Lewes Castle

Steeped in history and brimming with character and charm, the County Town of Lewes sits just 10-miles from Brighton & Hove, surrounded by the beautiful South Downs countryside. It is home to an 11th Century Castle, Anne of Cleaves’ House and Harvey’s Brewery, plus it also enjoys a thriving antiques & art scene which have put the town on the map for anyone visiting Sussex. 

The very name ‘Lewes’ is synonymous with its annual Bonfire Night which is the largest November 5th event in the world. Carnival comes to town with pagan processions, traditions, costumes, fire sites and fireworks which attract people from far and wide – it’s quite the spectacle. 

November festivities aside, there is plenty to entertain you in Lewes with art galleries, antique emporiums, museums and many cafes, local pubs and boutique shops, all serving and selling artisan produce made with love by local businesses and residents. 

Take a walk through the cobbled streets and sample some fine craft ales on a brewery tour. Stroll along the river with the swans or seek out Downland public foot paths, drinking in the views over Sussex for miles around (and stopping off at one of the many pubs en route). From the Lewes Castle to Lewes Priory, there are numerous historic sights to explore, so it is easy to fill a weekend or a fortnight here. 

colourful houses in Lewes


Lewes was founded in the 6th Century by the Saxons. The name Lewes is derived from a Saxon word, ‘hluews’ which meant slopes or hills – which seems an obvious choice once you’ve walked up the main High Street!

Saxon Lewes was a busy little town and river port with grain and wool being its largest exports. Lewes had weekly markets and in the 10th Century, it also had two mints, showing it was a place of some importance. Brighton was a mere fishing village in Medieval times…Lewes was where it was at. 

The Normans later built the castle and the Priory (small abbey) which was later dissolved by King Henry VIII. The castle remains one of the most visited attractions in Lewes and the remains of the priory can be visited for free. The grounds are very beautiful and often host summer celebrations and historical tours and talks. 

The railway reached Lewes in 1846 which meant the end of Lewes as a port as it was now easier to transport goods by train than by water. Lewes was made a borough in 1881 with a new Town Hall built in 1893. Victoria Hospital was built in 1910, and in 1920 Wynne Baxter gave the Pells to the town of Lewes; a large pond and recreation ground formed from part of the River Ouse. By 1860 this also included the Pells Pool which remains today and is the oldest freshwater outdoor public swimming baths in the UK. Be warned – even in the height of summer it is freezing cold!

Where to eat in Lewes?

Nestled into the South Downs countryside, the eateries of Lewes regularly serve only the finest, locally sourced produce. From Sunday Roasts to al la carte menus, or homemade cakes and savouries, there is always a delicious bite to be found. You’ll also find recognisable high street chains such as Pizza Express or Cote, – so the cuisine of Lewes is varied, delicious, inventive and will suit all holiday budgets.

The Swan Inn

The Swan Inn sits at the eastern end of Southover Street, making it the ideal lunch or dinner stop after visiting The Priory or Anne of Cleaves’ House – or it forms the starting point and finishing point of many circular Downland walks. 

Not only do they serve an incredible array of ales, wines, spirits and non-alcoholic fayre, their food is exceptional. They have a sun-filled beer garden, friendly staff, a vinyl only music policy – and they’re also welcoming to your four-legged friends. If you are visiting Lewes on a Sunday, their roasts are not to be missed. Serving a minimum of three different options for vegetarians and vegans, alongside locally sourced meat options, they have something for everyone. 

Robson’s of Lewes

Sometimes there’s nothing you need more on a Sunday morning than a full English breakfast (be that a veggie or vegan option too)!! Robson’s of Lewes is the longest established coffee shop and café in Lewes having been under the same ownership for 25-years, so they have honed the art of the perfect breakfast, homemade cakes and even the gingerbread latte! Their many, many 5* reviews on TripAdvisor speak for themselves. 


