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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

A Sussex Postscript: Rottingdean and St Michael and All Angels, Berwick

Back in Sussex to fetch home my son, I stopped off in Rottingdean again, determined to get to the bottom of Edward and Georgiana Burne Jones's missed memorial.

First, though, I sought out their house, a task which isn't as straightforward as it seems. The blue plaque is on a property called 'Prospect Cottage', currently covered with scaffolding ... 

... but I'd read they lived at North End House, which is two doors up. 

It turns out Ned first bought Prospect Cottage and the middle house, Aubrey Cottage, as a holiday home, and knocked them through, before later buying North End House and making
one home of them all. Blimey. 

The novelist Angela Thirkell stayed there as their granddaughter, and later, after Georgie's death, it was bought by Enid Bagnold, of 'National Velvet' fame.  

I wandered through Kipling Gardens up to The Elms, where his eminence lived.  

The Elms

Kipling, and his cousin, Stanley Baldwin, who also has a connection with the village, were both nephews of Georgie. (Clearly there was no escaping The Family, not even on holiday.)

Up at the Church, I found the memorial to Ned and Georgie with no problem at all, on the external wall of the south aisle. 

But where are they buried? 

Fiona McCarthy, in her biography, states that Ned's ashes were scattered in a grave lined with moss and roses in the corner of the churchyard closest to their house. Somewhere near here, perhaps?  

Then there's the wooden memorial to Angela Thirkell. I was sure her name would be on the back of this one ...
... but it's someone called Mary's. I couldn't read the rest of the inscription. 

It had come on to rain again ... 

looking towards the windmill

... so I decided not to search for Angela's grave any more. Nor Enid Bagnold's. Nor Gary Moore's, for that matter. Instead, I popped inside the church again ... 

... and found another tucked-away and awkward to photograph window I'd missed last week: George and the Dragon, in a design by J H Dearle for Morris & Co. 

I also photographed the smaller lights below the three archangels that hadn't come out so well on my previous visit.

Gabriel ...

...Michael ...

... and Raphael.
Then we headed west for a mini reprise of our visit to Charleston, at St Michael and All Angels in Berwick.  

It's a 12th century church, built on what looks to be a roughly circular, pre-Christian sacred site, next to a round barrow (or possibly a motte). 

Inside it has an 11th century Saxon font ...

... and a sculpture called 'The Family' by Christopher Furner that is reminiscent of work of Eric Gill ... 

... and some good glass by J Powell and Sons ...

... plus some clear glass installed following war damage ...

... which serves to illuminate (a little) the wonderful 1940s wall-paintings by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell. 

Nope, going to have to put the lights on after all.

The original pupit was vandalised in 1962, after Vanessa's death, and repainted by Duncan Grant to a design by Angelica Garnett, Vanessa's daughter.

As usual, there are far better photos than mine on line.

All the while we were in the Church there was a screaming outside which sounded very much like swifts. Upon investigation, it seemed to be coming from the tower and I wondered if it was a brood of late, almost-ready-to-fledge nestlings.  

I really hadn't expected to hear that sound again this summer and was thrilled.

Back home I discovered that the Church was recently involved in a swift conservation project with local schoolchildren, so it seems a reasonable guess.

Meanwhile, it was getting autumnal, and time for the long drive home. 

I'm getting to really like Sussex and its curiosities. I'll be back soon. 

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