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 19 March 2015

Celebration of Northwood Sculpture Project – Friday 20th March 2015...

Venue: Slindon Parish Church, Church Hill, Slindon, Friday 20th March

Dear Singers,

Please be at the church by 18.30 to give plenty of time for us to settle into the choir stalls, remember your surplices! No really, dress optional but anything green or blue would be an extra.

Parking is possible outside but the road is narrow, so I for one am going to the top of the hill, turn left at the junction, and park alongside the Slindon College wall on the left.

We have a loosely timed clear ‘running order’ with cues for the various songs on the night as below.

After an introduction to the evening, perhaps 5-7 minutes in:

• The Life of a Man

Then about 7-10 minutes later after a reading about the circumstances in which Belloc wrote the song:

Ha’nacker Mill

Then just before the interval (to raise the energy before a drink):

• Twanky Dillo
• West Sussex Drinking Song

In the second half...

About 10 minutes in, after a reading:

• Rosebuds in June

To end, again after a reading:

• On Sussex Hills

If you have not volunteered to sing to date and want to come, please email me so that I can identify you on the door.


John C.

Editor’s notes:
1. The time being advertised by the organisers for this event is 7.30 to 9.30pm, further details here.
2. On the spelling of “Halnaker”: various spellings have been used over the years, with the modern-day spelling of course being “Halnaker”. If you search the internet for the lyrics to the song, invariably the spelling used is “Ha’nacker” and I must presume that this is the spelling that Belloc chose to use.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Belloc on Saint Patrick...

''There was once--twenty or thirty years ago--a whole school of dunderheads who wondered whether St. Patrick ever existed, because the mass of legends surrounding his name troubled them. How on earth (one wonders) do such scholars consider their fellow-beings! Have they ever seen a crowd cheering a popular hero, or noticed the expression upon men's faces when they spoke of some friend of striking power recently dead? A great growth of legends around a man is the very best proof you could have not only of his existence but of the fact that he was an origin and a beginning, and that things sprang from his will or his vision. There were some who seemed to think it a kind of favour done to the indestructible body of Irish Catholicism when Mr. Bury wrote his learned Protestant book upon St. Patrick. It was a critical and very careful bit of work, and was deservedly praised; but the favour done us I could not see! It is all to the advantage of non-Catholic history that it should be sane, and that a great Protestant historian should make true history out of a great historical figure was a very good sign. It was a long step back towards common sense compared with the German absurdities which had left their victims doubting almost all the solid foundation of the European story; but as for us Catholics, we had no need to be told it. Not only was there a St. Patrick in history, but there is a St. Patrick on the shores of his eastern sea and throughout all Ireland to-day. It is a presence that stares you in the face, and physically almost haunts you. Let a man sail along the Leinster coast on such a day as renders the Wicklow Mountains clear up-weather behind him, and the Mourne Mountains perhaps in storm, lifted clearly above the sea down the wind. He is taking some such course as that on which St. Patrick sailed, and if he will land from time to time from his little boat at the end of each day's sailing, and hear Mass in the morning before he sails further northward, he will know in what way St. Patrick inhabits the soil which he rendered sacred.''

An extract from Hilaire Belloc's essay: 'Saint Patrick'.

Thursday 12 March 2015

The ‘Secret Shore’ project...

The traditional songs, folklore and history of the coastal region of the South Downs are being brought to life in this exciting project.

The ‘Secret Shore’ project, which has received a grant of £50,600 from HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) along with the £10,000 contribution from the South Downs Society, is now recruiting volunteers over a two year period to learn the folk songs once popular in the harbour and coastal towns of the region. There will also be workshops in which participants can learn about and research the folklore and superstitions that once played such an important role in the lives of everyday people.

‘Secret Shore’ will conduct a survey of modern superstitions in the coastal towns and see how present-day beliefs compare with the ones recorded in Victorian times. Volunteers will also be trained to conduct oral history interviews so that the lives and stories of fisherman and other local people can be recorded for posterity.

The project is focusing its efforts in the towns of Littlehampton, Worthing, and Shoreham, including some of the most socially deprived wards in the South-East.

Half-day workshops on local History and Folklore will be held in Worthing in the spring, followed later in the year with Songs Workshops in Littlehampton and Shoreham.

The ‘Secret Shore’ project is based in offices in Worthing.

For more information about the History and Folklore workshops or the Songs workshops click on the following links:

History and Folklore Workshops

Songs Workshops