Updated: Jul 8
Day Seven (Final) - A Journey of Discovery in East Sussex
It was our last day of exploration. John had devised a visit plan of some gentle walking to show us some of the beauty of the Sussex South Downs, and I had checked the website of Michelham Priory which said we didn’t have to pre-book for our Saturday visit. We piled into the car and set off.
First stop was Folkington down a gravelled lane with tree branches forming a lovely canopy overhead. John had been several times on annual walks with our brother Peter along the South Downs which John now missed. Age is creeping us up and the first body parts to feel it most are our feet, ankles and calves, so I’m always looking down to watch where I tread on uneven ground. Now I sport my Dr Martens type boots as everyday footwear.
An opening in front of us showed us the sweeping serenity of the Downs. Home - South Downs National Park Authority It was my first proper visual intake of them and I wanted to walk and explore. For a while, we all climbed up a track, leaned against a field gate and admired the views. Wonderful! Then carefully trod back to the car and off to Wilmington. My son Marcus, said he could have wandered off quite easily on his own and seen us after several hours. Next year you can Marcus at your leisure! Please Click on the photo images to enlarge, and hover over to read any captions. All photos are credited to Marysia Zipser unless otherwise captioned. My carousel photos you can stop and study at any time.
On arrival at Wilmington we stopped in the public car park and read all the signs and information about The Long Man which appeared mysteriously in front of us. It is Europe’s largest portrayal of the human form, dating back to at least 1710 when the surveyor John Rowley illustrated the figure. But what is it exactly? Does it go back to ancient neolithic times? More information can be gleaned here
We wandered out of the car park and turned left down the village street, coming to the remains of the Priory, founded in the 11th century and enlarged in 1243 by Benedictine monks from Grestain Abbey in Normandy. More information is here Wilmington Priory The surviving building is now owned by the Landmark Trust and let as holiday accommodation, details here Wilmington Priory, East Sussex
I loved inspecting these buildings from the outside and especially the flint and stonework. Then onward to Wilmington Church of St Mary & St Peter. Up the pathway through the iron gate, the ancient yew tree presides which is reputed to be over 1600 years old, its vast canopy spreading across the churchyard. What a magnificent sight! The churchyard is a haven of peacefulness, I could have lingered so much longer. The church beckoned me in. My photographs tell my experience. Wilmington – St Mary and St Peter – Sussex Parish Churches St Mary and St Peter's Church, Wilmington
Outside in the churchyard again I veered around in more detail looking at the gravestones noticing their good condition and their protection of the elements by the arboreal canopy.
Notice (left) the graphite rubbing we took of the memorial plaque on large stone tomb to Thomas Ade, his wife and their eleven children.
I plonked myself down on a wooden bench just outside the stone walls to admire the glorious vista of the South Downs and for further contemplation.
Onward now to Michelham Priory at Upper Dicker. We obtained our entry tickets at the gatehouse, crossing the bridge over the moat. The man said that weekend they were, for the first time since lockdown, hosting a Classic Vehicle Show on the expansive lawns. Growing up in a motor business family, John and I were delighted to see the classic cars displayed, so he and Marcus went on for closer inspections. They had scaled down this event this year, limiting cars and visitors on site to comply with social distancing guidances. Michelham Priory boasts England’s longest medieval water filled moat and offers a great day out for all the family. The surviving buildings are owned and administered by the Sussex Archaeological Society. The moat encircles a site steeped in history dating back to 1229, from its foundation by Augustinian canons, through the destruction caused by the dissolution of the monasteries in Tudor times and into its later life as a country house in World War II. All the information you need on this beautiful place and to plan your visit is here https://sussexpast.co.uk/properties-to-discover/michelham-priory and https://www.historichouses.org/houses/house-listing/michelham-priory.html
We all so enjoyed our guided tour learning about its history and artefacts room by room on the ground floor applauding our guide who led us, and then ascended upstairs. I thought the curation throughout was superb. Note our graphite rubbing of an oak bible box, and Marcus’s ink drawing of the Priory frontage.
