Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Sussex on a sunny September day

Because we're barely 20 miles from the border of Kent with East Sussex, I spend almost as much time riding there as I do in my home county.
Today's little jaunt took me right down through 1066 Country, to some of the most historically important places in the county.

Town named after Battle Abbey, which stands in the centre of the town. The abbey was built overlooking the scene of the Battle of Hastings and dedicated to St. Martin. The battle itself took place at Senlac.
In 1070 Pope Alexander II ordered the Normans to do penance for killing so many people during their conquest of England. So William the Conqueror vowed to build an abbey where the Battle of Hastings had taken place, with the high altar of its church on the supposed spot where King Harold fell in that battle on Saturday, 14 October 1066. He did start building it, dedicating it to St. Martin, sometimes known as "the Apostle of the Gauls," though William died before it was completed. Its church was finished in about 1094 and consecrated during the reign of his son William Rufus.
Although ruined during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the impressive gatehouse is a magnificent centrepiece to the little town.

The town itself is well worth a wander round, with its pretty buildings and plentiful shops and cafes. 

Also worth a visit is the Yesterday's World, museum of shops, which stands across the road from the Abbey ruins. Expect plentiful cries of 'My Mum had one of those!' and 'Ooh I remember them!'


Well, Pevensey Castle actually.
Beginning in the 4th century as one of the last and strongest of the Roman 'Saxon Shore' forts, two-thirds of whose towered walls still stand. It was the landing place of William the Conqueror's army in 1066. During the century after the Conquest a full-scale Norman castle, with a great square keep and a powerful gatehouse, was built within one corner of the fort. In the 1250s the towered bailey wall was constructed, and soon put to the test during the great siege of 1264.
Although in ruins, the site is huge, and there's plenty to look at.


Winchelsea is one of those small places that has benefitted by being by-passed at quite an early stage. The tortuous hill that carried most of the traffic between Hastings and Rye around the outside of the town, has meant that the old structure of the town has been preserved.
Founded in 1288 by Edward I, it lies about a mile inland from the current coastline, approximately two miles from Rye and seven miles from Hastings.
The town was laid out in a grid pattern of streets, as is clearly still visible to the present day. A large number of cellars were constructed at the time, and guided tours of these famous Medieval Cellars are run by a team of volunteers. 
Almost the entire town is a designated Conservation Area and most of the surrounding land is owned and managed by the National Trust. Many buildings in the town are Grade I or Grade II listed. The present town replaced an earlier town of the same name, sometimes known as Old Winchelsea, destroyed by storms in 1287.

There are many buildings of significant interest within the town, including 3 of the original town gates. 

The Church of St. Thomas lies amidst ruins, at the heart of the town, and is well worth investigating.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Hastings - old world seaside town.

Along with Scarborough in Yorkshire, Hastings ranks as one of my favourite seaside towns. Ignoring the obvious attraction of the May Day biker event, it's a slightly shabby, yet very friendly place.
The Old Town is full of quaint buildings, and the seafront has attractions for all the family.
It is overlooked by beautiful castle ruins, and there are wonderful places to walk and relax, such as Fairlight and Alexandra Park.
I've not got around to photographing it yet, but here is a taster:
This is the former Georgian Church of  St. Mary In The Castle, situated halfway along the seafront. It has been lovingly restored, and is set to become an important entertainment venue for the town.

Almost half of the seafront is taken up with the enormous Pelham Place car park, which features a far larger than normal bike parking area, and this is where the May Day bike meet takes place. On the Sunday night, they close the car park to all vehicles, and at 06:00 the next morning, it is opened to motorcycles only. 
If the weather is fine, you can expect to see 30-40,000 motorcycles over the course of the day, and Pelham Place quickly fills up. Bikes spill out all over the town, and parking is allowed down the middle of the main road. There are stalls and bike displays all over the centre of town.

Oh, and Pelham Place even has parking for seagulls...............

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Peculiar Romney Marsh, the lost parishes...

......or more correctly, Romney Marshes because the area known generically as Romney Marsh, actually comprises 3 enclosed and drained, or 'inned', marsh areas - Romney Marsh, Walland Marsh and Denge Marsh, each enclosed by 'walls' of raised ground, such as the Rhee Wall, which enabled the enclosed ground to be drained.
The enclosed ground is very fertile, and from Roman times, has been heavily farmed, both as arable land, and more famously, for sheep breeding.
Over the centuries, the small towns along the coast, such as Hythe, New Romney and Lydd have thrived reasonably well, whilst further inland the Marsh has suffered from severe depopulation for one reason and another.
The former parishes are named on old tithe maps, which show that they were abandoned in the late-Middle Ages. The ruins are now protected as Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

The main reason for the decline of local settlements at that time was the Black Death. Add to that the problem of malaria as well as other water borne diseases which made the Marsh a hostile place to live. Mortality rates on the Marsh were twice as high as in villages just a few miles away.

This has resulted in several lost parishes, which I aim to photograph and describe here, over the period of this summer. Most visitors and incomers to this area will not recognise the names of them, but true locals will know them, and know where evidence can still be found.

