Tag Archives: west sussex

Flying the flag for Sussex Day 2012

16 Jun

The Argus (Brighton’s local newspaper) was right when they said that Sussex Day had failed to capture the imagination.

It was also right about the lack of events taking place today to mark the occasion, but that is really nothing new. At the present rate it seems likely that the idea of Sussex Day will be all but forgotten in a couple of years time.

I marked Sussex Day in my usual way, by going for a walk. I had many options for where to walk, the weather wasn’t very promising and I am really out of practice for any long distance walking, but all in all it turned out to be a memorable walk, which I will tell you more about later.

Sussex Day wasn’t completely forgotten, it was good to see at least one village flying the flag for Sussex, although I suspect if they hadn’t already put up the flagpole for the Diamond Jubilee they wouldn’t have bothered.

Flying the Flag for Sussex Day 2012

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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.

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Wordless Wednesday: Betley Bridge

30 May

Betley Bridge, near Henfield, West Sussex (28th May 2012)

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The importance of Betley

29 May

One thing I didn’t mention yesterday when I wrote about my short walk to Betley Bridge was that the area has an important role in my family history.

Just south of the River Adur are two properties, to the west of the old railway line is Great Betley and to the east is Little Betley. The river itself marks the parish boundary between Henfield and West Grinstead in West Sussex so both these properties are just inside the parish of Henfield.

The family connection begins in the 1861 census, when my 3x great-grandfather John Fairs is to be found at Betley (presumably Great Betley) employed as a cowman. Prior to this he had been living “across the river” in West Grinstead, but I can’t pin down when he did start work at Betley.

The railway from Horsham to Shoreham was opened in 1861 and cut through the farmland on which John must have worked. A far more important event however was John’s marriage in 1862 to Mary Ann Weller.

By 1871 the couple had five daughters and were living at Little Betley, probably sharing the small cottage with Henry and Emma Nye and their three young children.

A decade later in 1881 the couple were still at Little Betley, with two of their daughters and sharing the cottage with William and Elizabeth Pierce and their daughter. Just across the fields however at Betley is the 15 year old Ebenezer Trower, my 2x great-grandfather, working as an agricultural labourer.

Although John’s daughter Annie wasn’t living with them in 1881, she obviously wasn’t away that long because in 1889 the she and Ebenezer were married in Henfield Church.

In 1891 the widowed John is still at Little Betley working as an agricultural labourer, and sharing the house with Annie and Ebenezer (also an agricultural labourer) and their two children. One of these was the newly born Henry John Trower my great-grandfather.

By 1901 the families had split up, Ebenezer and Annie with their children to Sayers Common and John had moved closer to the village of Henfield itself.

It is easy for me to forget just how lucky I am to live so close to the house were my great-grandfather (Henry John Trower) and my 2x great-grandmother (Annie Fairs) were probably born and where my 3x great-grandfather (John Fairs) lived for at least 20 years and not forgetting of course my 2x great-grandfather (Ebenezer Trower) and 3x great-grandmother (Mary Ann Weller). And they are just my direct ancestors.

I probably ought to devote some more time to studying this house and the farm on which they lived and worked, it only seems right that I knew more about this particular area, especially considering it is practically on my door step.

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The Opportunistic Wanderer

28 May

For the second time in two days I have seized the opportunity and gone for a walk. Yesterday morning I took advantage of the fact that my wife had to work and got a lift to work with her and walked home, about four and a half miles.

This evening as I made my way home on the bus I could see the South Downs as clear as they had been for weeks, and instantly I knew I had to go and get a closer look.

So when I got home I swapped my work shoes for walking boots and headed out the door. I didn’t have time this evening to go far, so no need for a map or rucksack, only a mobile phone and digital camera.

My destination was Betley Bridge, which once took the railway over the River Adur between Partridge Green and Henfield, West Sussex. From just north of the bridge the southern horizon is dominated by the South Downs, from east to west.

I mentally named the hills one by one as I scanned the skyline from left to right and straining to see them disappearing to the west. I recalled the many hours spent walking along the ridge in the last two years and looked forward to the chance to walk them once again this year.

It felt so good, such freedom. I could quite easily have carried on walking, within a couple of hours I could have been up on the hills, but it would have been getting dark by then and I have to get up early tomorrow so I retraced my steps home.

It was probably only about three miles in all, so no great physical challenge, but standing in the warmth of the evening sunshine and admiring the Downs did a great deal for my sense of wellbeing.

WW2 gun emplacement north of Betley Bridge near Henfield, West Sussex

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Longing to return to the hills again

25 May

I know the time has come once again. Sub-consciously I have begun taking guide books to the South Downs Way off my bookshelf and reading the odd snippet here and there.

Every morning on my bus journey to work I gaze increasingly longingly at the ridge of the South Downs. This morning it wasn’t there, hidden in mist that will no doubt burn off in an hour or two, but by then I will be miles away, with only the clock to gaze longingly at.

It looks increasingly like that my plans to take a week off work this year and walk the SDW are going to have to wait another year. Barring a huge win on the lottery or an unexpected redundancy it doesn’t look like I am going to have the time to do it this year.

This was going to be my challenge this year, but this has been pushed out by London 2012 Olympics and the challenge to remain interested in whatever sporting activity I am watching, despite the crowds and exorbitant prices.

Somehow I am going to have to find some time to walk the SDW this year, having walked it the last two years I want to try to keep the momentum going but it is looking increasingly difficult this year.

I have even contemplated walking it at night, I mean just how much sleep do I really need? Couldn’t I catch up on sleep during the week and spend Friday and Saturday nights on the hills. Probably not, but that is a sign of how desperate I am becoming.

I need to keep reminding myself that it isn’t even June yet and there are probably another five or six months of decent walking weather ahead of me and I only need eight or nine days out of those five or six months.

Looked at like that it doesn’t sound quite such a tall order, but I need to get out and start getting a few more longer walks under my belt, I have really done very little this year so far. I would have started this week, but it has been insanely hot this week, maybe next week will be better.

Keymer Post, South Downs Way (25th May 2010)

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Wordless Wednesday: Waiting in the shadows

23 May

Waiting in the shadows: Henfield Church, West Sussex (13th April 2009)

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