I don’t watch a lot of television these days, but occasionally a programme comes along that justifies taking time out to watch on BBC iPlayer. Such was the case with The Great British Countryside which saw Julia Bradbury and Hugh Dennis exploring the South Downs.
The hour long programme gives a wonderful taste of the South Downs, never lingering long in one place and covering the length of hills from the Seven Sisters on the East Sussex coast, through to the watercress beds of Hampshire.
There is some wonderful scenery, as one would expect, but also some explanation of how the Downs were formed and some of the properties of chalk and flint. Hugh Dennis climbs the chalk cliffs (presumably one of the Seven Sisters) and sees just how soft and crumbly the chalk is. We also learn how the chalk impacts on things like horse racing and growing grapes.
Subjects are varied, taking in the history, agriculture, industry and leisure aspects of the South Downs, in short a real cross-section of how man has interacted with the Downs over the centuries.
This programme is a great introduction to the South Downs and even those like me who have grown up in it’s shadow may learn a thing or two about this wonderful landscape.
This episode of The Great British Countryside is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until Thursday 15th March 2012.
Every once in a while it feels like a particular genealogical resource has been created just for my benefit, such is the case with one of the latest releases from The Parish Register Transcription Society.
I have been eagerly awaiting the latest parish register transcription CD since it was announced last year, because it covers the parish of Henfield, Sussex which has been home to my Trower ancestors for a couple of hundred years.
The transcriptions cover the following registers for the following years:
Naturally I have consulted the Henfield parish registers dozens of time, usually on microfilm or microfiche at the West Sussex Record Office, but to have this transcript available at home is going to be a great boost to my research.
Although I have probably extracted every Trower in the registers, this transcription will become particularly handy when it comes to tracing descendants of my ancestors as a result of the marriages of the women of the family. Each new family surname requires another visit to the parish registers.
This collection of transcriptions is available to buy on CD through their website and others (I ordered my copy from the Sussex Family History Group) or it can be searched online through their pay-per-view Frontis website.
For those with Sussex ancestors the PRTS are currently working on the following parishes: Cuckfield, Pagham, Slinfold and Coldwaltham.
Two weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 at Olympia, London, billed as “the biggest family history event in the world”.
Everything is in place for my three days family history extravaganza, all that I need now is for the snow to clear off and I am all set.
Looking through the list of exhibitors I noticed a rather surprising, but welcome, addition to the usual list of names. The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum from Singleton, West Sussex will have a stand in the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show.
The description from the list of exhibitors gives a good idea of what the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is all about, “Over 45 rescued buildings rebuilt in a beautiful setting in the South Downs National Park, bringing to life homes, farms and workplaces of the South-east over the past 500 years.“
Although there isn’t really a direct connection with family history (except there is in my case), it is a perfect fit for those wishing to learn more about the rural lives of their ancestors. Most rural crafts and occupations are represented at the Weald and Downland in one way or another, especially when you factor in the special events that are held throughout the year.
On top of that you can also take courses at the museum, from working with heavy horses to hedgelaying. As is to be expected from the once heavily wooded counties of Southern England there is a particular emphasis on the use of timber, from charcoal burning to construction techniques.
The museum is a superb place to explore, as I have done on several occasions, and not just because it is set in the Singleton in the South Downs, home to many of my ancestors. If you are at WDYTYA Live then make sure you stop by and find out what they have to offer.