On Saturday 10th June, ten of us met up in Littlehampton and walked a mile or two out of town to visit Climping village and their village open gardens day. The opportunity to nose around in other people’s gardens is too good to miss, especially when some of the properties they are attached to are nice looking houses in their own right, and each owner has done something different and individual with their outside space. Some are modest houses where the owner has to make clever use of small spaces, others are mansions with acres of sprawling grounds.
Around 16 gardens in this spread out village were open for the day, and the organisers set a programme and map to purchase to guide visitors around the area. They also arranged
for three minibuses to tour the sites around the village, so that visitors less mobile than us could still enjoy the gardens and not have to walk the 2 miles that we managed between the first and last on our own circuit.
We went a scenic route behind Littlehampton Golf Course and sand dunes along the beach, on a sunny, breezy day to our first open gardens, at the picturesque Bailiffs Court hotel. This is a lovely country house hotel in big grounds; the property is a medieval-style house with thatched cottages in the grounds, and a 13th century chapel, rose-clad courtyard garden and 30 acres of park lands and woods. While it wasn’t the most colourful garden, it does look like an ancient manor house, but it’s best kept secret is that it didn’t exist until 1927, the main house was
designed and built only then, for Lord Moyne, who was Walter Guinness at the time, of the famous brewing family. It’s not actually old at all.The designer gathered all sorts of old stone and woodwork, fireplaces, and relics from around the country assembled them into an attractive manor house. The owner then used it to host high society parties and events for about 10 years, until his wife died in 1939, and the building became less used, and later sold to be used as a hotel.
The outbuildings are much older, and are found around the parkland estate of this hotel’s garden.

After we toured the grounds here and admired the old stone buildings dotted around the estate, we walked on up the lane to find 3 cottage gardens, each different, ranging
from country cottages with Old English Roses, Mediterranean garden with hot tub, formal and informal gardens, farmyard, barns, secret walled gardens, and more.
It was soon time to stop for refreshments, the Black Horse Inn in the village served as a good lunch stop before we moved on into the afternoon and visited more homes and gardens.

Later, we reached the village hall, where afternoon teas were being served. Now, the lovely ladies of the village had probably been keenly baking scones all night, for the widely advertised cream teas, but probably didn’t realise that there are, in our circle of
COPSErs, one or two people who have been known to purchase and enjoy cream teas in a very wide range of fine establishments across the counties far and wide from Devon to Scotland (and that’s just in the last 6 months), and who might just compare their miniature, barely 5 centimetre diameter scones, to others they’ve eaten elsewhere. Just sayin’.
Also, while we are talking about catering, the organisers might like to note for next time we visit, that the best time to bring out a huge foot-high patisserie extravaganza of summer fruits layered between lashings of clotted cream
and piled high on several stacked tiers of home made Victoria sponge cake the size of pillows, is not just as COPSE are leaving the garden party and missing it. Next time, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled to avoid missed opportunities like that.
The village made up for their undersized scones with a chance to discover one of the most attractive housing estates in Sussex: this group of contemporary but traditional English cottages built around a lovely landscaped pond was one of the highlights of Climping. With a nice village community feel to this traffic-free quadrangle garden, anyone with £650,000 and more in his/her pocket might want to live in a home like this.
Old and new gardens together, pictured above and below, made this an interesting stroll around other people’s homes and outdoor spaces.
After an hour and a half walk back to Littlehampton, we enjoyed the riverside setting and cold refreshments of the Arun View pub with fish and chips before our train home at 9 in the evening.

Nigel