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INSIDE TRACK: GOODWOOD

Goodwood’s Festival of Speed takes place between June 25th and 28th, but away from the roar of the engines you’ll find this glamorous estate has lots to offer.

 

There are few country estates more diverse than Goodwood. Sprawled over 12,000 acres of the Sussex Downs in the south of England, the current owner Lord March has built on its rich heritage to create a world-renowned destination. Its motorsport events are important fixtures in the social calendar – the annual Festival of Speed is one of the world’s biggest motoring events outside Formula 1.

McLaren has long tapped into this energy. Our Group CEO and Team Principal Ron Dennis drove a 1970 McLaren M14 at the very first Festival in 1993; the hillclimb record is still held by the McLaren MP4-13 driven by Nick Heidfeld in 1999. The Festival has also hosted a number of our road car debuts, including the global dynamic unveiling of the McLaren P1™ in 2013 as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations. This year’s theme, ‘Flat-Out and Fearless: Racing On The Edge’ will see McLaren Formula 1 cars and high-performance road cars taking to the Hill once more.

But away from the busy motorsport events, Goodwood has much more to explore, with aviation, horse racing, golf and one of the UK’s largest organic farms on offer. We visit the Estate in the build-up to this year’s Festival to sample some of its finer country pursuits. 


 

 

The House

At the centre of the Estate is Goodwood House, the seat of the Dukes of Richmond for more than three centuries, which is open to visitors around 60 days a year. The Grade I listed property is among the finest country houses in England, and is flanked by towering cork oak trees and cedars of Lebanon planted by the 2nd Duke in the 1740s.

Over the years, each generation of the family has added to the house’s extraordinary art collection, and today visitors can view paintings by the likes of van Dyck, Canaletto and Stubbs. Other gems include Gobelins tapestries and a collection of Sèvres porcelain. Afterwards, you can enjoy a traditional English afternoon cream tea in the Regency Ballroom – by far the house’s most spectacular setting.

Unlike many aristocratic families who have moved out of their ancestral homes, Lord March and his family still live in a self-contained wing of the house. As well as welcoming visitors to the public section of the house, they also open it up to guests during Goodwood events. ‘It’s this charming blend of public and private that continues to draw guests from the world over,’ says House Curator, James Peill. ‘People are fascinated by English country houses, and anyone who visits Goodwood House finds it a truly awe-inspiring place.’

 

Goodwood House is a unique treasure trove of spectacular art and antiques, expertly curated and cared for by James Peill


 

 

The Kennels

A two-minute drive from the house brings you to The Kennels. As its name suggests, this grand building once housed the Duke of Richmond’s hunting dogs, and today it serves as the Estate’s central clubhouse for its sporting and social memberships, and has been home to Goodwood’s golf club since 1914.

Although motorsport and horse racing remain the top pursuits at Goodwood, golf is fast catching up. The first golf course at Goodwood was laid out in 1901 and today the Estate has two popular 18-hole courses. The Park beside Goodwood House is open to golfers of all abilities, while Golf World magazine ranks The Downs among the finest Downlands courses in the country with its fast-running fairways and challenging greens. On a clear day, you can gaze down to Chichester Cathedral and the sea from the sixth tee.

Golf at Goodwood prides itself on its flexible credit membership, allowing members to pay for what they play. It’s been hugely successful at getting people into the game – no doubt boosted by the presence of Justin Rose, Goodwood’s official golf ambassador for the 2014/2015 season. ‘Our club is modern and inclusive,’ explains Golf General Manager, Stuart Gillett. ‘There are very few rules and no dress code. We’ve created a relaxed place where our members, junior and adult, can feel at home.’

 

Thanks to Stuart Gillett, Golf at Goodwood is known for being friendly and inclusive. It boasts two spectacular golf courses


 

The Cuisine

Fresh produce is another vital aspect at Goodwood. The Estate serves a seasonal menu of high-quality, locally sourced food, and wherever possible the ingredients come from its award-winning 2,800 acre Home Farm, which won Sussex Food Producer of the Year Award last year. It’s a fitting accolade for one of the largest organic farms in the UK.

Home Farm produces its own cheese and milk, and a team of in-house butchers provide the Estate’s organic-fed meat. This ‘farm-to-fork’ ethos makes dining on the Estate – in the Richmond Arms, Goodwood Bar & Grill or The Kennels – a culinary treat. On our visit, we enjoyed an Estate-reared rack of lamb alongside local English asparagus, roasted beetroot and lamb’s heart. Dessert was another wholly Sussex affair: an exquisite clotted cream parfait served with local pine berries, strawberries and strawberry ribbons.