I know the location of all of them, except Blackmanstone - that I know roughly, but not exactly. I shall have to search it out! (Good excuse to ride my bike)

Hope All Saints

The only reference I know as to its' location, is Hasted, who describes it thus.......

IT is very small, having no house within it. The court-lodge has been down for many years, a looker's hut being all that remains on the scite of it. The church was situated close on the other side of the road to it, of which there are only two or three stones remaining. The lands of it are mostly marsh, some of which are ploughed up, and the whole of it much the same as that of Orgarswike, last-described. 

I know that it was to the north of St. Mary In The Marsh...........

Broomhill, or Bromehill, used to lie in the area of the current Lydd Army Ranges, located on an island on a spit of land on the western edge of the Walland Marsh. 
In 1287, a severe storm hit the channel, and the movement of shingle blocked the outlet of the River Rother at Romney, changing its path forever down to Rye. Bromehill and Old Winchelsea were swept away.
Surprisingly, the decayed remains of the church are shown on a map produced by John Norden in 1595.
The village was never rebuilt after the storm.
Broomhill is just a scatter of stones near an abandoned farm house. It was excavated in the 1980's and was estimated to have been built in 1200AD on the newly drained Walland Marsh

Just south of Lydd. Closed when Lydd army ranges were started during WWII.

This I do know, but have not yet photographed it. Only the 13th century tower and part of the 12th century nave of the church remains, somewhat delapidated and ivy-covered. It lies in the same general area as Orgarswick.

A lot of people may know this one, due to the curious location of its' church in a deserted part of Walland Marsh.
The Church of St. Thomas a Becket, stands in the middle of a field, and until the surrounding marsh drainage was improved, at times could only be approached by boat.
A service is still held there on the 1st. Sunday in every month. The tiny lane that leads to Fairfield, is probably one of the walls that 'inned' the Walland Marsh.

The church has been encased in brick to protect and preserve it.

West of Dungeness, now just a stone cross on a stepped plinth.

Just south of Lydd. Closed when Lydd Army ranges were started.

The ruins of the church of All Saints is all that remains of Hope, and indeed, the ruins are now simply known as Hope All Saints. They lie down the lane which runs from New Romney to Ivychurch.
It dates from the 12th century and has been abandoned since the 17th century. Years later it became a favourite for the smugglers.

I bet you've been through Jesson! But you wouldn't have realised it.
It's not that it has completely disappeared, it's just that it is now called St. Mary's Bay!
It was likely named after Jesson Farm, built around 1820, in what is now Jefferstone Lane. The name Jesson was changed to St. Mary's Bay on 12 October 1935.

Midley  was built on what was then an island between Lydd and Romney - probably the 'middle isle'.  The west wall of the 15th century church remains standing. It was deserted by the 16th century.

During WWII there was an RAF airfield here.

The church was abandoned many centuries ago and no trace remains.  The site is marked by a stone cross near Chapel Cottage Farm a few miles north west of Dymchurch.
At one time, Orgarswick was a 'rotten borough', entitled to send 2 members to parliament.

The hamlet still exists, but the church is a recently 'lost' parish. It lies just off the A256 between Ham Street and Brenzett. 
The church, dedicated to St. Augustine, is one of the more remote churches on Romney Marsh. It is very small, and lies at the end of a grass track.
It mostly dates from the 13th. Century, but the upper part of the tower is a later addition. There are 14 buttresses to combat the constant problem of subsidence.
Sadly, it was declared redundant, and its upkeep and maintenance were placed in the care of the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust in 1984.
At one time it was used as an indoor short mat bowling rink.
In Spring it is surrounded by hundreds of daffodils.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

More of Kent

It's been a lovely sunny day here in Kent, so I've been out for a ride. I went to the little church of All Saints, in Tudeley, to see the wonderful Marc Chagall windows. I've updated the page for Kent accordingly, and added a little bit about Biddenden and Goudhurst, both of which were on the route I chose to take.

Monday, 28 April 2014

New idea....

I have a new blog - British History - As I See It, Here you will find a new page devoted to the history of the British Isles. I hope to gradually build this up and tie it in with the places I've been to, and documented on here. It will also link to some articles on my other blog The Life Of LittleInsect

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

More from Sussex


Rye Harbour lies about 2 miles from the centre of Rye itself, just over the Sussex border with Kent. It is essentially the mouth of the River Rother, which used to enter the sea at Romney, but changed course to Rye. The mouth of the river is enhanced by the rivers Tillingham and Brede, which join it.
There's not a lot, other than the lifeboat station, a cafe, and pub, because most of the land is a designated National Nature Reserve.
Once home to a large fishing fleet, it is now mostly occupied by pleasure craft.
However, it's a pleasant place to park up (decent free car park and loos) and take a stroll in the afternoon sunshine.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

How things stand...............

Well now, I've been made redundant, and I actually finished work on the day that my husband had an operation, following a serious accident. So the decision has been taken to retire, so that I can take care of him.
Obviously, this is going to seriously curtail my trekking all over the country, but I am in the fortunate position of being able to afford to keep at least one of my motorcycles, so I'll be treating you to lots of picture taken closer to home!
I've been getting to grips with my new camera, so future pictures should be a lot better quality than heretofore.
I've made a start, with a small update to the Kent page....................