Here in Sussex Christmas is magical. Whether it's bright and frosty or grey and misty with the South Downs wreathed in the soft low light of December, the landscape, sky and seascape are a watercolour of muted greens, pale blues and greys, with the defining curves of the Downs marking the transition between coast and weald.
While it has been many years since we had snow at Christmas, this is such a beautiful area that you can visit Sussex and enjoy the simple pleasures of large log fires and hot punch following brisk wintry walks, or carol sing-alongs in the village pub and a Christmas Eve nativity tableau in the old barn on the Green, complete with braying donkeys!
Even if you decide to stay at home (and you don't live in Sussex), you can still buy your Christmas turkey from one of our great farm shops or Sussex butchers, and stock up on fresh, locally grown veggies. Try some of our wonderful
much of it organic, especially our light sparkling wines which are so appropriate for festive celebrations. Simply choosing Christmas decorations and gifts is such a pleasure, as you can combine your Christmas shopping trip with a special treat at one of our coffee shops or pubs.
Listen to the traditional Sussex Carol:
East Sussex Christmas Pubs
Want to go out with a group of work colleagues and/or friends for a pre-Christmas lunch? Check the menus of some of our Sussex pubs; most offer great value for money ... your Sussex Christmas starts here.
The White Horse, Ditchling
The White Horse is one of our two local pubs; it has fairly recently undergone a total refurbishment and it is now very light and bright. The dedicated restaurant area is lovely and regularly hosts exhibitions by local artists. The food here is absolutely delicious and extremely well-priced. I really recommend it!
The Griffin, Fletching
Situated in the village of Fletching, near Uckfield in East Sussex, this delightful old pub, which also offers accommodation, is full of character and the food's great too! Fresh fish is delivered daily from Rye and some of the vegetables and salad leaves are locally sourced. It's not cheap, but there are some delicious bar meals for under £10. Check out their Christmas menu; I ate here last year with my book group ... it was delicious!
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The Sussex Ox, Alfriston
Delightfully located on the edge of the ancient East Sussex village of Alfriston, 'The Sussex Ox' is a family-run pub offering seasonal food and real ales. The interior has been very pleasantly updated and the menu includes a wide range of meals at reasonable prices, for example, there is a good choice of main courses for under £15, many under £10. With an interesting Xmas menu and the facilities to cater for parties from 2-40, it's worth considering the Sussex Ox for a group booking. To check out their Sussex Christmas menu
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The Bull, Ditchling
This is one of our two local pubs, (the other being the White Horse, just opposite the church on West Street). With a history going back centuries, into a less-than-salubrious past involved in the lucrative Sussex smuggling trade, 'The Bull', dating it is believed from 1563, is now a warm and welcoming village pub, serving delicious food, much of it locally sourced. A couple of years ago, a flattering
appeared in 'The Telegraph' newspaper; and as well as the Londoners who regularly trek down to eat and stay here, us locals also enjoy a drink and a meal in the Bull. Check out their range of menus, including a
special Sussex Christmas Day menu.
The Jolly Sportsman, East Chiltington
This is one of the most delightful pub/restaurants in this part of East Sussex - just north of the South Downs, between the M/A23 and Lewes. In good weather we cycle or walk from Ditchling for a drink in the lovely garden, complete with views towards the Downs. For special occasions, we book a table for a celebratory meal in the evening or at lunch-time. Follow the link to read
The Juggs, Kingston, near Lewes
This is another of our favourite pubs. It is extremely popular in the Summer, as it has a delightful garden and the food is good. Dating from the 15th Century, the interior is a classic old Sussex pub, with low beams and interesting nooks and crannies. At present, the owners do not seem to have a website, but you can phone on: 01273 472523 and you can check the
The Cricketers' Arms, Berwick
We ate here, finally, at the end of November and the food was delicious - hot and homely. Beautifully located fairly close to Charleston Farmhouse (originally home of Bloomsbury artists, Vanessa and Clive Bell), it's a traditional flint Sussex pub with pretty gardens within sight of the South Downs. At the time of writing, a three-course Christmas meal will cost £20(lunchtime or evening). Recommended.
The Snowdrop Inn, Lewes
The Snowdrop Inn is a great find ... a really delightful pub in Lewes, with a tragic story behind its name. The food is fabulous and the atmosphere cosy; I love it! It gets very busy so arrive early if you want a table. The Christmas menu looks fantastic, not cheap but I am sure it will be very good indeed. Head chef is Dominic McCartan, co-owner of the Snowdrop with his partner, Tony Leonard. Highly recommended if you like bohemian warmth and good food.
The Cock Inn, near Lewes
I've taken my elderly parents here several times; it is a pretty, traditional clapboard Sussex pub, which serves good home cooking at reasonable prices.
The Half Moon Pub, near Plumpton
Recently refurbished, the 'Half Moon' is a lovely old pub set at the foot of the South Downs, near the village of Plumpton. It's a great place to drop into if you're walking or cycling the South Downs Way, and it's conveniently located on the main Ditchling to Lewes road. Good home cooking, reasonably priced, and local Sussex beers are served. Live music Thursday evenings.
The Ship Inn, Rye
Built in 1592 as a warehouse to store smuggled contraband, the 'Ship Inn' now offers B&B accommodation, as well as good beer, inventive cocktails and a range of menu choices, all home-cooked with most of the produce locally sourced. Check out their
The Gardeners Arms, Ardingly
Situated on the road north, just beyond Ardingly but before Wakehurst Place, the Gardeners Arms is delightful. Had lunch here recently (December 2011); it was excellent. Very pleasant interior - warm and welcoming with friendly staff, good food and quick service. Will revisit and hope that their Christmas menu is as good as it sounds.
The Eight Bells, Jevington
This is one we're saving for the next Birthday treat! We stopped off in the pretty village of Jevington on our walk along the South Downs Way from Eastbourne. The Christmas menus look really appetising at £21.95 for three courses. Will add further comments once we have eaten here.