A Foodie Weekend Escape in Petworth, West Sussex
The Foodie Travel Guide discovers why a weekend in Petworth, West Sussex, is the ideal tonic for those in search of a gastronomic break in a quintessential English country town.
Petworth in West Sussex is a quintessential English market town
Voted best place to live in the South East 2019 by the Sunday Times, this historic market town in West Sussex, known for its antique shops, is also one of the UK’s secret foodie hot spots.
Petworth does indeed tick a lot of delicious boxes. If your weekend break checklist looks something like this, keep reading to find out where to stay, what to eat and what to do in Petworth.
Warning: This article may cause you to start checking house prices on Zoopla.
10 Reasons to Visit Petworth, West Sussex:
- It has a welcoming and cosy country inn with stylish bedrooms
- There’s a buzzy local bistro serving cocktails and great food
- Petworth’s food shops & cafés are brimming with delicious Sussex produce
- Petworth House, one of the National Trust’s finest properties, is literally on the doorstep
- Visitors can spend hours pottering around Petworth’s many antique shops
- It’s located in great walking country in the heart of the South Downs National Park
- Petworth has an exciting year-round programme of cultural events
- The journey from London is easy and possible to do virtually car-free
- West Sussex has an abundance of local vineyards, breweries and distilleries
- Petworth is surrounded by historic Sussex towns and villages ripe for exploring
Where to Stay For a Weekend in Petworth
The Cosy Country Pub: The Angel Inn in Petworth
Bedroom at The Angel Inn, Petworth, West Sussex
I stayed at The Angel Inn in Petworth which is just 300 yards from the Market Square. The 17th century old coaching inn has recently been refurbished. It’s warm, welcoming and also, dog-friendly.
The seven bedrooms are beautifully appointed with muted colours, botanical prints and generous en-suite bathrooms. Expect traditional wooden beams, low doorways, creaky floorboards but also mod cons such as Nespresso machines.
Bathrooms come with deep baths, walk-in showers, fluffy bathrobes and local bath products. My favourite small touch – fresh milk in your room so you can start your day with a decent cup of tea.
Downstairs there’s a friendly bar and restaurant, popular with locals. For a quiet drink, you can get cosy in a nook by the fire or venture outside into the lovely garden.
Petworth’s Smart Holiday Cottage: Ryde House
Ryde House Petworth, West Sussex
Next door, Ryde House lends itself to short breaks and weekend getaways with friends. This pooch-friendly holiday cottage is in fact, a very fine Georgian villa with beautiful interiors and courtyard garden. Photo-shoot ready, it models giant lamps and custom-made mirrors all available to buy at Petworth’s luxury design emporium, Augustus Brandt.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: Planning a small wedding or special celebration? Booked together, Ryde House and The Angel, with its luxurious bridal suite, make a winning combination for a stylish and intimate gathering.
Bridal suite at The Angel Inn Petworth, West Sussex
Recommended Itinerary For a Weekend in Petworth
Friday Night: Pub Supper at The Angel Inn
Check in to your room and then head downstairs to The Angel bar for a glass of wine and a casual pub supper. Craft beer lovers may like to try a pint of Hepworth Blonde, a local organic lager with a crisp flavour that goes well with food.
From the kitchen, a choice of seasonal specials or classic pub comfort dishes: beer-battered fish and chips, burgers made with beef from the Goodwood estate and autumn salads. Eat here at lunctime and you can tuck in to delicious sandwiches.
Pub supper at The Angel Inn, Petworth (Image: John Blackwell)
Saturday Morning: Brunch at The Hungry Guest Cafe
Next morning, start your day with a relaxing brunch and the papers at The Hungry Guest Café. Located just off the Market Square and overlooking cobbled Lombard Street, the café serves tasty brunch dishes.
The Hungry Guest Cafe on Lombard Street, Petworth, West Sussex
Try The Hungry Guest Breakfast (the full works); its healthy rival: smashed avocado with home baked sourdough or pancakes with autumn berries and maple syrup. A plate of eggs royale with creamy hollandaise sauce and rich, velvety smoked salmon certainly set me up for a day exploring this quintessentially English market town.
Saturday Afternoon: Art Appreciation at Petworth House
Yes, you really can walk to Petworth House giving the town an extra gold star for being a car-free weekend destination. This magnificent stately home has been in the same family for over 900 years. A jewel in the National Trust’s crown, the house is known for its extraordinary art collection. Hanging on the walls you’ll see paintings by van Dyck and William Blake.