If you’re after something special, celebratory or indulgent – look no further than Fork Restaurant. Fork is a neighbourhood restaurant in Lewes serving modern British cooking.

Their constantly changing, seasonal menus reflect their support for local farmers and artisan producers. Their meat, vegetables, fruit and cheeses come from small local farms, while their fish is fresh off the boat at Newhaven. This small, organic-feeling independent restaurant comes complete with a Scandi-style interior and lovely staff, making it the perfect place for nice meal out.

The Depot Cinema, Restaurant & Bar

The Depot is a complete night out in the heart of Lewes; tucked in next to the station. It is, ostensibly, a cinema, yet it is home to much, much more than popcorn and movies. Glass-clad and contemporary, its southerly wall opens completely to a large garden where you can sit and enjoy a drink or dine in the sunshine during summer on comfortable sofas below canvas sails and parasols. Their menu is subline, and very reasonably priced considering the quality, alongside a sophisticated range of wines, beers and non-alcoholic drinks. During winter, you can sit inside with coffee and cake and simply watch the world go by. 

Walking & Cycling

From strolling around the village to walking the South Downs Way, Lewes is the perfect base from which to start a rural adventure. There are several mapped footpaths leading through the patchwork fields at the base of the Downs, or up to the windmill where the panoramic views over the county are breath-taking. 

You can jump on the train at Lewes and go one or two stops to Firle or Berwick to climb Firle Beacon or Mount Caburn; both favoured spots for paragliders – and being the Sussex Countryside, you are never far from a pub serving delicious local foods and a pint of Best

If you want to stay closer to the town centre, Grange Gardens are a joy for summer picnics, coffee and a stroll, as are the grounds of Lewes Priory where you may even see a jouster during a summertime Medieval event! 

Streets in Lewes

Art & Culture

From Glyndebourne Opera House, to Chalreston Manor and the many art-studios and galleries dotted around Lewes and its surrounding villages, there is no shortage of creativity, art and culture in the town. It was once home to writer Virginia Woolf, and a favourite country retreat for the Bloomsbury set, and you can still visit these houses for tours and events.

In September, the full range of the artistic talent of Lewes is showcased in their annual arts event, Artwave where artist residents open their homes for an Open House trail through the town, and the streets and galleries are abundant with new work. 
For theatre, live music and comedy nights, The Con Club offers several shows each week and there are many more pubs offering live-music at the weekend. For workshops, music events, local theatre productions and more, visit: https://www.visitlewes.co.uk/whats-on

Holiday Homes to Rent in Lewes

Whether you’re a seasoned Lewes Bonfire Night visitor; a history buff or simply looking for a romantic rural getaway for two, Lewes is full of places to enjoy, from history, to dining, to walks and shopping. Lewes a creative, quirky and hugely attractive Sussex Town with a wonderfully welcoming community that must not be missed on a visit to the county. Give Simple Getaway a call and find out which Lewes Holiday Home will suit you and your family.

Already ready to book your holiday rental? Book direct with Simple Getaway and save the unnecessary fees on Airbnb and VRBO, we offer the cheapest rate every time, guaranteed!

Sunset on Bosham Harbour

Approaching from the west, your first glimpse of Bosham will be of Holy Trinity Church spire, on the horizon above a stretch of corn fields and harbour marshes. This village comprises of Bosham and Old Bosham, both beautiful, but the real flare is by the waters edge in the heart of Old Bosham. Here you’ll weave through a clutter of cottages towards the water lapping the stone walls where you’ll see dinghies and kayaks all year round. Take the sea road back into the vestiges of the village but beware, this road floods at high tide and many tourists have lost a parked car to the ‘Bosham Car Wash’. At a high spring tide swans and ducks will waddle right across the main road. It’s a wonderfully Bosham-esque quirk.

History of Bosham

Holy Trinity Church in the heart of Old Bosham dates back to the Saxon era. It’s said that legend of King Canut arose here where he set his throne upon the shore and commanded the incoming tide to halt and not wet his feet. Of course, the tide could not be stopped and King Canute, with sodden robes, turned to his men and saluted the almighty exclaiming, ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.’ King Canute’s young daughter was buried in the church in 1020 after slipping into the Millstream and drowning.

