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, 3 February 2015

A bust of Belloc...

Sculptor Jon Edgar recently investigated an extant bust of Belloc, with a view to seeing whether there was ‘room’ for a posthumous bust or sculpture which tried to convey the emotive power obvious in some of the photographic imagery of the writer. At present we have precious little in the public domain, other than the decorative addition to the Horsham sundial. Jon's research (trawling through the archives of the Royal Academy and the National Portrait Gallery) also revealed a bust of Madame Belloc (the writer and feminist Bessie Parkes) and that the sculptor of both works was important in her own right. More here.

Jon Edgar’s Slindon Journal is regularly ploughing up old Belloc material for new audiences. In January, he remembered Eleanor Jebb’s testimony to her father Hilaire Belloc. She recollects how he made them fresh ash whistles whilst at Courtfield Farm. This is something he had learnt as a boy in Slindon:

"With some secret grasp he worked off the young rind from spring saplings some 3/4 inch thick and 6-8 inches long, having shaped the mouthpiece first at the wider end and cut out the notches for the notes at intervals of about 1/2 inch. This took a long time to execute, so great was our impatience to start making piercing and intolerable noises! I wonder if there is any man or boy left in Sussex who can still make these local whistles in season?"

That was written in 1956 so we can forgive gender discrimination. Jon offers a small prize for the first whistle received. Please pass this on to anyone you think might be a candidate and contact him through the Sculptor’s Journal.

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