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A Wander Around Historic Steyning in West Sussex

a street in steyning with tudor houses

Steyning is a picturesque little town in the South Downs National Park, around a 30-minute drive from Brighton. It has a rich heritage dating back to the Saxon times, which is evident in its pretty little streets, historic churches, and high street.

Steyning’s history is both long and fascinating, stretching back over a thousand years. The town’s origins can be traced to the 8th century when it was established by Saint Cuthman, a Saxon nobleman turned hermit.

Legend has it that Cuthman arrived in the area with his elderly mother, and after his wheelbarrow broke, he interpreted it as a sign from God to settle there. He subsequently built a wooden church, around which the community of Steyning grew.

Steyning flourished as a significant religious and commercial centre in the following centuries. The construction of St. Andrew’s Church in the 11th century, under the patronage of William de Braose, marked an important milestone in the town’s development. The church, with its distinctive Norman architecture, remains a focal point of Steyning to this day.

Things to Do in Steyning

a red post box with purple flowers on a wall and a tudor house in the background

Although a small town, there is plenty do to in Steyning and the surrounding beautiful countryside. Whether you’re visiting for the day, in the area, or staying nearby for a long weekend, here are a few things to do in Steyning.

1. Visit St Andrew’s Church

st andrews church in steyning

No visit to Steyning is complete without a tour of St. Andrew’s Church, one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in England. The church’s imposing stone structure and intricate carvings transport visitors back to the medieval era.

Inside you will find the chancel arch which is adorned with exquisite carvings of biblical scenes and mythical creatures. The Norman font, which dates back to the 12th century, sits on a Gothic-style base.

inside st andrews church in steyning

When I visited St Andrew’s on a Monday morning, an organist was playing happy tunes, with several people cleaning, pottering about and arranging floral displays. It is obviously still a Church very much in use and loved by the community.

2. Walk Along the High Street and Browse the Shops

the clock tower in steyning high street

Wandering through the town’s narrow streets, you will find yourself on Steyning High Street. This is a delightful street with numerous independent shops, cafes, and stores selling everything from antiques to vintage clothing, locally produced crafts and gourmet treats.

The Steyning Bookshop

the steyning bookshop

Don’t miss this family-run bookshop! This independent bookstore has been serving the community for over 30 years and offers a carefully curated selection of books, cards and stationery.

A frequent visitor is Julia Donaldson, who actually lives nearby (my daughter has singing lessons in Steyning and we have often walked past her house, with Julia sitting at her desk in the window, surrounded by books! I’m always a little star-struck), so don’t forget to get a signed copy of The Gruffalo.

Truffles Bakery

A firm favourite of ours, we have one in our town. My kids love their gingerbread men and I always have a cheese and onion pasty. I don’t think I’ve had a better pasty anywhere else (and I’m Cornish, so I’ve had a lot of pasties!)

Steyning Antiques

If it’s antiques you’re after, or you just love a good nose around a vintage store, Steyning Antiques has furniture, lighting, ceramics and more

Vintage & Home

vintage and home shop on steyning high street

Possibly my favourite store in Steyning, Vintage & Home specialises in vintage and retro homeware. It also sells paint, bespoke furniture and kitchens, so it is full of inspiration.

The Little Sweet Shop

the little sweet shop on steyning high street

I love a traditional sweet shop, and funnily enough, so do my kids. It pretty much does what it says on the tin, it sells sweets!

The Green Room

Another beautiful shop, full of country-inspired decor and clothes.

3. Cobblestone Walk

Cobblestone walk in Steyning

Whilst on the High Street, you can’t miss the Cobblestone Walk. This quaint little shopping arcade was established in the 15th century and is family-run.

From the street, it looks like an ordinary store, but walk through the “door” and it takes you down a little alleyway with stores on either side, then leads out onto a courtyard with the Cobblestone Tea House in the middle. Behind the tea house are little sheds, all selling local produce, handcrafted jewellery, artwork and beauty salons.

the sheds in cobblestone walk

This really is a must-see. Cobblestone Walk is beautifully decorated with bunting, floral displays and a friendly vibe where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and soak in the small-town charm of Steyning.

4. Steyning Museum

Steyning museum

To delve deeper into Steyning’s past, a visit to the Steyning Museum is highly recommended. Located on Church Street, this charming museum offers a comprehensive overview of the town’s history, from its Saxon beginnings to the present day.

The museum’s exhibits include archaeological finds, historical documents, and fascinating artefacts that paint a vivid picture of life in Steyning through the ages. Additionally, the museum showcases the town’s involvement in the medieval wool trade, which brought significant wealth and prosperity to the area.

