This Father’s Day, it’s time to treat dad to a day out he will really love, be that a family walk in the countryside, jazz on the lawn and some local beers, or re-living his childhood by creating a den with the kids – one of our ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ challenges.
Whether you’re after captivating gardens, history hunting through our houses, geocaching through the woods or simply getting closer to nature, the National Trust has everything you need to help dad and the rest of the family have a great day out.
Here is a flavour of some of the Father’s Day fun West Sussex has to offer:
This beautiful house and garden, set above the South Downs, is the perfect dad ‘getaway’ from it all. Relax on the lawn and soak up the panoramic views as you listen to the vintage sounds of the Harry Strutters jazz trio (12 – 3pm). Bring a picnic and treat dad to a pint from the beer tent; there’s beer tasting in the café too, courtesy of local brewers, Ballard’s.
If you’re looking for something a little more elegant to sip, Uppark has sourced a very special Hampshire gin called Silverback, produced in small batches, and teamed with a delicious cardamom tonic water.
If the weather’s good, try out one of the games on the lawn by Visitor Reception such as giant chess. Or delve into Uppark’s toy chest on the south meadow to find bat and ball games.
In the house, you’ll discover an exhibition by Japanese artist Takumasa Ono, featuring a beautiful selection of watercolours, screen-prints and Sumi-e – a traditional form of Japanese brushwork – which captures the very best of National Trust properties.
‘Henro’ exhibition runs until 20 June, 11am – 4pm.
Don’t forget to visit the original underground servants’ tunnels, now home to roosting bats. Find out how the contrasting worlds of ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ life at Uppark came to be reflected in HG Wells’s classic Gothic horror novel, The Time Machine.
Nymans has something a little different to offer dads this June – an exhibition in the house that explores the life of one of Britain’s most iconic and beautiful actresses, Vivien Leigh. Nymans was the family home of her favourite costume and set designer, Oliver Messel, and this exhibition also explores their film and theatre collaborations together. Organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the exhibition includes over 100 pieces from the actress’s personal archive – recently acquired by the V&A – from costumes and sketches to photographs and scripts.
Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives: from 1 June to 4 September
Outside, this amazing garden and wider estate is a great place to explore and relax in. There are self-guided trails into the ancient woods, down medieval tracks to mysterious Mesolithic sandstones and cascades built by World War One soldiers. Test dads’ wildlife tracking skills (no.34 on our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ checklist), or encourage them to show off their den building techniques (No.4 on the list).
In the midst of the gardens you’ll find an idyllic wildflower meadow (the Pinetum) – the perfect place to flick out a picnic rug and have a snooze, or play some games. Talking of games, there’s croquet to enjoy on the lawns, against the dramatic backdrop of Nymans’ Gothic ruins. Top up energy levels with some freshly prepared food in the café, and a selection of delicious local beers.
Petworth House and Park, Petworth GU28 0AE, Tel: 01798 342207
This famous 18th-century landscape is celebrating the 300th anniversary of its creator – Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. In the magnificent 17th-century mansion you’ll find a new exhibition that reveals Brown’s transformation of Petworth Park from a formal landscape to a pastoral delight.
Petworth Park Revealed: The Naked Landscape runs until 6 November, 11am – 4pm.
Then get outside to explore 700 acres of beautiful landscaped parkland – great for strolls, picnics or just soaking up the view. Follow your nose, or follow one of Petworth’s two downloadable trails, and don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the fallow deer herd – they’ve been here since Henry VIII visited 500 years ago. You’ll find lots of opportunities for ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ challenges too, from kite flying and tree climbing to rolling down a big hill – careful dads!
New this year: an exciting new piece of technology – Petworth’s Park Explorer – will take you on a journey through the park’s lost landscapes. Simply select the Park Explorer wi-fi on your smartphone or tablet. You don’t need the internet to do this and it’s free, safe and secure. As you walk through this ancient landscape Park Explorer will reveal on your screen lost gardens and forgotten buildings, unearthing the secrets hidden beneath your feet.
For further information on events at National Trust properties, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast. For further information on ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/50-things-to-do.