Tag Archives: sussex day

Spare a thought for Sussex Day

1 Jun

As Britain gears itself up for the long Diamond Jubilee weekend please spare a thought for Sussex Day.

Saturday 16th June 2012 is Sussex Day, a day to celebrate everything that is great about Sussex. You can find out more about Sussex Day on the West Sussex County Council website.

Hopefully because Sussex Day falls on a weekend this year there will be more events celebrating Sussex than previous years, although I have found a few events on the 16th June this year. It has quite clearly not made it as a major feature of the calendar yet. Don’t expect it to be celebrated by a Google Doodle any time soon.

This week has seen a steady increase in the amount of bunting and number of Union Flags that have taken hold on all manner of public and private buildings. It is great to see the country getting in the spirit of the occasion, if only some of that spirit could be bottled and kept safely for the 16th.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Time to think about Sussex Day 2011

23 May

Sussex Day 2011 is fast approaching and like the last two years I want to celebrate the 16th June in some special way. The previous years this has involved spending the day walking and visiting ancestral locations.

Unfortunately this year I will not be able to get the day off work (the 16th June is a Thursday this year), so my options are going to be rather limited in terms of walking. I still hope to be able to spend at least part of the day walking. I should be able to get three or four hours walking in after work so I will be looking for a walking route home that is a little different to my usually walking route.

With limited options for walking I will have to divert my energies to researching and writing about Sussex and my Sussex ancestors. I know I normally write quite a bit about Sussex already but I am thinking of a having a week-long celebration of all things Sussex.

If I am going to do that then I need to start planning, researching and writing now. I won’t have much opportunity to get out and do much new research between now and Sussex Day, but I have plenty of material already at hand that needs writing up, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

For the first time in a few weeks I am starting to get excited at the prospect of have something special to write about. Even if I can’t get out for a decent walk on Sussex Day I will find other ways to celebrate the day.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Sussex Day 2010 is nearly here

4 Jun

The 16th June is Sussex Day, an excuse to celebrate everything and anything to do with the county of Sussex.

There are a few events organised to mark the occasion, but never being one to follow the crowd I shall probably do my own thing, probably involving walking and family history.

Last year I ended up walking 20 miles through the Sussex countryside visiting several ancestral villages, houses and churches along the way, before ending up on top of Wolstonbury Hill, overlooking the landscape where my ancestors lived.

Until now I haven’t really given much thought to what I will do to mark Sussex Day this year, but weather permitting I shall probably do something similar, but maybe not quite so far this time around.

Happy St. George’s Day 2010

23 Apr

Happy St. George’s Day to all my readers, and that is about the limit as far as my celebrations of St. George’s Day will stretch. As I said last year, there is not really any great outpouring of patriotism surrounding the Patron Saint of England.

Perhaps it is because of this that I have struggled to find any historic postcards that celebrate St. George’s Day. I am sure there must be some with depictions of St. George but I haven’t found any. Instead I present you with a postcard of a church dedicated to him.

St. George's Church, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex

This is St. George’s Church in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex. I am not aware of any direct family link with this church, although there were several of my ancestors living nearby. This postcard was published by A.H. Homewood from nearby Burgess Hill, probably around 1905.

Personally, this card reminds me of my Sussex Day (16th June) walk last year when I visited Hurstpierpoint and passed by St. George’s Church.

St Georges Church, Hurstpierpoint

Sadly the church is not in use any more, or at least it wasn’t last year and I don’t expect the situation has changed since. I am sure that in the future a new use for it will emerge, at least it is now a Grade II listed building so it should receive some protection in the future.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 10 – Wolstonbury Hill to Hassocks

26 Jun

Having reached the top of Wolstonbury Hill the rest of my Sussex Day walk could only be downhill.

I considered the best way home, I could go west and down to Newtimber and Poynings and catch the bus. However that would have meant crossing the busy A23 which I wasn’t keen to do.

So instead I headed east, a path lead south a short way from the top of the hill and joined an east-west path which slowly descended towards Clayton. About half a mile along the path, another path lead north, into some shade and continued downhill and eventually out onto New Way Lane.

About a quarter of a mile east was the village of Clayton, there were only two things I knew about Clayton, the railway tunnel and the twin windmills of Jack and Jill. I discovered there was also a lovely little church with some quite stunning wall paintings, and a splendid graveyard with wonderful views of the South Downs, in fact it was almost on the Downs.