‘Having our own farm gives us a great opportunity to work with spectacular products,’ explains Executive Head Chef, Mark Forman. ‘As a chef, it’s a privilege to use such fresh organic ingredients because we’re passionate about sustainable quality.’

 

Goodwood has a ‘farm-to-fork’ philosophy – sourcing much of its seasonal menu from the estate’s 2,800 acre Home Farm


 

 

The Racecourse

Every year, the Estate puts on a variety of thrilling horse-racing events. Best-known is Glorious Goodwood – five days of racing held at the end of July. From this summer, it will be known as the Qatar Goodwood Festival, as part of a new 10-year partnership that has poured more than £2 million into the prize money for eight key races.

It’s an exciting step for a tradition that was established here more than two centuries ago. In 1802, the 3rd Duke of Richmond introduced flat racing for the Sussex militia at the top of the Estate – where the iconic Sussex grandstand sits today commanding picturesque views over the South Downs. Have a flutter at the Qatar Goodwood Festival from 28 July -1 August and experience the most glamorous event in the racing calendar for yourself.

True to his philosophy of moving with the times, Lord March has also launched pop-up DJ nights at the racing events in June, known as Three Friday Nights. After the final horse race is over, dance the night away on the spectacular open-air racecourse at one of these after-dark parties. This year, 2manydjs, Gorgon City and actor Idris Elba will provide the soundtrack. 

 

Have a flutter at the inaugural Qatar Goodwood Festival – better known as Glorious Goodwood – from July 28 to August 1


 

 

The Aerodrome

Come September, Goodwood gears up for the Revival, its historic motor racing and aviation event. If the breathtaking aerial displays leave you wanting more, the Goodwood Aero Club offers a variety of airborne adventures (prior experience isn’t necessary for a trial lesson). It has a diverse aircraft collection, and this August it will unveil a new clubhouse designed by Daniel Goldberg, one of the architects behind London’s Shard.

At Goodwood Flying School, you can learn to fly in a state-of-the-art Cessna 172 or Piper Super Cub over nearby destinations including the South Coast, Arundel Castle and Cowes. ‘As long as you do the minimum 45 hours to gain your pilot’s licence, we can tailor lessons as you wish,’ says Aviation General Manager, Rob Wildeboer. ‘On average, our pupils pass after 53 hours – that’s 12 hours less than the national average.’

The aerodrome also offers an unforgettable passenger ride in a vintage 1943 Harvard IIB, a roaring warbird once used to train pilots before they flew a Spitfire. You can take control of the 550 horsepower aircraft and, if you’re up for it, the barrel rolls and the G-force of the loop-the-loop and ‘half Cuban’ (a half loop followed by a roll) are an exhilarating but heady combination. An iron, if not empty, stomach is a must – but it’s a great way to see Goodwood in all its glory.

 

Flying at Goodwood is a breathtaking way to admire the Estate in all its glory, says Aviation General Manager, Rob Wildeboer


 

 

The Motor Circuit

At ground level, the Estate is gearing up for this year’s Festival of Speed. Motor racing has been a vital strand in Goodwood’s DNA since Lord March’s grandfather, Freddie March, hosted the Estate’s first motor sport event in 1936 – an informal hillclimb through his Parkland Estate that would inspire the Festival of Speed nearly 60 years later. Under Freddie’s watch the perimeter road of this former WWII Spitfire base became the 2.4-mile Goodwood Motor Circuit in 1948 – and the home of British motor racing until it closed in 1966.

In 1998, boosted by the success of his Festival of Speed, Lord March revived his grandfather’s vision, restoring the track to its former glory for the first Goodwood Revival. Since then, the Revival has been joined by the Members’ Meeting, which takes place in March. The rest of the year, visitors can experience the circuit for themselves at Goodwood Track Days or through private hire. McLaren also uses the circuit for customer 'Pure McLaren' track days.

If you own a McLaren, Goodwood is special,’ says Motor Circuit General Manager, Alan Brewer. ‘After all, this was Bruce McLaren’s “home track” in the 1960s and ’70s.’ McLaren often tested its sports cars and single-seaters on this circuit. Sadly, Bruce was killed at Goodwood in 1970 in a testing accident.

As a tribute to Bruce McLaren and the special ties between him and Goodwood, the Revival in September will host a special track parade dedicated to his racing career – just one more reason to visit this fabulous country estate, set beneath the rolling chalk hills of England’s South Coast.

 

Goodwood events such as the Festival of Speed and Revival have restored its iconic motor circuit to its former glory


 

The Festival of Speed takes place between June 25th and 28th, and the McLaren 570S will make its dynamic public debut on the famous Hill. This year’s Goodwood Revival is held between September 11th and 13th. For more information about these events and the rest of the Goodwood Estate, including opening times for Goodwood House, visit www.goodwood.com

 

 

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