Juneathon 2012 Day 20 - On the Sussex Downs
Two years ago my daughter was married in Wilingdon, Eastbourne and for that week we hired a cottage in East Dean. It was lovely, nestling in a fold of the Downs one mile from the coast, and I remember thinking there could be few lovelier spots in all England. So it is little surprise that my wife and I returned, this time to stay for a couple of nights at the Tiger Inn.
However this part of the world not only boasts a fine landscape it is also home territory to Tom Roper, fellow Juneathoner and blogger. It seemed churlish to be so close and not suggest we met. Before being allowed a drink we went for a 3 mile run to combine our Juneathon activities. Note I said we went for a 3 mile run and not that we ran 3 miles, because the latter was definitely not the case. I am still not in good shape and have so far not run this June and the hills are rather steep. I rather held-up Tom by insisting on quite a bit of walking. But that did not seem to get in the way of what was a very amiable occasion.
Tom has already blogged some of the topics of conversation and I don’t want to go over old ground but something more needs to be said about Frank Bridge who is buried in a church we passed. His gravestone is plain, with little indication that he was a significant figure. It just describes him as a musician and perhaps, for him that, is all that need be known but nevertheless there is a pleasing modesty to it. However I wanted to find out more about his connection with Friston. The Cultural Trail has some brief detail but there is also an essay available online that describes the influence of the place on his music:
The Bridges had a close friend in the artist Marjorie Fass, who lived in rural Sussex. They holidayed at Marjorie's Friston cottage, which is on the Downs between Seaford and Eastbourne. The Downs and the sea cast their spell over Bridge and it was decided to move back to Sussex. During the mid-1920s they built a house called 'Friston Field' with a prospect over the Downs. The house site was located looking towards West Dean and Friston Forest. Such was the spell cast by this house, the Downs and the marine-scape that Bridge was moved to write a masterful nature poem which he at first called 'On Friston Down' but shortly retitled Enter Spring. Friston Field and its landscape was the true begetter of this dynamic celebration of countryside. The masterly rhapsody Enter Spring was amongst the last flowerings of a vivid pastoralism tempered with the serious stirrings of his more avant-garde style. It is a synthesis of the style of the Two Jefferies Poems and There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook.
So there you have it -the influence of the landscape is profound. It is a place of music, contemplation, conversation and running. What more could you want?