Petworth House in West Sussex is home to an extraordinary art collection
George Wyndham, third Earl of Egremont, regularly invited artists to stay at Petworth House including JMW Turner and John Constable. In the magnificent carved room, dominated by a huge portrait of Henry VIII strutting his stuff in white stockings and ermine, there are four landscapes by Turner.
With a collection of Chinese porcelain, a sculpture gallery and the Molyneux globe, the earliest English globe in existence, dating back to 1592, Petworth House is a joy to wander around. We easily spent a couple of hours immersing ourselves in its treasures.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: On weekdays, there are free 45-minute guided tours introducing visitors to the lives of those who transformed Petworth, told through the art collection.
The Carved Room at Petworth House, West Sussex
Don’t miss taking a peek inside the servants’ quarters housed in a separate building opposite. The grand kitchen gives you a flavour of what life must have been like ‘below stairs’. No doubt Downton Abbey’s Mrs Patmore would feel at home surrounded by the gleaming batterie de cuisine with its collection of shiny copper pans.
Psst. Actor, Hugh Bonneville (aka, Lord Grantham), lives nearby and has narrated a film about the merits of Petworth.
The Great Kitchen at Petworth House, West Sussex
Augustus Brandt at Newlands House
Continue your art appreciation at Augustus Brandt, Petworth’s luxury destination store. It holds regular exhibitions in its dedicated gallery space.
Located inside the Grade II listed Newlands House, there are 17 rooms showcasing a carefully curated collection of both antique and contemporary designer furniture; artworks (I spotted a Picasso), and photography.
There’s also a smaller store selling homewares and gifts in Market Square. (Note to prospective Petworth house buyers, once you’ve been shopping here, you may need to search for a large country pile).
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: Look out for Petworth Farmers’ Market that takes place on the last Saturday of each month.
Augustus Brandt store on Petworth’s Market Square
Saturday Evening: Drinks & Dinner at The E. Street Bar & Grill
There’s a friendly vibe in this smart and contemporary eatery. At the bar, local antique dealers, classic car owners down for Goodwood Revival and weekenders, chat over the pop of a champagne cork and the clink of glasses.
E. Street Bar & Grill, Petworth, West Sussex
Start with a cocktail. Perhaps a lavender martini or a glass of English sparkling wine from nearby Nyetimber. Gin connoisseurs can ponder over 60 gin varieties. For a local gin, try Chilgrove. Its base spirit is produced from distilled grapes. Once redistilled with 11 botanicals, it makes a gin to suit all seasons.
Provenance is at the heart of the restaurant’s ethos. The menu at the E. Street Bar & Grill champions local or sustainably sourced produce including lamb from the nearby Goodwood estate; South Downs game; and Highland Wagu from Perthshire.
Wagu beef from Perthshire is served in the restaurant
Dig in to starters of tuna carpaccio with ponzu and black sesame, or crispy squid rings with preserved lemon aioli. Hungry Guest bread served with chicken butter is sublime. We happily munched our way through a trio of rosemary and potato bread, soda bread and sourdough.
Order a main course of fish or meat from the grill and it will come with a sauce of your choice and triple cooked chips. Spatchcock poussin with wild garlic butter was earthy and comforting. For dessert, a delicate lemongrass and cardamom panna cotta with coconut sorbet, orange and granola.
No room for dessert? Sip a cheeky cocktail from the liquid dessert menu. The key lime pie martini would certainly end your meal with zing.
Sunday Morning: A Walk in Petworth Park
Walk off the previous night’s dinner with a brisk morning walk around Petworth Park where a herd of 700 deer roam freely. Sunny day? You can buy everything you need for a picnic from The Hungry Guest Shop & Deli.
Follow your walk with a potter around Petworth’s independent shops.
Petworth Park, West Sussex
Mid Morning: Coffee and a Pastry at The Hungry Guest Shop & Deli
Refuel with a coffee and yummy chocolate brownie at The Hungry Guest shop. The store came runner up as ‘Specialist Food Shop’ at the Guild of Fine Food Shop of the Year Awards 2019. Everything in the store from the home-baked artisan bread (preservative free) to the cheese in the temperature-controlled cheese room, has been carefully selected for its taste, quality and provenance.
