Hilaire Belloc bought King's Land (in Shipley, Sussex), 5 acres and a working windmill for £1000 in 1907 and it was his home for the rest of his life. Belloc loved Sussex as few other writers have loved her: he lived there for most of his 83 years, he tramped the length and breadth of the county, slept under her hedgerows, drank in her inns, sailed her coast and her rivers and wrote several incomparable books about her. "He does not die that can bequeath Some influence to the land he knows, Or dares, persistent, interwreath Love permanent with the wild hedgerows; He does not die, but still remains Substantiate with his darling plains."

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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Secret Shore Project: Smuggling, Folklore, South Coast Songs and Shanties. CD and book...


There have been two very interesting Secret Shore Project developments recently...

Firstly, Chris Hare will be launching his book Smuggling and Folklore in Sussex and Hampshire on the 30th of November at the Beechwood Hall Hotel at 7.30pm in Worthing.

Chris will be giving an illustrated talk about the book and also about how the research was undertaken. He will introduce some of the researchers and explain how important their work was in the writing of the book.

Two hundred years ago the coast of Sussex and Hampshire were alive with the illegal activities of local smuggling gangs. In this book, Chris recounts the real events of those days including the bloody confrontations that frequently took place between the smugglers and the authorities.

This book also delves into the folklore of the south coast and contrasts a survey of local superstitions carried out by pioneering folklorist, Charlotte Latham in Sussex in 1868, with the findings of the Secret Shore folklore survey carried out in 2015.

The book is lavishly illustrated and will make ideal Christmas gift. Copies can be ordered from here 

Secondly, the Project has launched a CD of Traditional songs & shanties of the South Coast towns. They are brought to life by local singers who learnt them at workshops run by Emily Longhurst and Chris Hare, as part of the Secret Shore project managed by the South Downs Society. The words to all the songs are included inside, so that you can learn them yourself.

The Secret Shore project, managed by the South Downs Society, was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund and this CD is the culmination of the project.

Copies of the book can be ordered here.

Well done Chris!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

BBC footage of the recent Belloc walk in Sussex...


Further to the last post you can watch the BBC South programme which, amongst other things, contains footage of the recent Belloc Walk here.

Monday, 10 October 2016

BBC Programme this Sunday: Craig Henderson celebrates the remarkable Sussex landscapes that have inspired generations of writers...




This Sunday at 3.45 'Craig Henderson celebrates the remarkable Sussex landscapes that have inspired generations of writers, as he journeys from the mud and unpredictable tides of Chichester harbour to the South Downs national park. Among the authors offering unique insights into how writers capture a sense of place are best-selling novelists Kate Mosse and Jane Rusbridge.'
The programme can be viewed on BBC 1 in the 'South'. 

During the programme there will be footage of the recent Belloc inspired Walk to the Devil's Jumps which was filmed by the BBC. According to them, and as previously mentioned, 'the whole event gave a real ‘sense of place’ – that’s a BBC desire at the moment – local programming that delivers for local people… '.


Among the authors offering unique insights into how writers capture a sense of place are best-selling novelists Kate Mosse and Jane Rusbridge.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The recent Walk. Film footage on You Tube...




I'm sorry to mention the recent Walk, again, but some You Tube footage of the event has emerged. Full marks to Chris Evans of Redwood TV for a first class standard of production.

Further footage will be shown by the BBC during the slot before 'Songs of Praise' (on Sunday the 16th of October). According to them 'the whole event gave a real ‘sense of place’ – that’s a BBC desire at the moment – local programming that delivers for local people… ' So there we have it.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Walk around the Devil's Jump in Sussex...





The Walk around the Devil's Jump in Sussex, on Sunday the 31st of July, was a great success.

We met at the Royal Oak pub at Hooksway just north of Chichester. A Real Pub with Real Ale located on the South Downs Way. You could easily miss it, secluded as it is in a small valley down a dead end. The pub is the only remaining part of a small village which existed on this site but was wiped out by plague as were, it seems, several other small villages in this area.

