It was Freud who theorised that our immediate environment is the driving force behind our state of being at any given moment, impacting everything we think and do. To control one’s environment is to control one’s mind.
We are learning this on a science podcast as we drive jerkily through the bustling streets of rush-hour Aldgate, as London fights its way through slanting rain. A taxi yells at a cyclist, two rushing commuters collide, spilling a third’s coffee, whilst our dogs have started a backseat play-fight. Not one single soul in this modern landscape is in control of their environment right now. If Freud was right, that’s a lot of minds out of control.
It’s against this backdrop that we arrive, ninety minutes later, at the gates of Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa, in the rural south coast parish of Climping, near Chichester.
We follow the impressive driveway through the thirty-acre sculpted gardens, tennis courts, and medieval cottages, until we pull up outside the grandiose manor house. We’re then escorted to the centuries old stone tower which houses just our room for the weekend.
The imposing wooden door creeks open, leading to a winding stone staircase, opening up into a palatial ruby red bedroom, complete with vintage four poster bed. Basically, it’s exactly like what our American friends think Harry and Meghan’s house is like.
Before what turns out to be an excellent dinner in the award-winning restaurant we take a stroll and feel instantly at peace. The seclusion is so welcoming in its embrace that the usually playful dogs are as laidback as Snoop, even when we emerge onto the adjoining pebble beach. There’s something so perspective-finding to feel the sea breeze on a wide and empty beach stretching for miles, and the bliss is complete.
The remainder of our stay is spent discovering new activities amongst the historic buildings dotted throughout the manicured estate, including a stunning spa, 13th Century chapel, and underground passageway containing a myriad of mysteries.
As we leave I’m reminded of the psychology podcast. It occurs to me that this is a perfectly put together place, in complete control of its environment, and our minds have rarely been clearer. For this correspondent at least, that is exactly what a weekend retreat should deliver.