Pastries at The Hungry Guest Shop & Deli, Petworth, West Sussex
The range of home-cooked ready meals is a firm favourite with locals. There’s a well-stocked drinks section; juicy tomatoes from Nutbourne (the Gladwin brothers’ family farm); a myriad of jams, chutneys, sauces and dips; and a fantastic range of ingredients for keen cooks and bakers. As the M&S advert would say, “The Hungry Guest isn’t just any store”. This is a store where you can easily pick up octopus, the first of the season’s Vacherin cheese and dukkah. Ready to move here now foodies?
The Hungry Guest shop stocks a range of locally sourced and home made produce
Don’t go home without stocking up on some of the Hungry Guest’s Great Taste Award winners. The blackcurrant and damson jam spread on sourdough toast is divine. Other shining stars include the rosemary and potato bread, the rocket pesto and the venison and wild mushroom stroganoff (a great dinner party cheat).
If after all your exploring, shopping and eating in Petworth, you still have the energy to cook a Sunday roast when you get home, don’t miss the excellent Hungry Guest Butchers (open 7 days a week). It sells locally reared meat and makes it own delicious sausages.
Great Taste award winner: Hungry Guest blackcurrant and damson jam
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: If you’re looking for the ultimate Christmas gift for a foodie this year, The Hungry Guest’s luxury Christmas hamper offers the very best of Sussex produce.
Other Must-Visit Shops in Petworth
Petworth Antiques Market
One of the best places to start hunting for quirky pieces is Petworth Antiques Market on East Street. It’s a treasure trove of individual stalls selling collectables such as vintage clothing, books, china and artwork.
Petworth Antiques Market
This lovely interiors store on Lombard Street sells beautiful homewares and antique painted furniture. On display, Cornishware in every colour, cabbage leaf plates, scented candles, printed tea towels and oven gloves.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: Keen antique hunter? Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair will take place at Petworth House (15-17 May, 2020).
Things to do Near Petworth
Long weekend? If you have more time to explore the surrounding area, worth a pootle by car are these local tasting experiences:
Go Wine Tasting in Arundel at Digby Fine English
With both a castle and cathedral, Arundel is another Sussex town full of charm, history and character. For wine lovers, the allure of Arundel has gone up a notch since the arrival of Digby Fine English who opened a wine tasting room earlier this year. The wine producer is visibly flying the flag for English sparkling wine in the heart of Sussex wine country.
Visitors can choose from The Digby Tasting Flight (£15 for three 50ml pours) or The Mini Tasting (£5 for two 25ml pours). What makes Digby different is that it’s a negociant. Instead of cultivating its own vineyard, the wine producer selects the best quality grapes from vineyards in Sussex, Dorset, Kent and Hampshire to create its own award-winning blends of English sparkling wine.
Foodie Travel Guide Tip: We particularly loved the Digby Fine English 2010 Vintage Brut, an elegant blend of the classic champagne grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Can’t make it to Arundel? Digby Fine English is available to buy in Waitrose, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
The Wine Tasting Room at Digby Fine English in Arundel, West Sussex
Visit a Local Sussex Vineyard
There are 10 vineyards in West Sussex. One of the closest to Petworth and probably the most well known, is Nyetimber but it’s only open to the public on a handful of open days throughout the year. Nutbourne vineyard, near Pulborough, and Tinwood, near Chichester, both open their doors to visitors. Tinwood is also one of the best places in the UK for a vineyard stay.
Tour Goodwood House Followed by Afternoon Tea
A 25-minute drive from Petworth is Goodwood House. Built in 1600, the house is the seat of the Duke of Richmond. Visitors can take a guided tour of the State Apartments and afterwards, sit down to a traditional afternoon tea in the magnificent ballroom.
Petworth Events Taking Place This Autumn:
- Mirella Ricciardi Exhibition (21 September-20 November 2019), World renowned photographer, Mirella Ricciardi, will exhibit iconic and unseen works, in upcoming exhibition ‘Past and Present’ at Augustus Brandt Gallery
- Petworth Literary Festival (26 October-03 November), Listen to some of the UK’s favourite authors and poets talk about their work and give readings. Previous authors and poets have included: Michael Morpurgo, Fay Weldon, Sebastian Faulks and Julian Fellowes
- Hungry Guest Street Party (29 November 2019): The annual party takes place on Middle Street in Petworth and brings together local food and drink suppliers to showcase an array of seasonal delights. The Hungry Guest chefs will serve up Christmassy street food, accompanied by live music and a party atmosphere
How to Get to Petworth
Petworth’s railway station has long since been converted into a B&B where you can stay in the Old Station House or converted Pullman carriages. The nearest station to Petworth is now Pulborough where you can pick up a taxi for the 5-mile journey.
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The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.