carvings of Grinling Gibbons. The house was rebuilt by the ‘Proud’ Duke of Somerset to rival the Baroque palaces of Europe, and it shows. Constable described it as ‘the house of art’; Turner worked and painted there, and the landscaped deer park was one of Capability Brown’s most ambitious projects. If you bring your dog to stay in the Angel you can walk for hours in the 700-acre park. Or, within 30 minutes of Petworth there are wine tours and tastings at many of the local Sussex Vineyards – Stopham, Nutbourne, Nyetimber - castles to visit at Arundel and Amberley, the Roman villa at Bignor or the Cass sculpture museum at Goodwood.
Or just come for a restorative break, let The Angel’s wings fold about you and tuck yourself away on a leather sofa by the log fire, or wander round the town so that you feel you’ve earned a superb lunch: try the organic Goodwood beef and home-made ginger ice cream. Either way, you’ll be back.