There is an old tale of pirates who sailed into Bosham and stole the Tenor bell from the church. During the escape back down the Bosham channel, the bell fell through the boat and sunk into ‘Bell Hole’. In light airs, it still rings beneath the water in time with the church bells.

Samaritans of Bosham gave aid to the people of Chichester barred behind the closed city gates after an outbreak during the plague of 1664. Food was brought to Chichester by locals from the village, and in return Bosham tradesmen were later allowed to sell their goods in Chichester without a hawker’s license.

What to do in Bosham?

Bosham is simply a place to walk and wonder. Its oldness and crooked beauty is really a sight to be marveled at. The rural road skirting the water’s edge bends one kilometer in a horseshoe and runs alongside big beautiful properties which only add to the beautiful route. Chichester Harbour is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is obviously fantastic to explore by boat (many locals/companies offer tours or boat hire). Bosham Channel is another busy little leg of it and perfect for a paddle around in a kayak or paddle board.

Sunset on Bosham Harbour

Where to eat in Bosham?

Anchor Bleu is the iconic pub in Old Bosham where you can eat al fresco beside the water on a calm evening, or be the first to sound the alarm on spotting another parked car going under the rising tide below the terrace. In main Bosham the Millstream Hotel is a lucrative award winning venue boasting two restaurants. The Crate Cafe is a small and intimate cafe in the heart of Bosham with a backdrop of the South Downs. This cafe will keep you topped up on tea and cakes and is dog friendly.

Looking for holiday accommodation in Bosham?

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Sunset on Bracklesham Bay, Sussex

Bracklesham is like a quiet outpost for old-time surfers and wild wind lovers. It’s a place of few distractions suited to these sea sentinels who watch for white horses on the waves and grab a board, or kite, or sail when they come. A laissez-faire slant on life’s responsibilities is fairly usual in the un-abrasive beachy community of Bracklesham. It’s not a place of material luxury. It’s a place for relaxation and simplicity.

Bracklsham bay


Bracklesham bay attracts fossil hunters year round. Fossil bearing clay offshore is eroded by turbulent winter seas and strong tides, freeing 47 million-year-old Eocene-era treasures which work their way to shore. Tens of thousands of ancient shark and ray teeth, gastropods and more are found in the sand at low tide each year. Using a trowel or stick and a keen eye you’ll find many. With a scuba kit, you’ll even find the remains of a WWII tank sunken during landing trials on the beach.

The Rolling Stones aren’t only a shore performance, the band also had a home here well known for reckless partying. Famously, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful were once whipped from their residence and marched to Chichester Crown Court to be charged. Many Celebrities are still located here and are well-known to locals.

Food & Drink

If you’re wondering where to eat in Bracklesham, you can’t come to Bracklesham and not dine in ‘Billy’s on the Beach’. The iconic cafe/restaurant is great for foodies, dog walkers and sun seekers alike. It’s on the beach, vibrantly popular and delightful.

Further up the road, you can stop in the quaint thatched-roof ‘Bracklesham Bay Tearooms’ for traditional English Tea and Cake. The newly opened ‘GOAT Coffee’ is also by the beach and offers warm Quiches, flaky Pastries and mighty fine hot Coffee for cold hands in winter.

What to do in Bracklesham?

In summer, visit West Wittering sands (AONB) 5 minutes down the road. This mile-long sand spit on the edge of Chichester Harbour is a gift from the tides. The sheltered bay behind the dunes often has up to 50 small motor boats and yachts anchored in clear shallow water here in fine weather. You will feel abroad. This place brims with summer spirit.

