Tuesday 30 June 2020

Keeping it local.

Another weekend walk with our local friends P & C who have been showing us some more of the delights on our doorstep.

As is usual for this part of the world it involved lots of very ancient timbered farm buildings and barns which I never tire of, but do understand that not everybody wants to see the same thing over and over. This one sneaked under the radar because rather unusually the roof is made up of a mixture of tiles and Horsham stone. Perhaps a cost based exercise [the stone is very expensive] when it needed running repairs.

A 'V' shaped stile was the description given on the walk instructions, although I've seen them called pinch stiles when I've encountered them in other parts of the country. Of note simply because you don't get them in Sussex normally. We're definitely a traditional stile style or kissing gate kind of county here.

I think this lot must be llamas as they were bigger than the herd we met a couple of weeks back. There are always lots of sheep around here, but I am seeing more and more of these alternative herds, so they must be growing in popularity, but am not really sure why.

This little building stands next to one of the old farmhouses. We wondered if it was a converted chapel...what do you reckon?

Every walk has a little surprise....a plastic cow and plastic pigs in the farmyard. We were viewing at a distance and thought the goats were plastic too initially...until they moved!

It was with utter joy that we made it to the local parish church in the hamlet of Itchingfield. For the first time in months it was open and with nobody about I sneaked in to take a few photos. It's an 11th century church which has seen much change during its lifetime. This rather splendid chap peers out at you from one of the panels on the font.

Whilst I was rather intrigued by this tiny, but perfectly formed door I found up near the altar...it covers the 12th century aumbry, but I was charmed by its teeny door knob and keyhole.

 The 15th century brick and timbered priest's house is a rare survivor. There has been talk that it may have served as a pest house at one time and it certainly saw service as almshouses later on. However, it started out as a place for the priest to stay when he travelled up from Sele Priory to collect tithes. In this day and age it's used to host bric-a-brac sales!

The most noteworthy feature of St Nicolas's though is this magnificent 14th century timber belfry. The entire thing is held together with wooden pegs and there's not a nail in sight. It still has the original medieval steps running up inside it, although they are no longer used.

Back in the 1860s some workmen were working on the structure when they discovered a human skull neatly tucked away out of sight on one of the rafters. The story is that it belonged to Sir Henry Maclean who was executed for treason following the Jacobite Rising in 1715. The vicar at the time was a personal friend. Their rather macabre find must have come as a bit of a shock I would imagine!


Monday 29 June 2020

A Grave Tale

Michael Turner [1796-1885] was born in the Sussex village of Warnham. The son of a farmer, he chose shoemaking as his profession, but that was never his main passion and it was mainly a means of topping up his income earnt as the clerk and sexton of the parish church. His gravestone records his endeavours

"His duty done, beneath this stone,
Old Michael lies at rest.
His rustic rig, his song, his jig
Were ever of the best.

With nodding head the choir he led,
That none should start too soon.
The second, too, he sang full true,
His viol played the tune.

And when at last his age had passed
One hundred- less eleven
With faithful cling to fiddle string
He sang himself to heaven."

The dedication might be a tad on the contrived/sentimental side for today's taste, but it does give a sense of the man and his life. Let's just say he was what can only be described as a "local character". He was by all accounts a very dapper fellow who always wore the traditional white Sussex smock with an old fashioned high beaver hat, long boots and a red neckerchief to perform his duties on a Sunday in church. He sat up in the rood loft playing his violin, whilst singing and keeping an eye out for any shenanigans in the choir. Bad behaviour was not tolerated in any shape or form and he was known for frogmarching any misbehaving urchin from the church regardless of what point they were at during the service. He wasn't above literally banging the choirboys heads together if they had upset him either!

Beyond his church role Turner was an accomplished bellringer and was often in demand for his singing/fiddleplaying at parties and village fairs. Sadly ill health stopped him from being able to work and he spent his final years in poverty. His friends and local parishioners paid for his headstone some years after his death and his beloved "viol" can still be viewed inside the church. However, I did find that he left an appropriate musical legacy....I have heard a few local folk musicians talk about "Michael Turner's Waltz" [actually composed by Mozart] and have only just clocked this is one and the same man. Mr GBT already knew this, but it's obviously a conversation we've never had! A local clogging side dance to it and it's performed by one of the handbell teams near to here. It's here if you fancy a listen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35pu-YHb8EI


Friday 26 June 2020

The Love Cats

A rather different version of The Cure's famous track by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. I loved the original and am quite taken with this version too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqbmZhd1ZFo


Wednesday 24 June 2020

The library steps.

