Two miles from Chichester, in ten secluded acres away from the road, is an unexpected treat: a superbly proportioned 17th-century house, ex-National Trust, fronted by a large pond of waterlilies. Gail, once in antiques, charming and discreet, has recently renovated an outbuilding for guests (long, low, red-brick) on the other side of the walled garden. Enter… to discover a leather chesterfield to the left, a sofabed to the right, and a dining area with a large white table. Then, down an elegant wide corridor: the kitchen, neat and well-equipped; the bedrooms, each a delicious nest; and the bathroom, big and tasteful in white and grey. Dotted with antiques and interesting ‘objets’, it’s a very civilised friends’ retreat. Of the many outdoor spots in which to relax (including a double hammock next to the tennis court) is a piece of garden just for you, surrounded by tall trees and trimmed hedges, with a fish pond in the middle and a patio to the side. A little shop and a posh pub are a trot away, and you can be in Chichester (cathedral, restaurants, theatre) in a trice.