Set against the beautiful backdrop of the rolling South Downs, Goodwood Estate has played an important part in the British social calendar for many years.
With the grade 1 listed Goodwood House at its centre, the sprawling 12,000 acre estate comprises a racecourse, motor circuit, two 18-hole golf courses, a health club and farm, not to mention the celebrated Goodwood Hotel. Today, the estate remains as timeless and relevant as ever, each year playing host to three of the most prestigious sporting events in the UK.
Whether you’re a visitor to Sussex or simply a resident itching to learn more, take a look at our ultimate guide to get in the know…
Goodwood House was built towards the end of the 16th century by the 9th Earl of Northumberland as a rather modest Jacobean dwelling. It changed hands numerous times throughout the years, with each owner remodelling or adding to it in some way. Many of these were avid sportspeople and so Goodwood grew to be recognised as the perfect spot from which to enjoy a number of outdoor pursuits.
In the 1940s, Frederick, 9th Duke of Richmond, Lennox, Gordon and Aubigny – a passionate motor mechanic and later a racing driver – transformed the ex-military airfield RAF Westhampnett into the Goodwood Motor Circuit, which went on to become one of the most popular racing circuits right up until it’s closure 18 years later. This wasn’t the end though, as Frederick’s grandson, The 10th Duke reopened the track exactly 50 years later, following an intense and meticulous restoration to bring it back to its former glory. The 2.4 mile track now plays host to two of the estate’s most high-status events: the Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival.
During his time at Goodwood, the 10th Duke also took steps to strengthen the estate, particularly focusing on the racecourse, which, for many years, was used to host the International Dressage Championships. Today, it is the site of the annual Qatar Goodwood Festival, one of the most prominent events in the British flat racing calendar and affectionately known as ‘Glorious Goodwood’.
With so much on offer at Goodwood, it would be impossible to see and do everything in one visit, so we’ve compiled handy guide to making the most of your time on the estate...
A fascinating day out
If you’re looking for a day trip, we’d recommend visiting Goodwood House, which is open most Sunday and Monday afternoons between March and October (Sun-Thurs during August). Here, you can enjoy a guided tour of the State Apartments and Old House, learning all about how the fascinating interiors were restored to their former glory, as well as the family’s art collection, one of the most significant in the country. Afterwards, why not stay for afternoon tea, served in the magnificent ballroom, which has hosted many of the estate’s most decadent parties in its time.
Goodwood House also hosts a number of one-off and recurring events throughout the year, including exhibitions, workshops and family race days. Click here for the full calendar of events.
A trip to remember
If you’re hoping to soak up the atmosphere for a little longer, then book in at Goodwood Hotel, a former 18th century coaching inn that will put you at the very heart of the estate’s action. With stylish accommodation ranging from lavish suites to individually decorated ‘character’ rooms, and two lively restaurants located on-site, you’ll be spoilt for choice. In particular, we’d recommend dining at Farmer, Butcher, Chef, Goodwood’s celebrated sustainable restaurant, showcasing the very best of the estate’s home-grown produce.
Out of doors, there’s lots to do during your stay, from taking a stroll through the beautiful grounds to golfing, tennis or getting your pulse racing with a driving or flying experiences. Alternatively, pay a visit to the Health Club and Waterbeach, catering to all your fitness and pampering needs.
Festival of Speed
Dubbed ‘the world's greatest celebration of motorsport and car culture’, the highly anticipated Festival of Speed welcomes a gathering of extraordinary vehicles to Goodwood and a packed programme of events. Undoubtedly the most iconic is The Hillclimb, which sees new and heritage cars battling it out for a place in the Sunday Shoot-out, but there’s a whole host of other events you won’t want to miss. Watch stunt stars performing gravity-defying tricks at Goodwood Action Sports or grip the edge of your seat as drivers test their courage at the Rally Stage and Off-Road Arena. Get a close-up view of the latest Formula 1 cars at the F1 Paddock or wander amongst some of the most beautiful aircraft ever built at the Aviation & Air Display.
12th - 15th July 2018 at Goodwood House, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0PX
A truly unique event, Goodwood Revival recreates the glamourous era between 1948 and 1966, widely considered the heyday of British motor racing. Famous for its enthusiastically-embraced dress code (expect tweeds, trilbies and vintage frocks as far as the eye can see) and the incredible selection of historic cars and motorcycles on display, it truly is a sight to behold. Included in its line-up of events is The Revival Car Show, which sees thousands of classic cars side by side, as well as the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation, bringing you face to face with some of the most innovative and rarely-seen aircraft in history. On the much-loved High Street, heritage brands capture the shopping experience of Goodwood’s golden age, while a visit to March Motor Works, which faithfully recreates car workshops of old, is a must-visit for any automobile enthusiast.
“A perfectly crafted, quintessentially English experience - always delivered with a twist.”
7th - 9th September 2018 at Goodwood Motor Circuit, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0PH
Qatar Goodwood Festival
One of the highlights of the British summer season, Qatar Goodwood Festival provides an unforgettable experience, whether you’re a first time visitor or seasoned racegoer. The festival spans five days, with each boasting its own unique atmosphere, from the tension of The Qatar Sussex Stakes in which prize money of £1 million is up for grabs, to the glamour of Ladies Day, where you’re encouraged to don your finest hat and enjoy the colourful charity race, the Magnolia Cup. Qatar Goodwood also has a number of excellent bars and restaurants, including the award-winning Sussex Roof Garden, an exclusive spot where you can sit with a cocktail and enjoy incredible views of the racecourse and Sussex Downs. For those wishing to start the party early, there’s the Goodwood ‘Three Friday Nights’, a combination of racing, music and dancing taking place across three Fridays in June – they don’t call it Glorious Goodwood for nothing!
31st July – 4th August at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0PS
For further information on any Goodwood events or facilities:
All images courtesy of Goodwood.