The word ‘unspoilt’ is often overused in travel, but a very special area of West Sussex along the coast between Bognor Regis and Brighton can truly claim to be exactly that.
The village of Climping and the Climping Gap was preserved when Walter Guinness, the 1st Baron Moyne – a member of the brewing dynasty – found out that a housing estate was proposed next to his beloved Sussex seaside hideaway. He decided there was only one thing to do – buy the 700 acres of land himself.
This he did in the 1920s, and now all guests at his former holiday home in the village, the utterly charming and luxurious Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa, can enjoy the fruits of his efforts.
The beach and its sand dunes, a short walk from the hotel, are listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In the nearby West Beach Local Nature Reserve, walkers enjoy discovering the unique ecosystem.
The village itself is thought to have been settled by the Romans, then in 1080 the Normans built the church and its windmill, now a private home.
Bailiffscourt itself is styled as a group of buildings that looks like a small village of ancient homes. It was, however, built in the 20th Century in medieval style loved by Lady Moyne as an ideal place for lavish weekend parties for the glitterati of the day.
The beams, flagstone floors and stone mullioned windows make it hard to believe this was not built in the 13th Century. This is because much of the building material was, unusually and cleverly for the day, reclaimed from structures of the appropriate period.
My signature room, Baylies was truly magnificent. The four-poster bed sits under a dark-beamed vaulted ceiling. Comfy sofas lure you to sit in front of the stone fireplace and there were logs ready to light in the hearth. The vast bathroom, with twin roll-top baths, is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Today, Bailiffscourt is still something of a favourite with the rich and famous, many from the world of entertainment. While I stayed for a weekend away, one guest arrived by helicopter.
While the house guests of the 1920s could enjoy parties, a game of tennis or croquet and strolls around the 30 acres of grounds, as guests can today, one huge bonus for us modern visitors is the hotel spa with treatment rooms and indoor and outdoor pools.
Dining at the hotel is a particular delight, with the imaginative use of the best quality and freshest local produce, a particular policy of this and the other two exclusive hotels in the Historic Sussex Hotels’ group.
Places to visit:
When you are able to tear yourself away from this idyllic spot there are many places to visit. We chose a few hours at Petworth House & Park, which is 30 minutes away, on our way home north. This late 17th Century house is home to the National Trust’s finest and most important art collection. It’s 700 acre deer park is also a popular destination.
There is alsoArundel Castle, just a 15-minute drive away. Amberley Working Museum, a 36-acre open air museum highlighting the industrial heritage of the South East, is 25 minutes away.
And Littlehampton and Bognor Regis are also nearby.
- Stays at Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa are priced from £249 per night, based on two sharing in a classic double room, mid-week, on a B&B basis.
- Stays in the Baylies Suite are priced from £555 on a B&B basis, and £615 with dinner included.
Visit the website at www.hshotels.co.uk or call 01903 723511 to book.