exterior-of-marlipins-museum

 

By  Wendy Hughes

When the sun shines, it’s surprising how spirits can be lifted and this week certainly lifted of the spirits and continued throughout the week.

As an experiment, and with some trepidation, our local Sea Scribes writers’ group hosted a Music and Words charity evening in aid of Parkinson’s UK Society.  The event was held at St Botoph’s Church Hall in Manor Road, Worthing with Julie Round, Sea Scribe and well known author acting as compere for the evening.  Julie said, ‘this was a first-off for us, and we had no idea how it would be received, but we needn’t have worried, it turned out to be a resounding successful and enjoyable evening.  A number of popular local folk singers entertained a nearly full hall with songs ranging from musicals, folk songs to hits from the 60s interspersed with monologues, short stories and poems written by members of Sea Scribes. During an interval tea and coffee was served and raffle tickets sold, with prizes including a variety of books written by the authors as well as a bottle of wine and other items.  The evening concluded with sing-along and over £200 was raised for a worthwhile cause.

Two of the Folk singers

On Monday I met up with two dear friends for lunch, and as two of us come from Rustington and one from Brighton we decided that Shoreham was a good half way point for all.  As we are all writers we decided that the Ropetackle Arts Centre would be an ideal venue, which has wheelchair and accessible toilets and an excellent café.  There is also a variety of books for sale, always treat for any writer as well as well stacked shelves of leaflets on things to do. After a most enjoyable lunch and with sore throats of talking too much we walked along the street to have a look at the Marlipins Museum, a building that has always intrigued me and it seems perfect to be that the oldest secular building in Britain has ended up as a Museum.  A quick look inside will reveal the town’s maritime and local history from prehistoric to medieval times.  This grade II listed building does not look too conspicuous among its more modern counterparts which have sat on the same site, or at least the northern wall has since 1167 or 1197. The building is distinctive by its It Caen stone clad chess-board pattern on its frontal façade which is thought to have been added in the late 13th century. The origins and its intended purpose is an intriguing mystery, but theories range from it being a storehouse for wool and hides to a hospital and the remains of the Carmelite Priory to even a meeting-house for the Knight Temple. It has even been suggested that it was built for ecclesiastical purposes, but no real evidence for this has been found. Like its chequered exterior it seems to have had an eventful past and a look at the deeds for the building which survive from 1347 does not give us a conclusive answer  Here they describe it as an Oat Market; later belonging to the Prior of Lewis and became known as ‘his cellar.’  In 1346 it was sold and was described as a stone corner tenement, but it wasn’t until 1703 that the spelling of Marlipins is first recorded.

Music & Words Picture

The name Marlipins is also puzzling and is thought to have been derived from a 14th century board game, correctly known as ‘merels’, a game played between two players each having a set number of pins, pegs, discs or pebbles. The word ‘merel’ is derived from the word in Old French meaning a token, coin or counter. Local legend tells us that this was a Saxon word for tax, although there is no evidence of this, or that the pins referred to a pin of ale, a pin being equal to half a firkin (4.5 imperial gallons or 20 litres), and remembered today in the name polypins.

Ropetackle

The following day saw me again gadding around to another friend for coffee and after putting the world in order I caught the bus back to Rustington where my husband picked me up.

 

Yesterday was yet another day out for ‘this lady who lunches,’ meeting up with a couple from Surrey where we once live.  Over a most enjoyable lunch at the Castle at Ottershaw we caught up on news, exchanged a bag of books, something we have done for a while before meandering home.

The author reading her monologue

And today…Well I think I have better sit at my desk and catch up with a mountain of work that has accumulated!   Perhaps next week will be a more mundane week!

The Castle Ottershaw