Petworth, West Sussex: The Thinking Goodwood-Goer’s Base of Choice

The words “Goodwood” and “Accommodation” employed in the same sentence can send shivers down the spines of people who like to make the most of the 12000-acre Sussex estate’s summer calendar – especially those who would rather experience epicurean pleasures and luxurious comfort between their time spent trackside or perusing the paddocks.

Rather than pick between the modest selection of pubs and B&Bs sprinkled around the estate’s immediate Chichester surrounds, you’ll do better to look further afield: notably, towards a small town 12 miles to the north of Goodwood, nestling in the heart of the South Downs National Park.

Petworth, West Sussex, is a soul-soothing place to spend some down time. A major hub for antiques and the arts, it’s a pleasantly sleepy, rustic market town surrounded by patchwork-quilt swathes of countryside as well as the 700-acre park around the 17th-Century Petworth House, an unspoilt example of an English landscape designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown found a short stroll from the town’s delectable selection of shops and restaurants.

We’re talking, here, about the kind of place where the pastoral serenity is only occasionally punctured, and even then only by welcome sounds such as the baritone thrum of classic cars firing into action, or the hissing and parping of an enthusiast driving a steam engine down the main thoroughfare.  Adding to all this, the town’s appeal has been given a couple of steroid boosts of late, one being the newly opened New Street Bar & Grill (New St, Petworth GU28 0AS, newstreetbarandgrill.co.uk).

The cuisine here is all about top-grade local ingredients (think Brixham Lemon Sole, Goodwood organic beef and the like), prepared with commonsensical aplomb and served in abundance (those who crave course after course of avocado foam and slithers of crab-apple dipped in a hens’ yolks should look elsewhere). In keeping with the emphasis on localism, we recommend washing down any dish with a bottle of the crisp and complex cuvee produced at the Nyetimber vineyard nine or so miles away.

The restaurant’s ambience and décor also look set to ensure it reaches ‘destination eatery’ status. Contemporary yet cosy, it has a set of rooms, each with their own distinct character (think antique candelabras and eclectic furniture juxtaposed with modern paintings and prints by David Carr, John Piper, Marc Chagall and Herbert Dicksee, tie-dyed scatter cushions and other tastefully quirky touches), all laid out in such a way that guests forget that there are other diners around them – an affect enhanced by the cosy acoustics and lighting.

Serious foodies are also catered for here, thanks to a seasonal menu whose current highlights are Goodwood Southdown lamb chump and smoked haddock and salmon fishcake. The gastronomically inclined, meanwhile, should also visit The Hungry Guest Shop (Middle Street, Petworth GU28 0BE, thehungryguest.com), a bakery and delicatessen whose drool-worthy wares (including those in its purpose-built cheese room, offering wares from Sussex, Britain and Europe) have seen it win plaudits including a place on Vogue Magazine’s list of the top 100 shops outside London.

“The design company we used for New Street Bar & Grill is LSM Design, based in Brighton, who are experienced in restaurant design,” says Managing Director Piero Sardano. “Over the years I’ve opened and refurbished many restaurants, bars and cafes and have used a number of different designers and architects, and have often had to battle with them to keep them in line with the brief. A number of them go off on a tangent, ignoring the brief and the budget and do their own thing, trying to win awards for their work.”

Accommodation wise, the Angel Inn (Angel St, Petworth GU28 0BG, angelinnpetworth.co.uk) has just had a renovation which saw the rooms re-done in understated, organic hues that complement the building’s medieval origins handsomely. Serious foodies are also catered for here, thanks to a seasonal menu whose current highlights are Goodwood Southdown lamb chump and smoked haddock and salmon fishcake.

All in all, it’s a town that will offer sybaritic evening respite from the putatively “glorious” but, let’s be honest, crowded bustle of a summer event at Goodwood.

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