I've been hankering after having a set of miniature library steps for some time now, but Mr GBT is fortunate to have many orders that keep him busy and out of mischief. However, his favourite part of his job is the designing and making of new pieces, so he makes the time once a year to do something different. My role is to choose what I would like [I know tough call, but hey somebody's got to do it] and then research it. Once I've found photos he's then able to ascertain whether he will actually be able to make it in twelfth scale.

There are already some lovely examples of the ladder style steps and the metamorphic chair/steps made by other makers....being an awkward mare this was what caught my eye instead. I could only find the single full size version....looking at it we reckon that the steps were so narrow you'd have probably been at risk of falling off them and hurting yourself. Perhaps that's why this variation didn't catch on!

Mr GBT has used his time well during lockdown!


Tuesday 23 June 2020

Not coming up roses!

As promised....a few non rose related shots from around the ever beautiful Nymans. Ironically due to work commitments during the week and us being all over the place with Mythago at this time of year we never normally visit over the summer. We have obviously been missing a treat!

This highly unusual seat was made in 2004 by Alex Oakley and has the initials of  A R for Anne Rosse nee Messel on the back who lived at Nymans. It was put there in her memory by her sons and family and to mark the 50th anniversary of the estate being given to the NT. It overlooks the stone dovecot.


Monday 22 June 2020

I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden.

So the lyrics to Lynn Anderson's song go, but I beg to differ...you did and what's more you delivered. I would expect nothing less of the rose garden at Nymans in Flaming June.

With pre-booked tickets in our sticky little paws we were going to pay a visit to our most local NT gem come hell or high water. It threw it down throughout the morning last Thursday, but as it had been quite a game getting the slots [a very popular choice it would seem] we had decided that we were going whatever the weather threw at us. Thankfully by mid afternoon the skies had cleared and the sun had put in a welcome appearance. Many of the flowers were still covered in raindrops.

The scent was heavenly and we could catch it on the air before we'd even turned into this beautiful little oasis. Everywhere was calm with people just drinking it all in...normally it's far busier and everyone skedaddles about, but not at the moment. Many, like us, were just taking their time and enjoying the simple pleasures that once we took for granted, but now denied for a time we are really appreciating again.


PS For anyone not a fan of roses [I know they don't have a universal appeal] I'll share photos of the other floral treasures tomorrow.

Friday 19 June 2020

Essex Humour

Even though I am a girl who hails from Chelmsford, I can honestly say I have never watched "The Only Way is Essex" or TOWIE as it's more normally known as these days. Despite this I have become familiar with certain characters from the show who have become famous and joined the celebrity treadmill of dubious stardom when they have popped up on other light entertainment programmes. One chap is Joey Essex who regularly uses the word "reem" which Google tells me means brilliant.  When I saw this van parked up near us the other evening I cackled wildly with glee.....

I love how this scaffolding firm have taken the TOWIE brand and reinterpreted it for their own cheeky means. Sadly I have neither need of any scaffolders nor any type of reem erection at this point in my life😈


Thursday 18 June 2020

On the doorstep

As my world has become smaller, I have begun to notice the smaller details within my familiar surroundings. I would imagine [what I'm saying is actually I don't know!] that many of these tiled doorsteps into the shops have some age to them. Often they are the only physical remaining evidence of the businesses that once traded from the premises. Some of them might have seen better days, but they remain eyecatching little pieces of marketing which are easy to miss and I'd personally love to see them brought back.

This one is from a nearby village shop in Warnham. Frederick Freeman took it over in 1875.

Whereas this one denotes the "mission statement" [how I loathe that cheap phrase] of the Horsham business who were based in the building at the time.Thomas Richardson & Co [est 1843] were wholesale producesr of jams, biscuits and sweets. They made all sorts of naughty goodies like Horsham Rock and Sussex Bricks. 