After our tour, we all wandered off in different directions. There are many photos I took here, and of the magnificent gardens so take your time to study them. I just loved my exploration of the gardens as you will notice.
It was a beautiful ending to our last day of exploration in East Sussex. We drove home to Bexhill base camp to enjoy our final meal together and recollect. Marcus and I are truly thankful to my brother John and his wife Christine who were wonderful gracious hosts and fonts of knowledge. We will be back hopefully next year to fill in those missed touring and walking experiences I highlighted. The next morning we returned to Beeston-Nottingham. I hope you’ve enjoyed my week’s Journey of Discovery in East Sussex and hope my daily blogs and photo montages will entice you to visit this beautiful English region “which oozes in history” as John says.
Marysia Zipser Website ART - CULTURE - TOURISM - Home Facebook Art Culture Tourism - International - Home Facebook /marysia.zipser.7/ Twitter Art-Culture-Tourism (@MarysiaZipser) LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marysia-zipser- Email email@example.com
Updated: Jul 8
Day Six - Journey of Discovery in East Sussex
I booked Herstmonceux Castle gardens tickets online the day before. We entered the main gates at around 11am and motored down the sweeping driveway (passing the Observatory Science Centre on right, still closed to the public) to the car park in front of this magnificent moated red brick castle. What an awesome sight it was! Please study and read their website here Herstmonceux Castle. The Castle operates as an International Study Centre for Queen’s University in Canada. You can tell how excited Marcus and I were by just seeing our expressions taken as a selfie. We’re both fascinated by red brick castles and have wanted to visit the largest red brick century castle (13th century) in the world, Malbork of the Teutonic Order, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in north Poland. However, Herstmonceux is one of the oldest significant brick buildings still standing in England, dating from 1441. Construction began under the then-owner, Sir Roger Fiennes, and was continued after his death in 1449, by his son Lord Dacre.
We entered the castle reception area to pick up our gardens & grounds layout map, and walked up the courtyard admiring the architecture, and into the Long Border and Rose Garden with Sundial. “The bust of Sir John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal and founder of The Royal Greenwich Observatory, stands in front of the large, central sundial.
Largely planted with David Austin modern “English” roses, within the beds can be found varieties of hybrid tea and floribunda shrub roses. Growing in frames and against three of the walls are climbing roses.” (extract from website).
I bent down to smell the first rose I encountered and was knocked out by its fragrance. It was called ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’. I then proceeded to sniff all the roses in the garden, and then was beautifully surprised to nose the climbing rose of ‘Claire Austin’. She was a knock out too! The whole experience made me feel like an orchestral conductor of Procol Harum's beautiful music and words with that first fragrance as lead-in. THAT rose, I decided, will be perfect for a middle section space in my Beeston garden. Let the garden art orchestra begin!
Please Click on the photo images to enlarge, and hover over to read captions. All photos are credited to Marysia Zipser unless otherwise captioned. My carousel photos you can stop and study at any time.
Journeying through all the section gardens and grounds alerted all my senses. The visual effects were tantalizing. All my photos of the gardens and grounds show my passion for all things garden art, landscaping and horticultural. Use them as a ‘journey’ and immerse yourself in their ‘stories’.
I joined up with Marcus at the garden exit and we ventured into the Visitor Centre to study the timeline of the castle and its owners. This explained everything in more detail as to who, what and why, the beginning to the present. As we walked back to the car, we glimpsed back at this beautiful castle, moat and setting, and sighed. Such an awesome experience, and I vowed to return next year and to visit the Observatory Science Centre.
We then motored onto the village of Firle. A Guide to Firle | Things To See and Do in Firle | Sussex This whole area boasts the finest arts, architecture, horticulture, landscaping and all cultures combined into a wholly magnificent history touring experience. Unfortunately Firle Place was still closed due to Covid19 and ‘Charleston’, the home of the Bloomsbury Group’s Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant was fully booked way ahead for garden visitors, so I vowed to return there next year, as well as nearby Glynde. We slowly veered into the village Inn’s car park, and then walked through, deciding it the perfect place to have our late lunch, after we’d explored the village and its church.
