Sussex Day 2012: Part 6 – “He sendeth springs into the valleys”

23 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

Slightly further along the road, in fact practically on the edge of the village is the Shepherd and Dog pub, with splendid views of the Downs, this fitted much better my mental image of a country pub, however the real interest here for me was next door to the pub.

An important feature of these villages at the foot of the Downs are the many springs emanating from the hillside. More than that they probably owe their existence to the presence of these springs.

Previous residents of Fulking have utilised this water source for their benefit, with the installation of a hydraulic ram pump to distribute water throughout the village.

The story has it that in years gone by the streams of water have been dammed and the road flooded, the resulting pools used for sheep washing.

I don’t know whether there is still a pump inside the beautiful little pump house, there was certainly quite a flow of water, although we have had a lot of rain recently which could account for the volume of water.

Fulking pump house

I find it amazing that such care and thought went into the design and building of this pump house, which could have been so plain and simple. Even the door hinges are quite possibly the most ornate I have ever seen.

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Sussex Day 2012: Part 5 – Once a week each way

22 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

The next stop on the road running along the foot of the South Downs was Fulking, a small picturesque little village, consisting mainly of houses and farm buildings.

Particularly noticeable is the need for car ownership here, parked cars lined both sides of the road and a quick glance at the bus stop revealed one of the possible reasons for this.

The village receives only two buses a week, passing through on its way from Midhurst to Brighton and back again ever Monday. Assuming that they don’t run on bank holidays that means less than a hundred buses a year pass this way.

Once a week each way

One wonders if it gets much use. Anyone out walking this way and hoping to catch a bus home will likely have a long wait.

Makes me feel quite fortunate to have an hourly bus service but a few steps away from my front door.

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Sussex Day 2012: Part 4 – Where I needed to be

21 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

Leaving the church I continued on west, parallel to the Downs themselves. The road continues for several miles along the foot of the Downs, creating a string of small villages.

The rest of Poynings passed quickly by, mostly houses and one pub, The Royal Oak, which looks a little too trendy for my liking.

Soon the houses lining the road ended, or at least became more isolated and the views to the South Downs really opened up, this was where I wanted to be.

The road rises and falls gently on its journey west, occasional footpaths shoot off southwards to begin their assent of the hills, all the time the range of hills stretching out ahead as far as the eye could see and the haze would permit.

This really was where I needed to be. For many months I have gazed longingly from a distance, now they were almost within touching distance, not long now and I would be upon the hills at last.

For the last couple of years I have wondered about the feasibility of an alternative South Downs walk, not on the top of the hill, but from the foot of the hills.

At the foot of the South Downs – Where I needed to be

Roads like this stretch many miles along the foot of the South Downs, unfortunately they don’t provide a complete link, and many of them are probably too busy to contemplate walking along now.

They may not offer such far-reaching views as can be found on the top of the hills, but with views like this the route would be by no means boring.

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Sussex Day 2012: Part 3 – Church visiting

20 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

The footpath passed down the side of a school and emerged onto the road. Climbing slightly the road took me south to Poynings church, sitting at a junction of roads.

Poynings church has always seemed quite big to me, at least when seen from a distance, however up close it didn’t seem quite so big, although it has to be said that the square tower is quite impressive in size.

Having never been inside the church I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity and was surprised to find myself being congratulated by the vicar/rector for finding my way to the church.

She seemed a little surprised that I wasn’t there for the meeting or the florist come to set up for the wedding, but had just wandered in off the street, but was made welcome nevertheless. After a brief spell to admire the interior I took a stroll around the exterior.

The churchyard seemed quite small, smaller than I had expected. There were a few standing headstones, but try as I might I couldn’t remember anyone in my family tree who might be buried here, in fact I couldn’t remember any family connection with Poynings.

As unlikely as it seemed this little string of villages at the foot of the Downs seem to have been largely overlooked by my relatives, but then I suppose they were always more Wealdsmen than Downsmen.

