Extraordinary artifacts

29 April 2021

Delve deep into the history of gardening, sit on Britain's longest bench and marvel at a spectacular seaside palace.

This itinerary is to help you make the most out of your time exploring the history and heritage along the Thameslink railway network. Be sure to check out our other heroic heritage itineraries for other parts of the lines including romans to code-breakers, awe-inspiring architecture and pioneering heritage. If you're short on time, or just looking for day trip ideas, simply pick your favourites from our suggestions below and build your own itinerary.

From an afternoon or a day trip to a short break or longer holiday, however long you spend there's plenty to keep you busy!

London Blackfriars railway station is an ideal place to start your journey. From here catch the train to Hassocks, just over an hour's journey. Along the route you'll pass East Croydon, extend your visit and spend some time exploring this vibrant south London neighbourhood, featured in our pioneering history itinerary.

From Hassocks railway station you can walk to the South Downs Heritage Centre that adjoins the South Downs Garden Centre. The heritage centre is home to The Museum of Gardening, the first museum in Sussex to be dedicated to the history of gardening.

Museum of Gardening exhibition
Photo: Museum of Gardening

Here you can explore artifacts dating back over the last few centuries and learn more about the inventions that have transformed the way we care for our gardens today. Also inside the heritage centre you'll find The Sussex Food Hall, The CUBE Art Gallery and Made and Making – the home of sewing and craft workshops.

Back on the train from Hassocks railway station, you're now heading to the seaside resort of Brighton. It's not just all about the beach and seaside entertainment in Brighton, there's a wealth of history and heritage, just waiting to be discovered.

A toy model of an old train at a station on display Brighton Toy Museum
Photo: Brighton Toy Museum

Situated in early Victorian railway arches underneath Brighton railway station is the Toy and Model Museum, home to one of the finest public collections of toys and models in the world with over 10,000 exhibits on display. A truly extraordinary attraction that is sure to transport you back to your childhood.

Walk 15-minutes onto the seafront to visit Brighton Fishing Quarter and Museum. Experience life in the fishing industry with interesting displays featuring boats and fishing artifacts. Look out for exciting events held here throughout the year.

From here it's a great opportunity to have a stroll along the beach and walk along part of the Palace Pier for views of the English Channel.

Head back inland to explore The Royal Pavilion, a spectacular seaside palace of the Prince Regent (George IV).

Royal Pavilion Brighton lit up at night. Photo: Roman Grac from Pixabay
Photo: Roman Grac from Pixabay

One of the most dazzling and exotic buildings in Britain mixing Regency grandeur with Indian architecture. Visit the banqueting room and see the kitchens to discover what Regency-style luxury dining looked like.

Less than a 20-minute walk from Brighton railway station, you'll reach Booth Natural History Museum home to over half a million specimens and natural history literature dating back over three centuries. The museum displays the Victorian taxidermy collection of Edward Booth with hundreds of British birds displayed in recreated natural settings. The museum also features butterflies to beetles, a killer whale skeleton and dinosaur bone and geology and fossils.

Explore further afield

From Brighton railway station take a scenic train ride along the coast to the iconic Seven Sisters chalk cliffs at Seaford with the beautiful landscape of the South Downs National Park in-between.

Head back to Brighton railway station and catch a train to the charming seaside town of Littlehampton, with a journey time of just under an hour.

Littlehampton Lighthouse in the sunshine. Photo: visitlittlehampton.co.uk
Photo: VisitLittleHampton.co.uk

Littlehampton sits at the mouth of the River Arun, that you'll see from the train as you approach the station.

The river, once home to a busy shipbuilding industry, now offers a slower pace of life as a popular leisure marina.

From the railway station head to Littlehampton Museum for a fascinating insight into the community's social history delivered through a variety of exciting galleries and interactive displays showcasing the history of the town.

If you're visiting on a weekend, be sure to save time to take a ride on the Littlehampton Miniature Railway running from Mewsbrook Park to Norfolk Gardens.

Head to the seafront and discover Britain's longest bench. The structure, measuring 324 metres, is made from recycled hardwood and over 200 slats are engraved with messages and memories from locals and visitors.

The bench runs continuously from the seafront kiosks to the East Beach café, dipping, twisting and turning along the promenade. There are two shelters where the bench curves and bends into unusual shaped seats that make a great photo opportunity!


We'd love to hear about your scenic rail adventures over on our social media channels. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and share your photos!

To make your days out as enjoyable as possible, we encourage you to plan your trip in advance and check for disruptions before you start your journey. Visit our travel safe page to see what you can do to make planning easy.

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