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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Wednesday 26 February 2014

This Saturday's Sussex event...

The Amberley Wildbrooks

If you would like to attend this Saturday's talk, walk and sing-along in Amberley, Sussex please do e-mail the organisers at:


It promises to be a splendid day and the Amberley Wildbrooks are very beautiful at the moment. 

WHEN I am living in the Midlands 
That are sodden and unkind, 
I light my lamp in the evening: 
My work is left behind; 
And the great hills of the South Country 
Come back into my mind. 

The great hills of the South Country 
They stand along the sea; 
And it's there walking in the high woods 
That I could wish to be, 
And the men that were boys when I was a boy 
Walking along with me. 

The men that live in North England 
I saw them for a day: 
Their hearts are set upon the waste fells, 
Their skies are fast and grey; 
From their castle-walls a man may see 
The mountains far away. 

The men that live in West England 
They see the Severn strong, 
A-rolling on rough water brown 
Light aspen leaves along. 
They have the secret of the Rocks, 
And the oldest kind of song. 

But the men that live in the South Country 
Are the kindest and most wise, 
They get their laughter from the loud surf, 
And the faith in their happy eyes 
Comes surely from our Sister the Spring 
When over the sea she flies; 
The violets suddenly bloom at her feet, 
She blesses us with surprise. 

I never get between the pines 
But I smell the Sussex air; 
Nor I never come on a belt of sand 
But my home is there. 
And along the sky the line of the Downs 
So noble and so bare. 

A lost thing could I never find, 
Nor a broken thing mend: 
And I fear I shall be all alone 
When I get towards the end. 
Who will there be to comfort me 
Or who will be my friend? 

I will gather and carefully make my friends 
Of the men of the Sussex Weald; 
They watch the stars from silent folds, 
They stiffly plough the field. 
By them and the God of the South Country 
My poor soul shall be healed. 

If I ever become a rich man, 
Or if ever I grow to be old, 
I will build a house with deep thatch 
To shelter me from the cold, 
And there shall the Sussex songs be sung 
And the story of Sussex told. 

I will hold my house in the high wood 
Within a walk of the sea, 
And the men that were boys when I was a boy 
Shall sit and drink with me.

The South Country by Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday 18 February 2014

They must have known we were coming...

I'm delighted to announce that The Black Horse pub has been re-opened just in time for the forthcoming Belloc Society event in Amberley. It is a fine, and old, establishment which was (and is once again) the social hub of the village.

The listed building has, interestingly enough, been bought by media mogul Paul Smith who is behind the TV show 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'. The full story can be found here. I wish Mr Smith every success, with the venture, which seems to be motivated by a desire to make a contribution to the rural life of Sussex as much as anything else.

I'm sure that we will also have time to visit the Bridge Inn which features in the The Four Men:

"We came at last past the great chalk pit to the railway, and to the Bridge Inn which lies just on this side of the crossing of the Arun. When we had all four come into Mr. Duke’s parlour at the Bridge Inn, and ordered beer and had begun to dry ourselves at the fire, the Sailor said: ’Come, Grizzlebeard, we promised to tell the stories of our first loves when we came to Arun; and as you are much the oldest of us do you begin’".

Monday 10 February 2014

The annual Belloc Society talk in Sussex...

Chris speaking at The George last year
I’m very pleased to announce that Chris Hare will be giving another talk at The George and Dragon, in Amberley, on March the 1st. Chris is, amongst many other things, a local historian and folk singer. Indeed, he is at the forefront of the revival in Sussex folk music. In this respect he perpetuates the worthy musical tradition which Bob Copper inherited and passed on. 

Chris will be examining, and reading, Belloc’s Sussex poems. It is said, that Belloc was to Sussex what Wordsworth was to the Lake District. The poetic cord between the County and Belloc will be examined in some detail.

Last year a good time was had by all and I'm sure this year will be just as convivial. 



There will also be a mini-bus departing from Clapham in London. Seats will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. If you would like to book a seat, please e-mail be at the address listed above.

The talk will begin at 4.30 PM but it will be preceded by lunch and folk singing between 1.00 and 2.30. There will also be a bracing walk onto the downs after lunch (bring your waders!). Thereafter, we return to the pub for the talk.

The George and Dragon is a splendid old pub which dates back to the Middle Ages. We will have exclusive use of the function room.The nearest station is Amberley and although one could walk (ten minutes) the road is busy and so a taxi would be preferable (over the bridge in the opposite direction to the village):

Castle Cars: 01903 884444
Cathedral Cars: 01903 889688
MJ Cars: 01903 745414/01798 874321 (6 seater)

If you wish to have lunch at The George you must phone ( 01798831559), or e-mail, the pub to advise them of this. Otherwise you will be left feeling rather peckish: thegeorgeanddragonhoughton@hotmail.co.uk

Now for some more background on the speaker:

Chris Hare was born locally in 1962. Since 1987 Chris has been writing on local history and local interest topics. He is a graduate of the University of Brighton and has an MA from the University of Sussex. He has written nine books and some two hundred articles on historical and Sussex topics.