Yesterday marked the end of the 2021 National Tree Week. Despite it having been going since 1975 I'd never heard of it. It heralds the beginning of the annual tree planting season [ending in March] and is a celebration of all things arboreal. Over the days various events are organised nationally and the tree dressing at the Weald and Downland is one of them. Mythago is lucky enough to be asked to perform every year and it's one of our highlights.
With so much still in the balance it was fabulous to be able to dance out at something that felt nearly normal....just a few subtle tweaks to make it suitable for the latest rules. We were asked if we could incorporate something tree related into our performance...our newest story of the battling Oak and Holly Kings seemed to fit the bill. No photos as it runs pretty much the same every time, but I did take a quiet wander with my camera to settle my jangling nerves before we got going.
Even if you have never been you may well recognise some of the buildings. It's always being filmed for all sorts of projects and programmes. As we still had a couple of hours to go before we got started, I was able to spend a bit of time talking to some of the volunteers in the houses that were open.
I've always had a soft spot for Bayleaf Farmstead and it's one of the most well known. The earliest part dates from around 1405 and yesterday the chap explained to me how the smoke was able to escape from the fire when buildings still didn't have chimneys. By opening the shutters [pre glazing] the flow of the smoke could be controlled and right up near the top of the roof an oxygenless void is formed....any sparks that make it up here are immediately extinguished. For me these sort of exchanges bring history alive and further my understanding. There's a tour here on the link if you want to see the interior for yourself https://www.wealddown.co.uk/buildings/bayleaf-farmstead-chiddingstone/ As a child going there on school outings finding the privy was the absolute highlight!
It is a very atmospheric spot set at the base of the South Downs and always has something different to offer.