Holy Trinity Church, Poynings, West Sussex

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Sussex Day 2012: Part 2 – Chasing butterflies

19 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

Across the road from the bus shelter the footpath leads across a wheat field, still green at the moment, but if the sun stays out long enough it will soon be turning golden-yellow.

The path follows a more or less straight path south towards the parish church at Poynings, but a little less than halfway it splits in two with one path continuing south and the other path heading west.

I followed the path west, this field was of grass, kept short by the sheep. A simple wooden bridge took me over a ditch, over a stile into a field of taller grass.

It was here that I spent a couple of minutes trying to capture an image of a little butterfly, a Common Blue I believe. It flitted here and there, almost getting trodden on once or twice and no sooner had it settled on a clover flower than it was off again.

Some of this was my fault and the approach of my camera, but some of this was also down to the wind which was buffeting everything in sight. Eventually I caught it.

Catching butterflies

Not far away to the south the huge bulk of South Downs dominated the skyline, but my attention had briefly been captured by this tiny little creature.

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Sussex Day 2012: Part 1 – One of my favourite bus stops

18 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

I knew I had to take the opportunity presented by Sussex Day to get out onto the South Downs, but when I set off I hadn’t really decided where to go.

I was on the bus heading to Brighton, which narrowed down the range of options, but still with another bus and/or train ride I could pretty much be anywhere in Sussex. Not only that but if I got the right bus I could even be on top of the Downs with minimal effort, but what would be the fun in that.

The South Downs didn’t look terribly inviting it has to be said. The weather was overcast, it looked and felt like there could be rain any minute, even though the forecast said it would stay dry. I could see the odd break in the cloud, but even as we got nearer the Downs remained hazy and indistinct, not the crisp clearness that I had longed for.

As the bus headed towards Brighton I formulated a plan, I would get off before Brighton near the village of Poynings, by the roundabout, and make my way along the foot of the hills and then when the time was right I could ascend the hills and continue along the ridge.

This would not only give me a different view of the hills, getting up close to the northern face of the hills that I normally only see from a distance, but would also give me the opportunity to have a quick look around some of the villages that lay at the foot of the hills.

As I stepped off the packed bus at Poynings, leaving the shoppers to continue their journey to Brighton, I stood and admired the Downs. The bus stop is well within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park, and practically on the foot of the hills. It is the closeness to the hills that makes this one of my favourite bus stops.

One of my favourite bus stops

In the background of picture above is Newtimber Hill. To the left, albeit some way off, is my old favourite Wolstonbury Hill. To the right is Devil’s Dyke and the range of hills stretching all the way out to the west and Chanctonbury Hill with its distinctive crown of trees.

I will be the first to admit that the bus shelter may not be much to look at, but for me it represents an important gateway to the South Downs and the start of my Sussex Day walk.

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My Family History Week: Sunday 17th June 2012

17 Jun

Not a great deal happened to my family tree this week, a fair bit of planning and plotting and some transcribing, but not a lot of actual updating.

Adding missing birth details

I spent a bit of time playing with my database and creating a list of those people without either a birth or baptism date. Now I have a list of 379 individuals and have started work on adding missing birth details.

So far I have only updated one individual, not much I know, but it is a start. Of course it doesn’t help that it is very hard for me to work on just one event, the birth event, because this inevitably leads to something else.

The Diary of Percy Ebenezer Trower

I made good progress on the diary of my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower. I have transcribed one page a night except for Friday and Saturday, when I was too busy. It has proved quite an interesting experience and so far has been a lot easier than I expected.

So far there hasn’t really been much family history information apart from Percy’s day-to-day activities, there is no way that I am going to be able record every aspect of his daily life in his entry in my family history software.

I already have the diary set up as a source, but I may need to create a custom attribute that records when someone gets a mention in the diary that isn’t directly related to normal events like births, marriages and deaths.

The week ahead …

More of the same this week, expect that I want to try to get some more birth dates added. I realise that I am not going be able to transcribe Percy’s diary every night, but I think I should be able to manage five pages a week, which will be better than nothing.

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