From the Royal Oak we walked the two miles or so to the Devil's Jumps. The Jumps are a series of Bronze Age burial mounds that are aligned to face the setting Sun on the Summer solstice. In fact only one of the mounds contains a burial, so the other mounds are probably ceremonial markers. This part of the Downs is steeped in folklore and literary associations: Hilaire Belloc, W.H.Hudson and Arthur Beckett all walked this way.

After a brief Talk, by the veteran Bellocian and Sussex Folk Singer Chris Hare, we recited some of Belloc's poems and sang a few Ditties. Many thanks go to Nick Flint, who is the Vicar of Rusper and author of Cautionary Pilgrim - Walking Backwards with Belloc, for weighing in with some of his own favourites from the writings of the great man. Nick is Sussex born and bred and grew up with The Four Men. During the course of writing Cautionary Pilgrim Nick discovered that he was distantly related to Mad Jack Fuller. An interesting forbear!

On our return to the pub we attempted to get served (not far shy of a hundred people) sang a few songs, exchanged stories and, amongst other things, talked about Belloc under the watchful eye of the BBC. They filmed everything and will be including some of the footage during a Programme due to be broadcast during the slot before 'Songs of Praise' (on Sunday the 16th of October). According to them 'the whole event gave a real ‘sense of place’ – that’s a BBC desire at the moment – local programming that delivers for local people… ' So there we have it.

It should be added that we blasted the Royal Oak with music and so now it's time to unashamedly plug Chris Hare's South Downs Folk Singers. Without them Sussex would be a poorer place...




Thursday, 7 July 2016

The next walk in Belloc's Sussex...





An invitation from the veteran Bellocian Chris Hare:

''How would you like to come on a walk to one of the most beautiful, remote and mystical points on the South Downs and then end our ramble with some songs in a real country pub?

I am hoping that your answer to these questions is a rousing 'yes'!

This is my plan: we meet in the car park of the Royal Oak pub at Hooksway north of Chichester at 4pm on Sunday 31st July.

From here we walk the two miles or so to the Devil's Jumps. And what, I hear you ask, are the Devil's Jumps? They are a series of Bronze Age burial mounds that are aligned to face the setting sun on the summer solstice. I say they are burial mounds, but actually only one of the mounds contains a burial, so the other mounds are probably ceremonial markers. This part of the Downs is steeped in folklore and literary associations. Hilaire Belloc, W.H.Hudson and Arthur Beckett all walked this way.

Although the walk is not long in distance it is steep in places, so please bear this in mind before taking part!

On our return to the pub car park we can sing songs, have a drink or two and even enjoy a meal. Dave at the Royal Oak is kindly opening just for us (they do not normally open on Sunday or Monday evenings).

If you have been to Hooksway and the Devil's Jumps before you will know how glorious the Downs are at this point. If it is your first visit you will be in for a treat I promise you! I will talk about the history and folklore at various points on the walk. The Rev. Nick Flint, Vicar of Rusper, who has written a book following in the footsteps of Hilaire Belloc will also be joining us.

If you would like to book a table and order a meal, please contact Dave at the Royal Oak. Their menu is on the pub website - www.royaloakhooksway.co.uk and you can call the pub on 01243 535257.

I would expect us to be back at the pub by 6/ 6.30pm. Some people may like to go home at this point or stay for convivial company - the choice is yours!

I do hope you can join us. Late afternoon/ early evening is the most atmospheric time to visit the Devil's Jumps. Keep an eye out for gamboling fairies!''



Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Another Review for Jim Malia's book 'In Belloc's Steps'...

Grimsell Pass


Jim Malia read Hilaire Belloc's Path to Rome under the desk at school aged 16 and decided that one day he would follow Belloc's own pilgrimage of a century earlier. Unlike Belloc, who managed this feat in 29 days - including wheeled transport  when desperate - Malia took four years, starting in the year 2000, breaking off for a funeral back in Britain and then resuming in 2003. Anyone who has undertaken a similar project will recognise the blisters, the rain, the pleasure of good wine, the rigours of tent life and the relief of an occasional lift by car. Malia is an entertaining writer. He includes maps and details of welcoming hostelries along the way for those who want to emulate him.


Francis Phillips - Catholic Herald April the 8th 2016.