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, 7 April 2013

"When that I was but a little tiny boy.......", wrote the Bard, but this little tale really happened!

It just so happens that I was out walking in the countryside with some hounds, a few weeks ago, and I got chatting to George Judd. The conversation turned to Sussex and, inevitably, Belloc. This was a most fortuitous encounter, but I will allow George to explain further:

"When that I was but a little tiny boy.......", wrote the Bard, but this little tale really happened! 

I was born in 1948 at a farmhouse a mile away from Kingsland. My parents were good friends of HB, whose former secretary before the war, incidentally, was my Mother's elder sister, and we all kept up the friendship with Rex and Eleanor Jebb, his daughter and son-in-law. We moved away on my arrival, (being the third child the house became too small!) and acquired an early Georgian manor house near Salisbury, in the area where my Father's family lived as far back as the early C15th to the present day.

When I was about 2 or 3, my Mother and I went to re-visit Shipley. I recall almost nothing of the visit. But I was permitted to wander about the house alone, and found myself at one end of a very long passage. My sojourn there lasted about 5 seconds, because I soon saw an apparition at the far end of the passage in the shape of a very old man with a large white beard. But that was no apparition, but HB in the flesh. Needless to say, I was terrified, and fled immediately into my Mother's arms. My fears were assuaged, of course, but the memory has never left me. Those of you who read this, (anyone?), if you know Kingsland, will probably realise that the very long passage in question is in fact only about 2 yards long! Such are child-hood memories distorted!

The word "celebrity" in recent years, has been grossly devalued. The only real celebrity I have been in contact with professionally is a Nobel prize winner! I think HB ranks at that level, far far above those who can kick a ball with great accuracy or sing a popular song. I regularly quote his Cautionary Verses to my clients and others, and HB's inscribed copy to my parents is a great treasure.

George Judd

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