Sandy beach in West Wittering

The Roman city of Chichester 15 minutes away is well respected for its history, marked centrally by the beautiful Chichester Cathedral and gardens. You’ll be very pleased with yourself if you drive the scenic route from Bracklesham and visit Birdham pool, Chichester Marina or other quaint waterside villages on the way.

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Emsworth, a borough of Hampshire, sits on the edge of Chichester Harbour (AONB). It’s a village the locals are proud to live in, everybody has a dog and, unique to the south, you’ll get a hello and a smile from most people. Community-feel welcomes you here across most doorsteps. The pubs are always busy and the surrounding woods, brooks and paddocks are much loved and open for strolls and dog walks. The bottom of South Street runs right into the harbour and is amock with all the birds in the book. The mill pond hard, which damns the River Ems, works perfectly as a feeding platform for them now that Emsworth’s historic shipbuilding days are over.


Emsworth came to be in the 13th century when King John divided it from Warblington and handed it to William Aguillon for the yearly rent of two gilt spurs. Shipbuilding on West Brook was common until it was dammed to create the mill pond and tidal mills were built on either side of the town – the Lord’s Mill on Queen St (1570) and later the Quay Mill and Slipper Mill on South St and in the East respectively.

In about 1760 the quay at Swear Lane was built by Thomas Hendy and Emsworth became important in the coastal trade of goods including flour, corn and coal, and exported sand and gravel dug from the harbour by ship throughout the country.

Fishing was always an important part of life in Emsworth and over time oyster dredging became popular until it greatly supported Emsworth’s wealth. Emsworth was once one of England’s finest oyster trading ports.

Fishing boats and the harbour in Emsworth

Where to eat & drink?

Emsworth was a bit of a pub hub back in the day. 14 pubs stood on corners across the village and Emsworth was notorious among the weekend flock of drinkers and socialites from a mix of demographics and military. A few have closed, but 8 good ones still stand. Loosen up on the golden mile loop with a pint in each, or stop for dinner. The 3 neighbours on South Street are ‘Bluebell’, ‘JJ’s’ and ‘The Coal Exchange’ each with an entirely different ambience. Classy pub grub is enjoyable in the Blue Bell, JJ’s flamboyant everything will blow your mind, and The ‘Coalie’ is a free-spirited joint.

A few steps further toward the water on South Street you can stop for fine Michelin dining at either ‘36 On The Quay’, or ‘Fat Olives’. Book ahead to guarantee an exquisite meal.

If you’re weighing up where to eat in Emsworth, there are a couple of curry houses, but outstanding and unique is Darbar’s. This flash curry house is unconventional by British standards of Indian cuisine and you’ll notice an emphasis on specific flavour and finesse.

A local favourite and long-standing family-run restaurant, however, is the famous Italian, Nicolino’s. Little has changed on the menu over the years and it hasn’t needed to. The meals are hearty, large and rich like mama’s cooking for growing boys and girls. The service has character – no frills, (no need), they just have that Italian thing. You’ll leave here full and happy.

Curry, rice, ginger and lime

What to do in Emsworth?

The local market has run on Saturdays in the central square since Henry III permitted it in the summer of 1239. It’s quaint, and if you’re around it’s worth a visit. Typical to markets; cheeses and meats, hot food stalls and fresh veg from the rich soils of lowland farms around Chichester Harbour are all trading here. Emsworth has quite an arty influence with many art and textile shops and regular art trails showcasing the work of these talented locals whose creativity is blessed by the beauty of nature here.

The mill pond walk is a must and on it you can parade a quarter mile along the ten-foot wide hard with water on either side of you, feeling fully drawn into the harbour amongst the small fishing and sailing vessels. Swans, ducks, gulls and geese will be with you on the water.

From the mill pond, the coastal path goes about 2 miles all the way to Langston alongside woodland and fields. It’s a good hours trek and two iconic pubs await for lunch at the other end. The path floods at highwater springs but if so, you can find your way across the fields anyway.

Overall, Emsworth is a place of tradition and character and a keen visitor will find everything they need to leave feeling refreshed.

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