I decided to take advantage of the dry, bright and unseasonably warm weather and get out for a walk. I have already said that I want to keep my walks more local and more convenient this year, and today’s walk was an excellent example of this because it was essentially a walk from one bus stop to the next.
It would have taken less than ten minutes on the bus, but because of the rather circuitous route I took it was more like four hours, partly because of the frequent stops I made to take photos and the necessity of having to carefully pick my way along some rather muddy paths.
The route was from Pyecombe in West Sussex to Patcham in East Sussex (actually on the outskirts of the City of Brighton and Hove), by way of Wolstonbury Hill, Clayton, the Clayton Windmills (Jack and Jill), a short section of the South Downs Way, part of the Sussex Border Path and the Chattri Indian War Memorial.
This was only the second time that I have been up Wolstonbury Hill, but like so many of the hills along the South Downs it has held my attention since the first time, and I have been meaning to pay it a visit ever since. Last time I was there it was a hot June day, and whilst today was not exactly cold, visiting on a winter’s day certainly shows the hill in a different light, quite literally.
From Wolstonbury Hill dropped down to the village of Clayton, famous for its railway tunnel on the main London to Brighton railway. There are not a lot of buildings in Clayton, but there is a delightful little church, sitting at the foot of the hill.
My next destination was the top of the hill, home to the two Clayton Windmills Jack and Jill. Jack was looking very much worse for wear, it is in private hands and currently up for sale if you fancy living in a historic windmill. Jill is in safer hands and was looking absolutely stunning in the bright sunshine.
From the windmills I headed south by way of the South Downs Way, then skirting round Pyecombe Golf Course before joining the Sussex Border Path which leads on to Patcham past the Chattri Indian War Memorial. This was the main reason for my walk today, it has been on my list of places to visit for years, but I never quite got around to visiting.
The history of the Chattri is well documented and it is a truly fitting memorial in a superb setting and it good to see it is well looked after and it actually looks like it is quite a popular destination for visitors judging by the number of people I passed on the way. There is an element of pilgrimage involved in visiting as there is no vehicle access to the memorial and the nearest car park is about a mile and a quarter away.
So that lead me down to the village of Patcham, a place I have passed through many times on the bus into Brighton, but never stopped to explore. I didn’t really do much exploring this time, but there were some quite nice cottages and a few shops. The approach to Patcham was not particularly nice having left the tranquility of the Downs one has to cross over the busy A27 Brighton-by-pass (fortunately there is a footbridge) and pass behind the back gardens of several houses, with their accompanying overspill of garden and household waste.
Overall though this was a great start to 2012, a nice gentle walk over the Downs (about seven and a half miles), lots of interest along the way, and only a couple of paths were the mud was a problem, which considering it is early January was quite fortunate.
I have to admit I was in two minds about whether to make my way down to Lewes, East Sussex on Sunday for the Family History Open Day at the East Sussex Record Office. Being a Sunday public transport was an issue and the weather wasn’t particularly brilliant either, but in the end I was glad I went.
I was a little disappointed to find it so busy, I know that is good for them, but it did make things a little awkward in the cramped surroundings of the record office and meant that I didn’t get chance to take one of the behind the scenes tour, which were booked up until well into the afternoon.
The search room itself was a buzz of activity compared to its usual quiet atmosphere. There were two local family history society stalls here, representatives of the local library service, a display on the new record office “The Keep” and a selection of documents on display.
Most visitors however seemed to be taking the opportunity to explore the shelves around the outside of the search room, where various books, catalogues and transcriptions are held. Not wishing to be left out I took the opportunity to take a look at some Brighton Directories to see if I could find some mention of Frank TROWER’s brother, but to no avail.
For me though the most fascinating and instructive experience of my visit was watching the conservator at work, demonstrating how to clean a map and discussing other aspects of document preservation and conservation, and how to use a nutmeg grater when cleaning a map!
It was a really good day, with the cramped environment of the record office being the only drawback on the whole event. This just highlights the need for a new record office and fortunately work has recently begun on the new building, although it will be a couple of years before it opens for business.