As I neared the church, I could hear piano music. I listened more closely at the Norman arched main door, tried to unlock the handle but it didn’t open, so we walked around to the side entrance and freely entered. A lady was practising her music pieces for two weddings and a funeral booked for the weekend. She looked up, stopped and spoke to us charmingly about the Church of St Peter. What a beautiful and calming interior. Marcus and I were fascinated by all the stained glass windows, Brasses, Vestry, Tombs and Chancel. All information is detailed in their church guide booklet and on the websites St Peter's Church | Church in Firle | Firle and West Firle – St Peter (Sussex Parish Churches)
Walking back along the attractive village street we headed for the The Ram Inn for welcome refreshment outside, sat down and talked. We had an afternoon tea appointment with friends at their house in Lewes so we embarked after half an hour. I’ll be back again to wander and study this delightful village and area.
After just ten minutes driving we were in central Lewes and parked in the street by my friends’ house. What a delightful time we had reminiscing, sat down at their large garden table, conversations flowing. Their place was like something out of ‘Country Homes & Interiors’ magazine (see left). After a time they then walked us down to the town’s Pells duck pond and showed us Pells Pool which is the oldest freshwater outdoor public swimming baths, or lido, in the UK that is still operating, its original structure being built in 1860. Awesome! Pells Pool . Then onward to view the River Ouse from the bridge across. Everything so serene. We returned to their house for final goodbyes, and drove leisurely back to John and Christine’s home at Bexhill...but I will return to Lewes at a later date to see so much more. Tomorrow, our last day, is to Folkington, Wilmington, the Long Man, Michelham Priory & Gardens.
I hope you enjoyed our Day Six. Please click the blue ‘Like’ button below and write me any comments if you so wish. Many thanks. Marysia Zipser Website ART - CULTURE - TOURISM - Home Facebook Art Culture Tourism - International - Home Facebook /marysia.zipser.7/ Twitter Art-Culture-Tourism (@MarysiaZipser) LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marysia-zipser- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Day Five - A Journey of Discovery in East Sussex
Day Four I will write about and publish at a later date as my brother John and I focused most of the day on our family history archives and photographs he keeps at Bexhill so my blog subject will be on our family ancestry. Also my youngest son Marcus Gilmore came to join us via train from Beeston, Nottingham, and we collected him from Hastings station around 4.15pm. So it went on to be an entertaining evening of family recollections.
Day Five. Battle Abbey and the site of the Battle of Hastings of 14 October 1066 was on our wish list plan weeks before, so I had booked two days earlier timed tickets for English Heritage Battle Abbey at 11.00 am for Marcus and I. It certainly turned out to be a day to remember. Both Marcus and I are keen ‘medievalists’ and just love exploring historic buildings and landscapes, so 1066 Country was the perfect region to satisfy our history passions and all things heritage. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/1066-battle-of-hastings-abbey-and-battlefield/ Please navigate around this website to find out everything for your visit.
After going through the Gatehouse entrance and submitting our digital ticketing receipts we entered into the courtyard terrace. Several EH staff were promoting their outside group talks at certain times of the day so we booked one at 12.30 to attend. I also asked whether there were any specific places or ancient stone walls we could do section graphite rubbings of, as we had come armed with an A3 sketch pad of white 100gsm paper sheets which John had given us together with two graphite sticks. One said he didn’t know particularly but he’d go and find out, and a minute later Caroline appeared and helped answer our questions. She asked us to follow her up one of the tower steps to the first and second levels. I loved the first floor studying all the educational EH banners telling the story of why and how the Abbey was built on this historic site. I could see a wonderful example to make a graphite rubbing showing the original 13th century herringbone stone pattern at the back of the fireplace.