5. Steyning Downland Scheme

steyning downland scheme centre

Steyning’s location within the South Downs National Park makes it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding countryside. One popular route is the Steyning Downland Scheme, a community-led conservation project that encompasses over 200 acres of chalk grassland and woodland.

The scheme offers a network of walking trails that provide stunning views of the South Downs and the River Adur valley. As you explore the area, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that inhabits the downland, including rare butterflies and bird species.

6. Steyning Horseshoe Loop Walk

a pathway in the south downs

This is a 5km circular trail which you can start on the High Street, walk up Newham Lane and it leads you up the hill with views of the South Downs.

It can get a bit steep and muddy and is a moderate climb, but you can reward yourself with a cream tea when you get back to the town.

7. Explore the Back Streets

a yellow thatched cottage

As always, one of my favourite things to do on a day out is wander the back streets of villages and towns, and this is where you see the real beauty of Steyning.

There are plenty of open spaces, beautiful architecture, gardens, old Tudor houses and thatched cottages and you really get a sense of how lovely the Steyning Community is.

8. Steyning Festival

For a taste of Steyning’s vibrant cultural scene, plan your visit to coincide with the Steyning Festival, a biennial event that showcases the town’s artistic talent and community spirit.

The festival features a diverse program of events, including live music, theatre performances, art exhibitions, and literary talks. It also offers a range of workshops and activities for all ages, making it a perfect family-friendly event.

The festival’s centrepiece is the traditional Children’s Parade, a colourful procession that winds its way through the town, featuring local bands, performers, and community groups. The parade culminates in a lively fair, where visitors can enjoy food stalls, craft markets, and entertainment.

9. Steyning Food & Drink Festival

steyning high street with a red telephone box

Although the dates haven’t been announced yet (as of May 2024), the Steyning Food & Drink Festival is normally held annually in September. This month-long celebration of local produce and culinary talent brings together the best of the region’s food and drink offerings.

From farmers’ markets and food tastings to cooking demonstrations and wine tastings, the festival provides a delicious opportunity to sample the flavours of West Sussex.

10. Where to Eat in Steyning

Tudor houses on a high street

The cafe culture in Steyning is worth visiting alone, especially if you’ve been on a long South Down Walk! The town is home to several centuries-old inns that have welcomed travellers for generations, and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from on the high street.

Victoria’s Sponge

Victoria's sponge in steyning

A delightful little cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, hot and cold drinks and afternoon tea. I love the nature-inspired decor and their biscoff and gluten-free lemon and elderflower polenta cake.

The Chequer Inn

The Chequer Inn in Steyning

This dates back to the 15th century, with a timber-framed facade and a cosy interior. This historic inn offers a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for enjoying a traditional British meal or a pint of local ale. It also has cheap accommodation.

Cobblestone Tea House

cobblestone tea house in steyning

As mentioned before, the Cobblestone Tea House sits in the heart of the Cobblestone Walk. I love the fact it has a really low ceiling, with beams taken from a nearby port in the 11th century.

You have to try their scones, which are baked fresh every day.

The White Horse Smokehouse & Grill

a high street in steyning
The view from the White Horse Smokehouse down to Steyning

If you are looking for somewhere to go for dinner, you can’t beat the White Horse Smokehouse & Grill. It has a warm and friendly atmosphere with an impressive menu.

11. Where to Stay in Steyning

For those looking to extend their visit, Steyning offers a range of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. It is a small town, so it doesn’t have a huge amount to choose from. However, there are a few hotels, B&Bs and private accommodation nearby.

Springwells House

Springwells House in Steyning

Springwells is quite a prominent building in Steyning, you can’t miss it when you drive into town. What makes Springwells House stand out is that it has an outdoor swimming pool, games room and garden.

The Tollgate Bed & Breakfast

the old tollgate hotel in Bramber

Situated in the village of Bramber, just outside Steyning (and within walking distance), the Tollgate Bed & Breakfast has spacious rooms and a bar.

Pepperscombe Cottages & Glamping

Pepperscombe Cottages & Glamping provides chalets and bell tents, all with a patio with garden views, a fully equipped kitchenette and a private bathroom.

The Castle Inn Hotel

Castle inn in steyning

Also in Bramber and a mile from Steyning High Street, The Castle Inn Hotel has a games room for playing pool, comfy beds, and a restaurant that serves a full English breakfast every morning.

With its warm community spirit and array of cultural events, this picturesque town is a true gem in the heart of West Sussex. So pack your walking shoes and a stretchy pair of pants and enjoy all that Steyning has to offer.

a day out in steyning pinterest pin

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