Back in 1907 the now controversial sculptor Eric Gill [you may remember his Prospero and Ariel statue on the outside of the BBC Broadcasting house was defaced by a man with a hammer a couple of years ago] moved to the small East Sussex of Ditchling. In 1921 he set up the Guild of St Joseph and Dominic which was a Roman Catholic community of arts and craftsmen which drew many others to join him. The museum focuses on this period of the village's development, but Gill is less prominent than he once was reflecting the changing attitude towards him. As a man he was deeply flawed, but the magnificence of his work speaks for itself. I went with my friend E and it was a first visit for both of us. To be frank I can't for the life of me see what drew people here in the first place😆
The village has been here since at least 765AD and was in the hands of King Alfred the Great by the 9th century. By 1086 it was noted for having 196 households which would have been considered large by the standards of the day. It's never been on the rail line and the locals have campaigned hard to stop encroaching development which has kept it small and largely unchanged. It just has a lot more traffic thundering through it these days! Just to warn you that the photos are very buildings heavy this time.
This one is called Crossways and has on it a plaque to the local Dr Linton-Bogle who died in 1964. The side gate has the medical symbol of the rod of Asclepius. He was a Greek God venerated for his healing and his cult believed snakes to be divine creatures.
This one dates from 1573.
Ancient bits of timber upcycled into porches.
The Green Welly cafe even has a huge welly on its roof and an appropriately themed door knocker.👢
Close up of a very old lock on an equally old door from the 15th century house "Tudor Close". It looks like it could well be an original feature.
I vote this fellow for being quite the ugliest dragon I have ever had the pleasure to meet. The Saxons often called them wyrms and this one fits the bill rather nicely and whilst we're talking 🔥 breathing monsters the old Fire Station and a Guardian Fire and Marine Insurance Company Mark. Rather surprisingly they were an American company not British as you might have expected.
So to wind it all please allow me to share with you photos of quite the ugliest building I have ever come across....awful isn't it😀 Nowadays it's called "Wings Place.", but once it was called "Ditchling Garden Manor". It was originally owned by Lewes Priory, but then dear old Henry VIII got his fat grasping paws on it after the dissolution of the monasteries. He passed it over to Anne of Cleves as part of the divorce settlement. It's unlikely that she ever visited, but when combined with the house in Lewes he also gave her I don't think she fared too badly from their brief marriage did she. It is truly spectacular and is even more so when viewed in the flesh.