Posted 24 July 2012 by Andrew Gardner
No, it's nothing to do with The Jam or the Jubilee - it's even older and nonetheless intriguing. Petworth House, near Midhurst Sussex, opened its network of tunnels on 21-22 July for a rare opportunity to get right below stairs at this iconic stately home. They may have been originally designed to enable servants to go about their business without being seen, but they found a highly worthwhile use during the Second World War as air-raid shelters for children - some local, some evacuees from the Chelsea Day Nursery that was set up in the servants' quarters, others from areas where their homes had been bombed. We have plenty of lovely cottages in this area and it's easily accessible along the A272 if you're staying in one of our Petersfield and Winchester cottages.
One thing you're sure to find in a dark tunnel is bats. If you want to see and hear them a little less up-close-and-personal, go along to Buchan Country Park between Crawley and Horsham, which is a real haven for the crepuscular creatures. Sussex Wildlife Trust's wonderful evening bat walks are worth doing, they take along a sonar detector so you pick up their amazing sounds as they flit around the lake.
For a more sedate and very beautiful day out, you'll find several NGS gardens open throughout Sussex on various days in July and August, from the historic Priest House in West Hoathly to The Grange at Fittleworth and even Nymans at Handcross. Check opening dates and times before you go, and enjoy our lovely Sussex flora and fauna. Sussex has something for everyone - see our information page for more ideas.