This old Roman village is steeped in charm, character and history and sits on the edge of the South Downs with some of the best views in the country as well as the county.

Bursting with chocolate box cottages and with glorious panoramic views across the South Downs, it’s no wonder the small village of Pulborough is officially one of the most desirables places to live in the country.

The reasons for its popularity are endless: nestled in verdant, rolling countryside looking over the Arun Valley, it is just a short drive to some of the most amazing coastline in Britain stretching from Chichester Harbour in the west to the dunes of Camber Sands in the East.

It is also one of the richest areas for nature in Britain and home to some incredible wildlife and birds including the Peregrine falcon, the nightingale and the lapwing.

Only 5,000 people live in the roman village near Horsham and Petworth, but one of them is Dame Maggie Smith, the Oscar-winning actress and star of Downtown Abbey. She bought a house there in 1981 with her late husband, Beverley Cross and is often spotted shopping in Waitrose in nearby Storrington.

Whether it’s to spot The Lady in the Van star or just because of its friendly community, rich and varied history, dating back to Saxon times, breath-taking scenery or welcoming community, Pulborough is one of the top ten in-demand villages in the UK, according to Rightmove, who put together the list.

‘There are some lovely quintessentially English cottages and manor houses in the village of Pulborough,’ a Rightmove spokesperson says. ‘It has a commute to London of less than an hour, the South Downs National Park on the doorstep and Brighton within a half-hour drive to the south.’

Great British Life: Kinsbrook wineKinsbrook wine


Sitting on a south facing escarpment on the edge of the South Downs National Park, Pulborough is in the heart of Sussex wine country. The county has a warm climate and the gentle slopes, protected by the Downs, are made of the same green sand soil as the famous Champagne region.

The Sussex ‘terroir’, as it is known in France, is suitable for growing grape varieties found in sparkling wine, such as Pinot Noir, Pinor Meunier and Chardonnay. And it is of such a high-quality that Sussex wine now has its own protected status, just like Champagne and Prosecco.

Visit myriad surrounding vineyards here for a tour or a taste, including the award-winning producer of sparkling wine Nyetimber (, Wiston Estate Winery (, Stopham Vineyard, Kinsbrook Vineyard and Nutbourne Vineyard who first planted their grapes in 1980 and now have 18-acres of vines in production.

Pop into Hennings Wine ( on Lower Street to stock up on other local and international wines. Established in 1960 as a deli with a strong grape offering, it soon found its true calling as a wine emporium.

There are plenty of quintessential country pubs in the village and surrounding area. Head to the 16th century coaching inn, The White Lion, in picturesque Thakeham, which serves delicious ‘pub grub’ and has a beer garden for soaking up the sun in the summer.


From a simple walk, drinking in the views of the South Downs and beyond, to visiting the local Bignor Roman Villa with its mosaic floor, there is plenty to do in Pulborough whatever the weather. The picturesque scenery makes it the perfect location and summer is full-on wedding season with couples flocking to Bury Manor Barn ( to tie the knot in sumptuous surroundings.

Tucked down a long drive, and looking like it belongs in a Downton Abbey-esque movie, Bignor Park, is an 1100-acre private estate that hosts weddings, parties and events. Complete with stunning gardens, stables and period features galore, the only problem with this elegant house is that you’ll never want to leave!

Kids big and small will love a visit to the South Downs Light Railway, a miniature steam train at the Pulborough Garden Centre. Villagers make quite a splash at the annual duck race hosted by the Pulborough Duck Race Society but it’s the 12-hour lawn mower race that has literally put Pulborough on the map. ‘Wackily’ British, each year the village hosts the event, which sees more than 50 teams competing continuously for 12 hours.

The Harvest Fair, in September, includes a retro style fair ground, welly wanging and a scarecrow competition.


While you can browse for a special present at The Barnes with its quirky cornucopia of vintage finds, it’s no surprise that a village that is steeped in Saxon, Roman, medieval, Georgian and Victorian history has more than its fair share of antique shops.

Enjoy mooching around The Pulborough Exchange on Lower Street which sells everything from art to musical instruments and has a veritable library of Sussex Books. Wolfe Antiques, on Coolham Road, specialise in out of the ordinary pieces including vintage fairground collectables, old signage and amusement machines.

To snap up a vintage piece of treasure at the right price, and have a memorable outing, head to Tooveys auctioneers (, a family-run firm that was set up in 1995 as a regional centre of excellence for the valuation and sale of antiques, collectors’ items and fine art in the South East. Myriad pieces – from coins, militaria to the finest of wines – go under the hammer here.

