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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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A statue for Belloc?

The Rev Nick Flint, author of Walking Backwards With Belloc, writes:

''There has been much debate in the local Horsham paper about a commemorative fountain which has been beset with problems and become too expensive to maintain. To the question what should replace it I have written to the paper, slightly tongue in cheek, with the suggestion of a statue of Belloc. The more I think about it however, the more I think the idea has some merit.

I wonder if the Bellocians who support the blog might think there is mileage in putting this forward as a ‘concrete’ suggestion!?''

I would encourage readers of this Blog to contact Jonathan Chowen (who is the Cabinet Member for Arts, Heritage and Leisure on the Council) with the aforementioned purpose in mind:

E-mail: Jonathan.Chowen@horsham.gov.uk

I feel that it would also be beneficial to write to West Sussex Council about the matter as well:

The Chairman of the Council is Mrs Amanda Jupp:

Email: amanda.jupp@westsussex.gov.uk

If you are looking for some inspiration I have reproduced Nick's newspaper letter, in full, for your delectation:

''I have been following the debate about the future of the Shelley Fountain with interest and would like to contribute a suggestion. Having researched the subject of Hilaire Belloc for a book which I wrote last year, it seems to me that a statue of this Sussex writer, poet and eccentric would be the perfect answer to the current quandary as to what should dominate the site at the end of West Street. With due respect to Shelley of Warnham to the west and no offence to the Colgate dragon from east of the town, I suggest we cast our eyes south for inspiration. Belloc had respect for local tradition, and was famous for bribing railway station announcers to pronounce the name of the town Horse Ham. But, praying forgiveness of that accomplished versifier and with apologies to readers of the County Times, it seems apt to make my case in rhyme: 

The cost of honouring poet Percy
Year on year is getting worse, see?
Most agree this washed up feature
Has become s sorry creature.

Oh Dear! Horsham's collective frown
Cries for better in the town;
Something at home in the Tate?
Daleks screaming exterminate?

Maybe that's too avant garde
But, there is another bard
Who bestrode our local history
It's obvious! No need for mystery.

Hilaire Belloc of Kingsland
On that plinth should proudly stand -
Writer of Cautionary Tales,
Quaffer of fine Sussex ales

Let's commemorate 'Old Thunder',
Leave behind the Shelley blunder
To get the project off the ground
I'll be the first to pledge a pound!''

Nick Flint

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