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 16 November 2022

Historian Chris Hare will offer a talk 'Hilaire Belloc, The Man, His Writings and His Legacy' at the Coronation Hall, Reynolds Lane, Slindon, BN18 0QZ on Saturday, November 19 at 2pm.

Historian Chris Hare will offer a talk 'Hilaire Belloc, The Man, His Writings and His Legacy' at the Coronation Hall, Reynolds Lane, Slindon, BN18 0QZ on Saturday, November 19 at 2pm.
Leigh Lawson, vice-chairman West Sussex Archives Society, said: “Hilaire Belloc spent his boyhood in Slindon and the last 48 years of his life in Shipley. His Sussex connections are very strong as was his enduring love for the county. 

“Chris is a popular local historian and singer of folk songs. He also sings with Littlehampton- based shantymen, The Duck Pond Sailors. Throughout 2018-19 Chris, assisted by Emily Longhurst, led a Heritage Lottery Funded project Belloc, Broadwood and Beyond, a series of workshops which included learning some of the songs written by Hilaire Belloc and which culminated in a concert in Rusper Church. Chris will be reading some of Belloc’s poems and singing at least a couple of his songs during the talk.
“The talk has been arranged by West Sussex Archives Society, which supports the work of West Sussex Record Office. Non-members are welcome to attend the talk, which costs £6 and includes tea or coffee and biscuits. Email inquiries to contact@wsas.co.uk.”

Tuesday 16 August 2022

The Duck Pond Sailors in Slindon...

On Thursday 16th June 2022 – The Duck Pond Sailors gave a ‘moving concert’ around the little streets and woodlands of Slindon. In this video, they sing the ‘Sussex Song’, written by Chris Hare, as a sort of national anthem for the county, including all it’s great moments in history and folklore. The other song is G.K.Chesterton’s poem ‘The Rolling English Road’ put to the tune of ‘The Farmer’s Boy.’ Chesterton was a lifelong friend of Belloc, and the two men frequently met for walks in the South Downs. Belloc spent his boyhood in Slindon and wrote many essays about the village and its hinterland.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

An interesting find at a flea market in Chicago...

Matthew Ennis contacted me from America with some interesting information. He has come into the possession of some very interesting hand written poems accompanied by intriguing drawings. This is his story:

'I got them at a flea market in the Chicago area that were amongst a bunch of other ephemera from the very early 1900s. I saw the elephant poem and connected it to Belloc, so I thought it may be his work since it's very professionally done and there's a whole book of the same, 24 pages and the fun simple poems are extraordinary.'

Now the opinion of the Chairman is that the drawings are probably by Basil Blackwood. He writes:

'I still don’t feel able to say definitely HB. Still not found any examples of his writing in capitals. Some of the verses seem almost too whimsical/sentimental..I’m almost tempted to say (given that the drawings seem to be by Basil Blackwood) that they might have been composed by Elodie. At least some of them inspired by her. Not that I am conscious of her writing *anything* (other than letters to HB).'

Mike did go on to say that the drawings were definitely by Basil Blackwood. 

Basil Temple Blackwood was the third son and fifth child of the first Marquess of Duffering and Ava (and Governor General of Canada). He was born in Clandeboye, Ireland.Which I suppose, given his background, made him Anglo-Irish. Strangely enough, he later went on to become Private secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1916 (a poignant year in Irish history). Before this, he went up to Balliol College - Oxford.This was Belloc's college as well. Whilst at Oxford, he became friends with Belloc.

In 1896, Belloc approached Blackwood to illustrate his book of humorous children's verse, The Bad Child's Book Of Beasts. The book was an immediate success. Blackwood went on to illustrate several more of Belloc's books, including: The Modern Traveller (1898), A Moral Alphabet (1899), More Peers (1900), Cautionary Tales for Children (1907) and More Beasts for Worse Children (1910).

Blackwood died in the trenches in 1917. 

The manuscript is available for purchase. However, we cannot say for certain who wrote the poems (except for the Elephant which is definitely by Belloc) or who is responsible for the illustrations. 

Thursday 31 March 2022

This year we are celebrating Sussex Day with walk & song in the village of Slindon with South Downs historian Chris Hare...


About this event: Thu, 16 June 2022 – 7:00pm – 8:30pm

What better way to spend a summer's evening than walking around a beautiful South Downs village listening to old English sea shanties and folk songs?

This year the Friends of the South Downs are celebrating Sussex Day in style, with a walk around the historic village of Slindon, in the company of South Downs historian, Chris Hare, and the ever popular Duck Pond Sailors. You will hear all about one thousand years of downland and village history and learn about the life and work of Slindon's most famous son - Hilaire Belloc. Belloc spent his boyhood in Slindon in the 1870s and 80s, but he also returned briefly to live in Slindon with his wife Elodie and their children from 1904 - 1905. His vivid essays and moving poetry will be referred to by Chris during the walk.

The Duck Pond Sailors are renowned for 'putting some welly' into their singing and they will include many songs appropriate to the time of year and the setting. They will even be singing one of their songs by a duck pond!

Get your complimentary CD

To help celebrate Sussex Day, the Friends of the South Downs will be giving a copy of the CD and booklet 'South Coast Songs and Shanties' to everyone who attends the walk (usual price £6.50). This is a one-off promotion and is available only for this event. CDs cannot be posted to those who register and don't attend.

A fundraiser for two good causes.

The money raised from this event will be shared between the Friends of the South Downs and Olly's Future, a suicide-prevention charity.

A Gallery of Slindon photographs

During the walk, Chris will be talking about all the buildings and places seen in these photographs, some of which have the strangest and most unexpected explanations. There will even be a ghost story!

Public transport

No buses run to Slindon at this time. Barnham is the nearest mainline railway station (a distance of 3.5 miles). There is a taxi rank at Barnham Station. The journey takes about ten minutes.

Book now on Eventbrite