Giles Kime visited the Honeybridge Estate, a South Downs house available for short stays, and found that splendid isolation is achievable close to home.
There’s an assumption that in order to get away from it all in Britain requires a journey to some far-flung corner; Northumberland, perhaps or Skye, both of which are lovely but a slog for anyone tethered to the south.
Yet even in more overcrowded corners of the country, pockets of isolation can be found, hiding in plain sight. One is the Honeybridge Estate that is tucked deeply into South Downs National Park, with timeless views of woodland and pasture. It is easy to feel that, in this 17-acre world of your own, that you could be anywhere — although perhaps not within easy hitting distance of London.
With an elegant Regency-style main house, a cottage, barn and range of activities, from fishing and tennis to swimming and whizzing down a zip wire it offers a heady mix of opportunities for an old fashioned, multigenerational break.
For years this was a family home for grandparents and their visiting children and grandchildren with the result that it has a charming and intimate feel even after a major overhaul.
In the main house the paint is barely dry after a root and branch renovation that has created a seamless blend of classic good looks and modern luxuries, not least a vast indoor swimming pool with hot tub and sauna — and accommodation for 16.
The house, barn and cottage can all be let individually by taking them all would provide opportunities to accommodate well over thirty in comfort for high days, holidays and gatherings of even the most sprawling clans.
The Honeybridge Estate, Honeybridge Estate, Ashurst, West Sussex — prices start at £1,000 for a two-night stay. www.honeybridgeestate.co.uk
Things to do
The chances are that you’ll never need — or want — to stray far. But anyone who knows the South Downs will be familiar with the opportunities it offers; Petworth, Cowdray, Uppark are within easy reach, as are The Weald and Downland Museum near Goodwood. For shopping and eating, the charming lanes of Chichester and bright lights of Brighton are also within reach.
Another attraction for anyone interested in the environment is the Knepp Estate that surrounds a castle designed by John Nash. Formerly the 3,500 acres that surround it was devoted to arable and dairy but twenty years ago emphasis was put on regeneration and organic farming with free roaming herds and rewilding projects. Exploring Knepp is a great way to spend time — if you can bear to drag yourself away from the sleepy embrace of Honeybridge.
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