Posts Tagged ‘sussex’

A visit to Seaford Museum

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Eclectic is an overused word but when describing the collection at the Seaford Museum is is scarcely adequate. Eccentric, haphazard, curious and nostalgic, even bizarre, all apply too.

You can find Seaford Museum in a disused Martello Tower on the beachfront there. Inside you will discover stone age tools found locally, curiosities such as a mummified frogs, old computers, household appliances of yesteryear and an array (of sometimes rather comical) of historic tableaux.

It only costs a few quid to get in and is well worth some of your time. One of the hidden gems of Sussex.

British Piers: Eastbourne Pier, East Sussex (Before the Fire)

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Sussex churches: an exploration

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Upwaltham ChurchLast year, I developed two interests that this year I must blog about. Both are of a historical and architectural bent and both are related to my pleasure in “Sunday outings” and my hope to travel more widely within the British isles.

One is an interest in British Piers, which saw me join the National Piers Society and travel in Sussex and East Anglia last year for some pier spotting. And I’ll write all about that another time. My other burgeoning interest is in Sussex churches.

Often at weekends my mum and I (henceforth known as Parker because she does the driving) like to venture out into the stunning Sussex countryside to visit somewhere “of interest”. Over the years we’ve exhausted pretty much all the National Trust has to offer locally and because we need some sort of purpose aside from lunch, an amble and a general nosey off the beaten track, we turned to churches. They have the merit of being somewhere to aim for, free to get in to and most usually fascinating.

This may seem like an unusual passion for a secularist and atheist but for me the churches of Sussex offer a particular lens on the history of our county. The most obvious point is that they represent our oldest buildings. They also highlight Sussex’s rather unusual relationship with Christianity.

Aside from the Isle of Wight, Sussex was the last place in the British Isles to be converted, at some point in the late 7th century. Despite our relative proximity to Canterbury, the gospel was better known in remote islands off Scotland and Ireland before the missionaries of St Augustine penetrated the dense woodland of the Weald. It also speaks to Sussex’s relative unimportance, poverty into the 19th century too and that it remains the most wooded county in Britain.

As a result, here in Sussex we have relatively few Saxon churches and very few great religious houses, and most of our Church heritage is post-Conquest. So, for me, the Saxon churches we have are rather special and fascinating because they represent some of the few physical links with the South Saxon people who give us the name Sussex.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate newer churches, I do. With the able guidance of Niklaus Pevsner I am gradually building a little knowledge of architectural terminology. I can now tell my piscina from my architrave. But I must confess that the ancient delights me most.

I’ve already compiled a gallery of the various Sussex churches I’ve been too in 2012 and will be developing that 2013. But I have dragged my heels in offering written commentaries and reflections so far. And I’ll start adding those over the next few weeks.

The Beauty of Sussex is Underrated

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Clayton ChurchWe don’t have the wilds of Scotland, the wilderness of the moors in Devon or Yorkshire, Northern Ireland’s moody mountains or deserted beaches like Wales. No brooding hills as you see near Malvern or Manchester. We lack the drama of the Lakes, the chocolate box rolls of the Cotswolds and Dorset. We don’t have a mighty river or anything close to a peak, no waterfalls to speak of, or caves or mysterious standing stones. Not for us granite or limestone. We have chalk and clay and, of course, the sea.

Sussex is an enchanting landscape. It has an underrated, understated gentle beauty of its own. I was reminded of Sussex’s hold on the imagination as I took the train from Brighton to Eastbourne last Friday. The chalk downland of Kingston Ridge, Mount Caburn and Firle Beacon looked more arresting than usual, still frosted at noon after a cold night. The Ouse and Cuckmere rivers meandered silently as they have done for thousands of years to the sea from their origins up country.

In Eastbourne, I glimpsed the start of the Seven Sisters. The sea defines Sussex. We have amazing cliffs, sandy and pebbly beaches, small but fascinating estuaries and the constant interest of the channel lapping at our shores.

It was so reaffirming to see some of our wonderful Sussex countryside that I was helpless to think anything else: in 2009 I want to see more.