After descending back onto the terrace below, we then walked along the pathway encircling the vast 100 acre site keeping to the outside of the perimeter walls. We ambled past the cafe, the abbey ruins, the walled garden, the ice house and dairy, so much to explore. The pathway around the battlefield we dismissed on this occasion leaving enthralled families to experience. Coming round to the original site layout of the monastery, it was a time to sit down and contemplate and Marcus started to sketch some scenes. Namely the Dorter or Dormitory over the Novices accommodation and Monks Common Room.
I noticed the 1903 memorial where ‘the brave Harold the Saxon fell’ and saw the chance to do a graphite rubbing of one of the surfaces as a memento. Our 12.30pm talk was ready so the young EH historian gathered us and several families inviting us to sit down on the lawn by the Abbots House where he related to us the story of Harold Godwinson during his last twenty years leading up to that fateful day in October 1066. I must applaud this young man who enthralled us all so much, so many facts we learned understanding Harold’s character and pathway to becoming successor to King William the Confessor, his brother-in-law, in January 1066. You can discover more about him on this Wikipedia link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Godwinson
Afterwards we walked back to the gatehouse and entered into the Shop which I was very impressed with, treating myself to a tapestry ceramic coaster (£5.00), greeting card (£2.50) and National Portrait Gallery Kings & Queens lined notebook (£2.50). You can buy online products from the shop too via the EH website. Caroline saw us exiting and called out how our tour went and what rubbings we managed to glean so we showed her and thanked her for her great help. We then wandered to explore the pretty village of Battle in front of us and sat down in one of the street’s bistros and relished some cool fruity drinks. More useful links below. https://www.battlesussex.co.uk/ https://www.britainexpress.com/counties/eastsussex/abbeys/battle.htm
Back to John and Christine’s Bexhill home for a sandwich lunch, and then we all motored onward to Rye. Rye is a beautiful town that must be on everyone’s tour of East Sussex. It is full of history, ancient buildings, cobbled lanes, inns and enticing shops of all kinds. In medieval times, it was an important member of the Cinque Ports confederation and almost entirely surrounded by the sea. Read more about it here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rye,_East_Sussex and https://www.visit1066country.com/destinations/rye We had a great time exploring the streets, the beautiful and peaceful churchyard of St Mary’s high on the hill (below) and the castle, or Ypres Tower, built to defend the town from the French, now part of the Rye Museum. https://www.ryeparishchurch.org.uk/history.htm
Another Cinque Port we drove to was Winchelsea https://www.winchelsea.com/ close to Rye and admired its attractive streets and old houses, so we stopped for a few minutes for me to photo capture the church exterior and where John Wesley gave his last open air sermon on 7th October 1790. Wesley’s Chapel is a few minutes walk away.
We came back to base brimming full of history, our heads and conversations spinning and bodies tired, what a fantastic day! After Marcus and I treated ourselves to takeaways, John and Christine cooked supper for their invited Bexhill friend and author, John V. Watson, who was a very entertaining raconteur of all things cinematic. John is an expert researcher and writer of cinema history and classic films with several books published and applauded by university academia. Most of his books are available to purchase on Amazon, his latest ones entitled “Paradise Lost: The History of the Regal Cinema, Swaffham, Norfolk: 1919-60. The history of a rural picture house long since vanished.” (2020) and “Julius Hagen: “The Czar of Twickenham” Film Studios. The Complete Filmography: Book One” (2019). https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=John+V+Watson&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss
I veered happily exhausted off to bed leaving John, Christine, Marcus and John to continue conversations, for tomorrow Marcus and I were to explore Herstmonceux Castle grounds, Firle and visit friends in Lewes. I hope you enjoyed our Day Five and if so please click the blue ‘Like’ button below and write me any comments if you so wish. Many thanks. Marysia Zipser Website ART - CULTURE - TOURISM - Home Facebook Art Culture Tourism - International - Home Facebook /marysia.zipser.7/ Twitter Art-Culture-Tourism (@MarysiaZipser) LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marysia-zipser- Email email@example.com