A path lead north from Clayton along the side of the railway line for about a mile, straight to Hassocks railway station, not surprising really considering it was following the railway line. It was just after four o’clock when I arrived at Hassocks railway station, just enough time to visit the local newsagents to buy some more drink, before catching a train to Brighton and a bus home.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 9 – Hurstpierpoint Cemetery to Wolstonbury Hill

25 Jun

When I left Hurstpierpoint Cemetery I didn’t really where I was heading. I knew that I was ultimately going to end up at Hassocks railway station, so I could get home, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there.

The shortest and quickest route would have been to head east out of Hurstpierpoint on the main road, but I wanted to be out in the countryside, so I decided to follow a path just north of the cemetery. Besides it was still early afternoon, far too early to be heading home!

When the path got clear of the houses to the south the views opened up to the South Downs and there looming up in front of me was Wolstonbury Hill, just begging to be climbed.

The walk so far had been pretty flat, Hurstpierpoint Cemetery was really the last genealogical connection, so now it was time to put the family history to one side and to personally challenge myself with a climb up the hill.

It was a nice gentle route to the foot of the Downs, past the magnificent Danny House (currently a retirement home). All the time Wolstonbury Hill getting closer and seeming more and more unclimbable. I reached New Way Lane and approached the foot of the hill, there was no turning back now.

No turning back maybe, but no way forward either! The footpath was blocked, closed to allow repair work, for six months, how could the West Sussex County Council do this to me? Here I was ready to ascend Wolstonbury Hill and they had closed the path!

Of course there was more than one route up to the top, only the northern and western sides were closed, I continued east along the lane and found another path heading south, before long it started to climb and I knew I was on the right path. The path was well shaded, but not particularly smooth, not far up the hill I came to a junction of paths and I wasn’t entirely sure where I was, eastward seemed to take me out into the open and back downhill again, that was no good, so after consulting the map I pressed on south again up further.

A short distance further I came to a gateway that opened out onto the side of the hill, and I could see the path leading right to the top. This was it, after another application of suncream (and a mouthful of drink) I headed out into the blazing sun and launched myself up the hill.

That last section was one of the most exhilarating climbs of my life, the sun was hot, there was little breeze, my leg muscles were complaining, but I was all alone, not another soul in sight, enjoying the beautiful Sussex landscape that emerged once I had cleared the trees.

It felt fantastic to be pushing myself to climb this hill, I had never witnessed the views from the top before, but I am sure many of my ancestors had before me. It had been a struggle but the reward was well worth it. It was a clear day, a little bit hazy in the distance but that didn’t matter, and I could see for miles in all directions. I wandered around the earthworks at the top of the hill, visited the trig point and just savoured the moment. There was a slight breeze here, but little shelter apart from a few gorse bushes. I found some shade and sat down, quenching my thirst with more drink and applying more suncream.

I sat and admired the view, it was breathtaking. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what half of the places were, what mattered was that it was Sussex, my Sussex, my ancestors Sussex. I could think of no better place to be on Sussex Day. The sense of achievement was tremendous, I felt physically and emotionally that I was on top of the world.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 8 – Hazeldene Terrace to Hurstpierpoint Cemetery (hang on in there, I’ve almost reached the end!)

24 Jun

This stage of my Sussex Day walk was another quite short section with the destination being more interesting than the actual walk.

From Hazeldene Terrace it was a case of retracing my steps up Western Road, taking a short-cut through Manor Road onto Cuckfield Road and following that to the High Street. The cemetery is a short way along the High Street at the end of South Avenue.

A couple of relations are buried here or have their ashes interred here, although I only knew the exact location of one, my great grandfather Henry John TROWER. His grave is marked by a small headstone and a holly tree.

It occurs to me as I write this that my great grandfather has unintentionally become a constant theme running through this walk. He was baptised at Henfield Church, married (twice) at Sayers Common Church, lived at Vicarage Cottage, worked at Cobbs Mill, lived in Hazeldene Terrace, his funeral was held at Hurstpierpoint Church and he was buried in Hurstpierpoint Cemetery.

I wandered around the cemetery in the hope of discovering another relation, it wasn’t a methodical search, just a random wandering checking out the names. To my surprise I did find someone. A simple plaque marked the location of the ashes of William BURT, my great grandfather’s second wife’s second husband (we knew him as Uncle Bill, which was a lot easier).

I like Hurstpierpoint Cemetery, it is well looked after (the north-west corner has been kept uncut to allow wild flowers to grow) and still in use, it is quite small and compact, with a nice brick chapel and all enclosed by a solid brick wall, to the south the view is across to the South Downs and Wolstonbury Hill.

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