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Retrace your route for about four miles and follow the B2141 then the B2146 as they corkscrew towards historic 17th-century Uppark House and Garden, perched on a stunning hilltop site, with sea views, hidden tunnels for servants and an inspiring story of how it emerged from a devastating fire in 1989.
Wearied after tramping the gardens but revived by a National Trust cream tea, rejoin the undulating B2146 (careful, it’s a blind bend), before taking a left by the Ship Inn at South Harting and following your nose to Petersfield to admire the 22-acre Heath Pond and, if accompanied by children, letting them out for a romp on the swings.
Chichester urges visitors to use its “awardwinning”Avenue de Chartres car park but omits to say that its ticket machines spurn credit and debit cards, accepting only coins or locally purchased vouchers. Precisely how visitors should park when they go in search of vouchers they don’t say, so bless the good Samaritan who offered her last few coins.
To walk the streets of this artfully arranged “village” of some 50 historic buildings, each dismantled brick-by-brick before being reconstructed, is to stroll back in time.
Enjoy a snack lunch from the café on the “village green” (don’t eat too much; there’s a culinary treat in store this evening) and then discover all you ever wanted to know about stonemasonry, joinery or how to thatch a roof.
Savour the tranquillity of the cathedral’s cloisters, marvel at the towering stained-glass windows and gasp at the tension of Graham Sutherland’s Noli me tangere. Now you must brave Chichester’s bewildering gyratory system and – sticking doggedly to signs for the A286 – head for the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, seven miles north.
And then reflect on it all over a cup of tea in the Cloisters Café garden, before picking a souvenir at the shop. This sheltered South Downs valley museum is where old barns, grand medieval houses, schoolrooms, churches, lavatories and tollhouses ‘retire’ when threatened by the bulldozer elsewhere in Sussex and Kent.
We were half way through our first Great Drive: a two-day journey began in Chichester and took in an abbey and three cathedrals.
Drawing heavily on the history, beauty and some of the best driving roads in the region, our route then climbed through the South Downs, looped through ancient Winchester and snaked its way to Mottisfont Abbey, before flying west across the backbone of Wiltshire, finally homing in on Salisbury’s famous spire. It was disappointing then, for a city that makes much of its ease of access by road that, at the very start of our trip, it was almost impossible to park.
Following the A272 to Winchester, admire the church of St John the Evangelist, with its lychgate, at Langrish and (if there’s time) squeeze through the tight gateway into splendid Hinton Ampner to admire gardens and house.
My compact Citroën DS3 Ultra Prestige was a perfect fit – perfect, too, with its sporty handling, comfortable seating, plush cabin, snappy gearbox and powerful engine, for this tour.
But don’t dally; you should leave time enough to rejoin the A272 and (dragging yourself past the inviting beer garden at the Hinton Arms) take a right onto the B3046 through Cheriton (careful, ducks on the road) to inspect pretty New Alresford, home to excellent cafés, interior design shops and an otherworldly riverside walking trail.
It can mean one of only two things when, after a decent day’s drive, you’re greeted not by a chocolate on your pillow but by a pair of foam earplugs.
Either you have noisy neighbours and thin walls – or the perfect host who’s thought of everything.