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Our little black book of enchanting places

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Take five at Cowdray

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Cowdray House, West SussexEven if you don’t know much about polo, you probably know that Cowdray is where it’s played most in England. And it’s true that Viscount Cowdray’s 16,500-acre estate in the South Downs National Park has been the home of British polo for more than 100 years. Today it hosts some 450 matches a season. But it turns out that polo is only part of the Cowdray story. Here are five other great reasons to head for this bucolic corner of West Sussex this summer. 

Cowdray House

You can rent the delightful former home of the 4th Viscount and Viscountess of Cowdray and their children for exclusive use. The house (above), set in 110 acres of private gardens and grounds, sleeps up to 30 in 15 bedrooms, including a family suite with its own sitting room and sofa bed. With indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a croquet lawn and a bowling alley, it's ideal for formal occasions (it has a wedding licence) or relaxed house parties. Price on application.

Wellbeing

The Cowdray Therapy Rooms is a dedicated centre where qualified acupuncturists, osteopaths, nutritional therapists, physiotherapists and mindfulness specialists practise. Regular classes include meditation, chanting, pilates, yoga and mindfulness, plus something that sounds rather delightful called Joyful Dance.Food & drink

Described as ‘the Fortnum & Mason of West Sussex’ by none other than Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham, aka actor Hugh Bonneville, the Cowdray Farm Shop & Café has been shortlisted in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2017. There's estate venison on sale in the Butchery section while the freshly laid eggs come in distinctive Cowdray yellow cartons topped with the estate's griffin crest. We love the Juice Bar (above), featuring take-away raw, organic, cold-pressed juices.Art classes

Cowdray’s original Tudor estate house was partially destroyed by fire in 1793 but the ruins are still used for some activities, including regular five-day art workshops held in the old kitchen tower (above: Lady Cowdray in Cowdray's art studio). Cowdray’s Artist-in-Residence, David Cranswick, is the course instructor and this year's courses include Art (24-28 April),  in which students will be taught the traditional technique of egg tempera painting and gilding techniques, and Landscape Painting (3-7 July). £385 per person, to include all materials. Holiday cottages

Cowdray has recently refurbished four des-res holiday cottages, including Broomhill (above). The self-catering cottages are clustered around a shared garden just behind Benbow Pond, and within striking distance of key Estate landmarks. Polo spectating and lessons, golf, fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting and wildlife outings are among the nearby leisure pursuits available. From £300-£786 per night

 

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

 

 

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