Yet another unexpected potential source of local history to explore!


Wednesday 17 June 2020

A Wealden Wander

We're still sticking to our locality, but it's always good to have a friend with you who's lived here all her life [she can trace her family back 400 years in the same village!] so you learn all sorts of scraps.

One thing you can almost guarantee when you head out into the Wealden countryside round here is a slew of gorgeous timber framed farmhouses. When you consider that they were thrown up and not really expected to last how the original inhabitents would be scratching their heads in amazement that so many are still standing.

 Not everything was in such good nick sadly . The door may have been padlocked...

but, as you can see, security's not a big issue these days with this particular building.

It started out life as a school in 1874 for the tiny village of Rowhook [designed by a local architect called Gordon M Hills] and later on was converted into a mission room. It remained in use until 1948 when it then was passed back and forth between various tenants. Sadly it wasn't maintained and had fallen into disrepair by the 1960s. There was talk of the parish council who own it selling it on to be converted into a private house at some point, but it transpired that under the 1841 Schools Act the site could only be used if the money was put towards building a school elsewhere. The law has changed since then, but for this little forlorn pile of bricks its fate had already been sealed and there it sits quietly being reclaimed by Mother Nature.

However, elsewhere we encountered historical remnants from an earlier era being put to good use.

These looked for all the world like bollards except each one was rather oddly numbered. They started out life being used for rail track alignment and are called monuments. Seeing as dear old Dr Beeching did away with this line back in 1966 it's good to see someone has given them a new lease of life.


Tuesday 16 June 2020

A"llama"ing Lockdown Hairdos

Round here the reopening of hairdressers and barbers is eagerly awaited and many have already booked a virtual appointment in anticipation. I think I shall just sit on my hands for the initial rush to be over before I go back.  On a recent Zoom call we were nattering about the ways we'd found to get round the various issues our lockdown hairdos have presented us with during lockdown. Various solutions have been tried from home dyes to clippers with varying degrees of success. With this in mind it did amuse me when I came across this field of alpacas [I think....but llamas made a better blog title!] sporting their very own version of the lockdown tresses....all I can say is don't worry it'll grow back!!


Monday 15 June 2020

Not a CATastrophe

With lots of help from Mr GBT we have turned my folkart design for a naive cat into a reality...this will go up on the wall in our bedroom and sit happily alongside other similar things. It's not cost us a single groat...all the wood was leftover from other projects.


Friday 12 June 2020

To Nature

To Nature

It may indeed be fantasy when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety.
So let it be; and if the wide world rings
In mock of this belief, it brings
Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.
So I will build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee,
Thee only God! and thou shalt not despise
Even me, the priest of this poor sacrifice.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I took the photo of the former pond now filled with Forget-Me-Nots when I was out walking with E earlier in the week. 


Thursday 11 June 2020

The Blue Idol

I'm unashamedly looking back a few months for this post when we visited one of the hidden gems we have in the district. Another one that never made it to the blog at the time!

This stunning 16th century house [c1580] started out life as a farmhouse, but later on down the line became a Quaker Meeting House founded by William Penn [1644-1718]. He lived nearby and had rejected the religious intolerance of the Church of England after he had heard Thomas Loe preaching. From then on he threw his support behind the Society of Friends which saw him sent to the Tower of London for his beliefs in 1667. By 1674 he had married a fellow Quaker. The movement was deemed to be illegal, but Penn had made friends in high places and in 1681 he was granted land in America by Charles II...the stipulation was that it should be called Pennsylvania in honour of Penn's father.....and the rest as they say is history!

Upon Penn's return to England the Meeting House was established in 1691. How it got its name nobody really knows for sure, but I'm quite partial to the argument that it's derived from a small blue ceramic figure found in the garden. It's still used every Sunday for worship [under normal circumstances], but the garden is open and free to visit during daylight hours. One Wednesday afternoon a month it's available for those who seek some peace and solitude. It truly is an oasis of calm in a hectic world. 


What Aloicious Did Next

 After laying low for a few months Horsham's spoof artist Aloicious Shaftspole has been up to his tricks again. A 'what three words&...