We first discovered The Millstream Hotel in Bosham 14 years ago when we took refuge in its garden for a delightful afternoon tea. Having just returned from a rather grueling 18 months on a small catamaran touring the Mediterranean in very Spartan style, we promised ourselves that we would return to luxuriate at the Millstream as soon as we had resettled our lives. It took us almost a decade and a half to get there, but the way the hotel cocooned around us made the wait well worthwhile. The Millstream is one of those rare properties that puts grace and romance into the cliché “a step back in time.”
Just three miles west of Chichester, each of the 35 bedrooms in this rambling country house is individually and distinctly decorated in traditional English style. Even if your only experience of 20th century British life was garnered through films or novels, the warmth of staff and the feel of the property make you feel as if you had spent your entire childhood with a bucket and spade by the sea in Bosham. Hardly surprising the Millstream VisitBritain’s 3 Star Gold Award Winner for exceptional service hospitality and comfort, as well as the AA Rosette for cuisine.
Art & About
A short walk down to Bosham Harbor is Bosham Walk Art & Craft Centre, a charming flag-stoned wren of 17 shops and artists’ studios under a wooden beam roof. Originally a fishing village, Bosham’s legendary charm has captivated writers like Dylan
Thomas, who lived there for three months during World War II, and Ernest Hemmingway also based there as a war correspondent. In the Craft Centre, you can buy direct from working sculptors John & Chris Letts, or from marine painter Ken Hammond. Stay long enough and you can cultivate your own creativity – or your child’s – by enrolling in an adult or children’s craft classes.
At the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, it’s hard to decide if the real wow is the architecture or the dazzling collection of 20th century British artists, considered by some critics as the finest outside the Tate Modern. Opened in the autumn of 2006, the architects faced an astounding challenge – to marry the original gallery – a Grade I listed Queen Anne townhouse in a conservation area to a contemporary new wing with all the modern bells and whistles like geothermal heating technology. So magnificent is the final product that the museum has been long-listed as one of 10 candidates for the Gulbenkian Prize, the largest single arts prize in the UK for the best new development of the previous calendar year.
Architecture and Dining
Architecture that seduces the soul is also a key feature of one of Chichester’s more unique dining venues – the Dining Room at Purchases. Set in a magnificent Georgian house in the city’s historic centre, The Dining Room at Purchase’s was once the home of England’s oldest wine merchant company, Arthur Purchase & Son, who traded in Chichester from 1780. The impressive white portico entrance looks much as it once did with Purchase’s name and trade cast in tall elegant lettering. Choose a garden view table to enjoy the spectacular wrought-iron Victorian pavilions and parasols, made especially for the property.
Although the wine merchants business is run separately, its influence is apparent in the restaurant’s and cocktail room’s extensive list of Champagnes available by the glass. If you are lucky enough to be traveling Monday through Thursday in the winter don’t miss the Dining Room’s irresistible two-course dinner for 10 pounds featuring innovative dishes like pan-fried guinea fowl with a wild cherry and red wine sauce or even fresh fish of the day. As Neil Rusbridger, the chef/patron trained with Michel Roux at the Waterside Inn in Bray, the Dining Room’s á la carte menu, though more pricey, is delicious. The biggest surprise is the generous portions. I couldn’t finish the superbly chargrilled diver-caught Scottish scallops with fritons of duck that I ordered as a main. Had I known the generosity of chef, I would have ordered it as a starter.
For something entirely new to Chichester, check out Rusbridger’s Tapas @ 31 North next door. Alas the tapas bar hand not yet opened when we were there, but loving Chichester as we do, we’re sure to be back for a sampling!
If You Go.
Details about The Millstream Hotel can be found at www.millstream-hotel.co.uk.
Learn about The Dining Room at Purchases at www.thediningroom.biz.
Information about other accommodations, restaurants and attractions are at www.visitchicester.org.
all photos are by Richard N. Every
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