Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Slindon Round

Slindon Pond
Now that autumn has well and truly kicked in we are trying to make the most of whatever good weather we have.  Last Sunday was a good case in point when the day was unexpectedly sunny for a short window of time. The girls seem to have a greater appetite for walking now and so we are trying to encourage that too by taking them out on walks that feature something a bit different in terms of things to look at.  We are very lucky in Sussex to have so many of these places on our doorstep.
Entrance to Slindon Church
I remembered that the village of Slindon had a wonderful pumpkin art display during October and I was keen that we incorporated both that and the rather spooky Nore Folly into our walk.  What was rather unexpected along the way was that the rain clouds came over rather sooner than we thought
St Mary's Slindon
We parked at the bottom end of the village and wandered up through the thatched roof cottages, stopping briefly at the church for a look inside. Slindon church has a few notable memorials inside including one to Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the signing of Magna Carta. 
Anthony St Leger
What caught our eye most of all though was the rather unusual grave of Anthony St Leger (d 1539), a warrior dressed in armour from the Wars of the Roses, said to be the only wooden effigy in any church in Sussex.  It certainly provoked a good deal of fascination from my oldest daughter, currently studying The Tudors at school.  It felt like a stroke of genius taking her to see it, but in truth it was no more than a lucky find since I had no idea of its existence!
Railway Carriage Annexe
Almost opposite the church was a slice of history from a different vintage in the shape of an old railway carriage now being used as a home.  Apparently this relic of Victorian railwayana was put here as long ago as 1906.
Pumpkin Art
Further up the village the pumpkin display didn’t disappoint – in fact it was the largest sales area of pumpkins I have seen in this country.  The artwork depicted a Cinderella carriage made out of pumpkins, which looked rather splendid.  We resisted the temptation of tucking some pumpkins under our arms, knowing that we had some distance to travel.
Take Your Pick
On the way out of the village we passed Slindon College.  This large building, resplendent with intricate Tudor style chimneys, was once one of the Archbishop of Canterbury's residences.  I was rather amused to find out one of the stories about the house.  In 1330 Thomas de Natindon, who was a legal representative of the Pope, was sent to Slindon to serve a writ on the archbishop. His party were not well received by the archbishop's servants who stripped and bound them, then threw cold water over them, apparently with the archbishop's consent. Natindon escaped and was pursued over the hills to Petworth where he was caught and held in prison for three days.
Tudor Chineys
We pushed on out of the village up towards Nore Folly.  As we did so it became clear that our nice sunny day was about to be invaded by some sharp rain showers as the sky ahead was getting increasingly dark.  We hurried the girls along, not wanting to get caught out in the open.  We got to the top of the hill at Nore Folly just as the first raindrops began to fall.  We crouched down under a big yew tree behind the folly and despite the heavy rain sweeping across the countryside we managed to stay dry, which was something of a miracle!
Approaching Rain
When the rain had passed after a few minutes we clambered out from underneath the tree and took a better look at Nore Folly.  This is a true folly, for although at first glance it resembles the ruin of a castle gate, it is soon obvious that it has no use at all and could never have done so.  I am not even sure when it was built, although it is estimated to have been put there between 1749 and 1786 by the Newburgh family, who owned the estate at that time.  
Rain Showers
What is not in doubt though is the view across towards Selsey Bill and the coastal plain of this part of West Sussex, which is amazing.  Somehow the rain clouds and unsettled conditions made it even more dramatic and landmarks such as Chichester Cathedral, the Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth, Butlins at Bognor and the Isle of Wight could all clearly be seen from the viewpoint.  We lingered for a short while before disappearing into the woods behind the folly. The children pushed on ahead to look for fungi on the forest floor.  Being beech woodland they got to find some very different species than on our walk around Midhurst a couple of weeks earlier.  Sadly for me though the camera battery died here and the spare I thought I had was also dead so this is where picture taking ended for the afternoon.  However, it was almost as if the weather knew this was the case for within a few minutes the cloud came over and for the rest of the afternoon it was rather grey and drab.  Any pictures I would have got would have been fairly poor anyway so I didn’t feel too disappointed.
Nore Folley
Our route took us on a loop through the woods and across the fields of the dip slope of the Downs to the north of the village.  At times the going was pretty difficult through the mud and storm damage of the St Jude storm that had swept through here a few days earlier.  Generally though it was a delight to wander through the beech woodlands and through hedgerows sporting the old man’s beard of wild clematis. 
View Back to Slindon College
Eventually we came to the track that would lead us back down into the village of Slindon.  This looked like an important trackway of years gone by and the view back to Bignor Hill looked most inviting, even on what was now an overcast afternoon.  I made a mental note that it could be a future expedition.
Nore Folly View East
Our route back into Slindon took us along a ridge that gave us a great view of the whole of the route completed, including a distant view to Nore Folly and the Tudor chimneys of Slindon College.  It made for a lovely visual summary of our route, especially to show our children what they had achieved in a relatively short time.  It wasn’t long after that we found the car once again and got our very muddy boots off!  We headed home for a well deserved Sunday dinner after our lungfuls of fresh air.

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