Bodiam Castle.

We spent Bank Holiday Monday at Bodiam Castle on the Kent/ Sussex border. It was built by Sir Edward Dallingridge c. 1385.

Sir Edward was born into the minor gentry c. 1346. Lady Elizabeth, sir Edwards wife, was a key figure in the castle’s history. She was heiress to the land of Bodiam and considerably wealthy to boot! Upon marriage Sir Edward was entitled to her land and money, which helped him to build the castle. A castle the size of Bodiam was large enough to house up to eighty servants.

On a natural note the castle plays host to bats, particularly the largest Daubenton maternity roost in England as well as well as a maternity roost of Natterer’s bats.

The castle stands alongside the River Rother and there is a beautiful walk following the river. The Tenterden to Bodiam railway also runs alongside the Castle stretch. There is nothing nicer than walking alongside the river with the castle on one side and the steam train passing by on the other. East Sussex is diverse and beautiful.

The Mill-Pond by Edward Thomas

The Mill pond, Batemans, Burwash

THE sun blazed while the thunder yet 
Added a boom: 
A wagtail flickered bright over 
The mill-pond’s gloom:

Less than the cooing in the alder 
Isles of the pool 
Sounded the thunder through that plunge 
Of waters cool.

Scared starlings on the aspen tip 
Past the black mill 
Outchattered the stream and the next roar 
Far on the hill.

As my feet dangling teased the foam 
That slid below 
A girl came out. “Take care!” she said— 
Ages ago.

She startled me, standing quite close 
Dressed all in white: 
Ages ago I was angry till 
She passed from sight.

Then the storm burst, and as I crouched 
To shelter, how 
Beautiful and kind, too, she seemed, 
As she does now!

Peak District National Park and the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Spent a couple of days tramping around the Peak District National Park, specifically Dovedale, a valley in the Peak District- owned by the National Trust. The valley was cut by the River Dove and runs for just over 3 miles between Milldale in the north and a wooded ravine near Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill in the south.

The beautiful countryside got me thinking about literature connections to the area- any great poets or writers. There was no one that wrote particularly about the area, however a few very famous writers had passed through, lived or stayed in the area:

Daniel Defoe (1661 – 1731)- passed through.

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)- visited.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778)- visited.

Charlotte Bronte (1816 – 1855)- visited, (around the time she was writing Jane Eyre).

D.H.Lawrence (1885 – 1930)- lived.

George Eliot (1819 – 1880)- visited.

So although the area hasn’t produced a Wordsworth or Coleridge, it still has some literary history.

W.G.Grace and Sheffield Park.

W.G. Grace, English amateur cricketer who established and popularised the game of cricket . Born: 18 July 1848,Died: 23 October 1915. Test debut (cap 24): 6 September 1880 v Australia.

He was important in the development of the sport and widely believed to be one of its greatest players.

He was good friends with Lord Sheffield of Sheffield Park, now a National Trust property. He played for the Lord Sheffield XI many times home and away.

If you visit the property today you can see the cricket pitch and the foundations of the original players pavilion and the ladies pavilion. Also the original rollers that rolled the pitch and the oak tree that Grace hit ‘full toss’ when hitting a ‘six’ in July 1883.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden in

The Mill-Pond by Edward Thomas

The First World War was already in its second year when Edward Thomas wrote this little piece of Englishness;

THE MILL-POND

Edward Thomas, ‘The Mill-Pond’

The sun blazed while the thunder yet
Added a boom:
A wagtail flickered bright over
The mill-pond’s gloom:

Less than the cooing in the alder
Isles of the pool
Sounded the thunder through that plunge
Of waters cool.

Scared starlings on the aspen tip
Past the black mill
Outchattered the stream and the next roar
Far on the hill.

As my feet dangling teased the foam
That slid below
A girl came out. ‘Take care!’ she said—
Ages ago.

She startled me, standing quite close
Dressed all in white:
Ages ago I was angry till
She passed from sight.

Then the storm burst, and as I crouched
To shelter, how
Beautiful and kind, too, she seemed,
As she does now!

(1917)

Mill Pond. Batemans Burwash.
Mill Pond. Batemans Burwash.

~

English Country Garden.

Chartwell Kent

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart’s ease and flox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentain, lupine and tall hollihocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden…

English Country Garden Song by Jimmie Rodgers

Clementine and Winston Churchill

Winston and Clementine Churchill. Bronze statue in the gardens of their home Chartwell, Kent.

By Winston Churchill’s own admission, his wife Clementine was a driving force in his becoming British Prime Minister and helping him steer the country through the second world war.

The above statue of The Churchills can be found in the gardens of Chartwell, their home for over forty years from September 1922 until shortly before his death in 1965.

I love this statue and like to imagine them both taking a quiet moment beside the lakes in the grounds of Chartwell, perhaps discussing the way forward for the country. ‘Behind every great man…’

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell

H

Batemans and Rudyard Kipling.

“We had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself]said ‘That’s her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!’. We entered and felt her Spirit – her Feng Shui – to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the ‘new’ end of her was three hundred years old…”

Rudyard Kipling on discovering Batemans, his future home.

Rudyard Kipling’s Jacobean Batemans.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans/features/house-at-batemans