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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Thursday, 3 November 2011

The AA promotes Hilaire Belloc

Click here for a map of the walk in and around Belloc's old home...

"It has been said that Hilaire Belloc is to Sussex what Wordsworth is to the Lake District. He was certainly passionate about the county and this delightful walk suggests more than a hint of the great man's spirit.

Belloc was a distinguished man of letters - a poet, writer, historian and politician in his time - and exploring the picturesque countryside surrounding his Shipley home, savouring the beauty of the landscape, you really feel that you are following in his illustrious footsteps.

He was born in France in 1870, to an English mother and a French father. After spending much of his childhood at Slindon near Arundel, Belloc served in the French artillery. He then attended Oxford University where he was an outstanding Union debater, much interested in history, politics and journalism. He forged friendships with some of the leading figures of the day and made, too, some notable enemies including Herbert Asquith, Lloyd George and HG Wells.

Belloc is best remembered as a writer of more than 100 works. Many were inspired by his extensive travels - some of them describing extraordinary feats of endurance. He crossed the United States of America on foot to propose to a Californian girl that he had fallen in love with when he was 19 years old.

In later life he walked through France, over the Alps and down to Rome in an effort to meet the Pope. He failed due to an administrative mix-up but recorded the journey in a book The Path to Rome. In 1902 he made another marathon journey walking from Robertsbridge in the east of Sussex to Harting in the west - a distance of some 90 miles (145.8km), and wrote the classic tale, The Four Men - a reference to himself and three fictional characters who accompany him on the journey. It is written with the passion of a man who fears that what he most loves in the world may soon fade and die.

Belloc bought King's Land in Shipley in 1906 and remained there until his death in 1953. The house was a shop when he bought it and he paid for it the princely sum of £900. The walk crosses peaceful parkland to reach the village of West Grinstead (not to be confused with the much larger East Grinstead) and then crosses the River Adur to reach another settlement, Dial Post. From here it's a pleasant country walk back to Shipley, passing Belloc's charming old windmill, which he purchased in 1906, along the way."

From the AA web site: http://www.theaa.com/walks/hilaire-bellocs-shipley-421106#directions

Knepp Castle

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