Active Retreat - Mountain Biking & Yoga in the South Downs

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A Very Special Garden Tour

16-18 April 2023

Olga Polizzi’s private garden Friston Place

Two beautiful historic gardens will be opened exclusively for guests with a two nights’ stay at The Star in Alfriston, the Polizzi’s 15th century inn in East Sussex.

Guests arrive on Sunday afternoon with time to look around the charming medieval village of Alfriston, and explore its interesting shops, walk along the Cuckmere River or visit The Tye with its pretty church, known as the Cathedral of the South Downs.

At pm on Sunday, Julian and Isabel Bannerman will give an illustrated talk, entitled ‘Shadows of the past – Gardening Now’, discussing the history that informs their design from Renaissance to Ravilious. The Bannermans are well known garden designers, whose designs while rooted in history and the classical tradition, are fresh, eclectic and surprising. They have been called ‘mavericks in the grand manner, touched by genius’. Our local award winning book shop Much Ado will have books by the Bannerman’s for sale and signature. After a glass of Champagne there will be dinner in The Star’s Dining Room.

At 9am on Monday a coach will take guests to Arundel Castle. Both the castle and its garden are closed on Mondays, so guests are lucky to have a private tour with the brilliant horticulturalist and Head Gardener, Martin Duncan. The Tulip Festival will be at its best. It is considered one of the most stunning tulip displays in Europe with more than 100,000 tulips in bloom.

A light lunch will be followed by a visit to the private gardens of Petworth House, the home of Lord and Lady Egremont. Lady Egremont will give a guided tour of the exquisite and intimate sanctuary of garden rooms she has created. At the end of the day the guests will return to The Star for a well-earned dinner.

On Tuesday morning, after breakfast, guests are invited to Friston Place, to see Olga Polizzi’s private garden set in the grounds of a 16th century house. This garden has Italianate bones with classic English planting. Guests will be offered a glass of Champagne on the terrace or in the Great Hall depending on the weather.

From £610, per person, based on two people sharing a Classic Juliet room including breakfast, dinner each evening (£60 allowance per person, per night, excluding drinks), refreshments, one lunch and guided tours of all three gardens.

The Star
01323 870495


Petworth is known for its Capability Brown parkland, open to the public, but in the private gardens, Lady Egremont has created an exquisite and intimate sanctuary within a series of garden rooms.


Sunday 16 April
15.00 Arrive at The Star/explore Alfriston
19.00-18.00 Talk from Julian and Isabel Bannerman: ‘Shadows of the past – Gardening Now’
20.00 Dinner in The Restaurant at The Star

Monday 17 April
07.30-08.45 Breakfast
09.00 Depart The Star (by coach)
10.00 Arrive at Arundel Castle for a private tour of the gardens with Head Gardener, Martin Duncan
12.00 Depart Arundel Castle
12.30 Lunch
14.00 Arrive at Petworth House for a private tour of the gardens with owner, Lady Egremont
16.00 Depart
17.00 Arrive at The Star
19.30 Dinner in The Restaurant at The Star

Tuesday 18 April
07.30-09.30 Breakfast at The Star
10.00 Visit Olga Polizzi’s garden, for a tour with Olga (guests to make their own way to Friston)
11.30 Depart


The Star
01323 870495


Arundel Castle Gardens