Blundering Through Bogs to Buxted
When Neighbour Helen suggested that we go for an afternoon walk, it sounded like a good idea.
As the whole world knows, (thanks to the Brits’ traditional obsession with our weather, Ignoring any cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other minor inconveniences that may be suffered by the rest of the universe,) we’ve had one of the worse wet winters since records began.
So, having been cooped up indoors for several months, (except for a couple of brave ventures to the shops,) I agreed!
The sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud to be seen in the sky (or anywhere else that clouds can be seen!) so I pulled on my hardly-worn wellies and opened the door.
Oh joy! I could actually feel the sun’s rays penetrating all the layers of clothing that I was wearing; in fact, I had to remove my coat!
Down the road we passed the Grade II listed Hempstead Mill. It was built by Edward Egles for cotton-wick spinning.
He died in 1838, aged 77.
We headed for Buxted Park, squelching across the soaking grass. Every step was hard work as I had to lift my feet out of the cloying mud. I was a bit nervous at first, with visions of bogs and quicksand, and imagining myself sinking up to my waist! So progress was slow, but being ladies, we chatted a lot as we trekked along.
We crossed a wooden bridge over the river and went through a wooden kissing gate.
What do you mean, What’s a kissing gate?
Alright, I’ll tell you. This is what Wikipedia says about it:
A kissing gate is a type of gate which allows people to pass through, but not livestock.
The normal construction is a half-round, rectangular, trapezoidal or V-shaped enclosure with a hinged gate trapped between its arms. When the gate is parked at either side of the enclosure, there is no gap to pass through. However, the gate can be pushed to give access to the small enclosure, then moved in the opposite direction to close the first opening and allow exit from the enclosure to the other side. The enclosure may be made large enough to accommodate pushchairs and wheelchairs. The gate itself is usually self-closing, to the side away from the land where animals are kept. The self-closing may be by hinge geometry but sometimes by a spring or weight.
This design of gate does not usually allow bicycles to be taken through, and they must be lifted over the fence. Alternatively they (or horses) may pass instead through an adjacent conventional gate, or an additional latch may allow the kissing gate itself to open fully for this purpose.
The etymology of the name is that the gate merely “kisses” (touches) the
enclosure either side, rather than needing to be securely latched.
On the other side of the gate, it sloped upwards a bit, but enough to make the going difficult as we were sliding about in the mud, so we tightly gripped the fence beside us.
At the top, we had to cross an open field.
Although we were in the sun, the wind was bitter, so back on went my coat!
We passed several couples walking their dogs. I love dogs, but I’m glad that I didn’t have to take one for walkies in the weather that we’ve had lately!
I could see the church on the other side of the field, and we had to squeeze through another kissing gate to get to it.
St Margaret the Queen was built in 1250 and named after St Margaret of Scotland.
It’s Grade 1 listed, and original except for the tower.
There are eight bells in the tower, rung regularly.
St George’s Chapel is dedicated to the commemoration of the dead in two World Wars, including Fergus Bowes-Lyon, a brother of the Queen Mother.
He married there in 1914 and the Queen Mother was a bridesmaid.
12 months later, he died in the war.
In the grounds is a huge yew tree, which is over 2,000 years old; older than Christ! Some of the massive branches are propped up to support their weight.
There’s a certificate of authentication behind the entrance door, and it’s mentioned on www.ancient-yew.com
Does everything have a website?!
On the East side of the graveyard is the grave of Christopher Wordsworth, the Rector from 1820-1846. He was the youngest brother of the poet William Wordsworth.
Also there is the grave of the author Winston Graham. He lived in Buxted until 2003, and wrote over 40 novels, including the Poldark series.
Through the churchyard, we turned right. Buxted Park house was in front of us.
When the Earl of Liverpool was at Buxted Place he wished to remove the village elsewhere, so as to enlarge the park and render it more secluded. He accordingly offered to build new houses for the inhabitants anywhere in the parish they wished, if they would move, but the people refused, and stayed where they were. Lord Liverpool then declined to do any repairs to the property, and in course of time the houses fell into decay and became uninhabitable. The tenants had to move then, and the remains of the old village were swept away entirely. This was about 1836. Tradition has it that the Earl wished to remove the church as well, but public opinion was too strong for that vandalism, and the church [St Margaret’s] stands to-day in its splendid isolation.
The Earl of Liverpool was the Prime Minister. He bought Buxted Park in the early 19th Century.
Buxted village is now a mile away from Buxted Park.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed at Buxted Place about 1845, when the Earl of Liverpool lived there.
It really is a beautiful house, with views over the park from every window.
Now it’s a hotel, but the grounds are still used by public.
We walked down the hill with the house on the right, to the lake at the bottom.
There are three lakes, with some huge fish in them. They were obviously used for food for the house.
A natural spring flows over the pathway.
The Park has 312 acres, with fallow deer wandering around.
Beside the lake were some very noisy geese, but they ignored us. It was obvious that we weren’t going to feed them!
Back we dragged ourselves, across another windy field, over another wooden bridge, uphill through the woods again, and finally, home!
As the sun set, I could feel my muscles stiffening up.
I survived till 10pm with difficulty, then I went to bed and slept like a log all night.
It was the best night’s rest I’d had for months!
Buxted, in the Wealden district, is a very old village.
It was named after the Saxon words Bochs stede, meaning Place of the Beeches. It was known as variations of that name for centuries.
In 1248 a dreadful murder took place which must have caused a great outcry in the neighbourhood. “Unknown malefactors came in the night to the house of Aldith of Bokstede, and killed Aldith and her daughter Alice. Gilbert de la Hethe and Simon Alry were accused of the death of the aforesaid Aldith and Alice; and they fled to the Church of St Margaret [to claim Sanctuary] and Gilbert confessed before the coroner and abjured the realm, but Simon was found not guilty.”
The Wealden Iron Industry started there in 1491. And it became famous for cannon making in 1543.
A pathetic incident occurred in 1742. James Atkinson of London was to have married Mary Relfe of Buxted on December 19th, but Mary fell ill a short while before the day and died. Mr. Atkinson, although in good health at the time, took to his bed and, all consolation and medical help failing to rouse him, died of a broken heart exactly one week after his beloved Mary. They were buried side by side in Maresfield churchyard, the burial of James taking place on the day fixed for the wedding.
Extract from MacDermott’s Buxted the Beautiful
George Dan Watson, born in Buxted in 1783, was a farm labourer, who, although quite uneducated and unable to read or write, was gifted with a wonderful memory and extraordinary power of calculation. He could answer the most abstruse question in arithmetic, but never could explain by what method he arrived at his answers. He could state where he had been and whom he had met on any day for 30 years, on what day any date of the month occurred during that time and what was the state of the weather. Watson knew the name of every town, village and hamlet in Sussex, the size of every church and weight of its tenor bell, the number of public-houses as well as the acreage and population of each parish in the county.
To exhibit his strange powers Watson was taken on a tour to the principal towns in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset. He died at Maresfield in July, 1838.
Buxted still has a station, on the Uckfield/London Bridge line. It also has two pubs within walking distance of the station.
It’s amazing what’s right on your doorstep that you don’t know about until you take the time to go out and investigate.
We live in a very interesting country. Walking around and exploring in the fresh air is much better for you than paying to go to an expensive gym, and jumping around in an air-conditioned atmosphere. And it’s good for insomnia too!