Great British Life: Percy Bysshe Shelley, /n(1792-1822). English poet. Oil on canvas, 1819, by Amelia Curran.Percy Bysshe Shelley, /n(1792-1822). English poet. Oil on canvas, 1819, by Amelia Curran. (Image: Alamy)


As well as Dame Maggie Smith, Pulborough has been home to comedian Harry Enfield, who went to school here. Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the English Romantic poets, lived in the Grade II-listed Champions Farm here that was built by either his grandfather or father in the 17th century and recently went on the market for £3.6million.

Shelley, best known for his classic anthology work such as Ode to the West Wind, was no doubt inspired by the house’s location – in 111 acres of rolling fields with views across the Downs.

Composer Edward Elgar, who wrote the popular oratorio The Dream of Gerontius, based on a poem by John Henry Cardinal Newman, lived in nearby Fittleworth. He was made Master of the King’s Music in 1924, directing the court orchestra and composing music for the monarch, George V.

PIC CREDIT Percy Bysshe Shelley, /n(1792-1822). English poet. Oil on canvas, 1819, by Amelia Curran.


With a wealth of excellent schools in the area, Pulborough is the perfect place to raise a family. There is everything from nurseries and pre-schools to primary and secondary schools in and around the village along with independent schools.

Inspiring pupils to grow in confidence in its high challenge/low threat atmosphere, Dorset House school ( provides what it calls a ‘magical prep school experience.’ Aiming to promote independence and make sure pupils are happy, confident, but not arrogant young people, Dorset House children often win awards and scholarships to senior schools.

Windlesham House School is one of the country’s leading independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 4 to 13, set in a 65-acre estate on the South Downs. As the oldest prep school in the country – it was established in 1837 – Windlesham is proud of its heritage in ‘embracing the new.’ It was the the first prep school to go co-educational, in 1967, and it has a school uniform policy to help children feel relaxed in their ‘home away from home.’


Great British Life: Parham House. (c) Parham House LtdParham House. (c) Parham House Ltd (Image: Parham House Ltd)

Parham House

Named as one of the top 20 in author and journalist Simon Jenkins’ England’s Thousand Best Houses, this Elizabethan Parham House, set in a 16th century deep park, has it all: ancient art collections, antiques, and award-winning gardens. Reopening Easter weekend, stroll the Pleasure Grounds or four-acre Walled Garden, try to spot a fallow deer grazing or marvel at the Long Gallery, which is the third longest in England.

Great British Life: Pulborough BrooksPulborough Brooks


RSPB Pulborough Brooks

Go bird and wildlife spotting at RSPB Pulborough Brooks nature reserve. With views of the brooklands and South Downs, and set in the sheltered Arun Valley, the reserve has a stunning landscape of grasslands, pools, wildflower meadows and newly-restored heathland.

There are hides and viewing areas to catch a glimpse of some of the rarest plants and creatures including the threatened little whirlpool ramshorn snail. Bats, green tiger beetles and a variety of birds and wildfowl can be seen too, including the nightingale, teal, pintail and black-tailed godwits, whitethroat, snipe along with the rare brown hairstreak butterfly.

Great British Life: Pulborough is a chocolate box village. AlamyPulborough is a chocolate box village. Alamy


Fancy moving to the old Roman village that has houses and buildings dating from Saxon, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian times?

Pulborough is tiny and though it’s near Petworth, with its abundance of culture, it’s the former with the train station which makes it the smarter choice for commuters and growing families. But living in such a beautiful area comes at a price.

On average, properties in Pulborough sell for £795,481, and spend 15 weeks on the market, according to Detached houses currently fetch an average of £580,000, and flats £190,000. Asking prices have gone down by 1.9% in the past 6 months.

3 of the best PROPERTIES TO BUY

Andrews Cottage £649,500

In the heart of the village this charming cottage lies has bags of character, three bedrooms, and south facing garden towards the South Downs. There’s even a bespoke Garden Retreat home office /studio and an orangery.

4 Masons Way £725,000

This three-bedroom bungalow is part of a no-through close in a prestigious development in the village and has a south-facing garden. The spacious home is just a stone’s throw away from glorious walks into the Downs or the village which has a butcher, supermarket and a greengrocer’s.

Codmore House £975,000

This Grade II listed five-bedroom house has period features, a walled garden and a range of useful outbuildings including a granary and stable. Inside there’s a cellar and it comes with a double garage with a large loft area.

Comyn and James 01798 888111