Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Romney Marsh

"Bleak," said Ailz.

And I couldn't disagree- because it is. And on a winter's day with the sleet cutting sideways across the very flat fields it must be intensely so.

But yesterday the sun was shining.

"No, I wouldn't want to live here," I said. "But being here makes me happy."

Why?

Perhaps it's genetic or even karmic. My father was stationed here during the war. And the churchyard at Brookland is full of people with our surname- which is uncommon in the South East. And then there's the feel to the place. You come down off the high ground and you know you've crossed a border. It's a haunted landscape: wisewomen and smugglers and sprites. Also it owns one of the least spoiled collection of medieval churches in the country.

Kipling loved the area so much that he annexed it to Sussex- his own county- when most of it is actually in Kent. Reading Puck of Pooks Hill and Rewards and Fairies you'd never know this annexation had taken place. He glozes over it by insisting that the area is a special place all to itself- which it is. As the old saying has it: The world is divided into five parts- Europe, Asia, Africa, Americky- and Romney Marsh. No mention of Australia because the Marsh men and women were saying this among themselves and to whoever would lend them an ear long before Captain Cook made landfall on the Southern Continent.

Edith Nesbit lived on the Marsh- and is buried in one of its churchyards. As I said, it's an area famous for wisewomen. I've been meaning to have lunch at The Star Inn at St Mary in the Marsh for a while now- and yesterday we got round to it- and I'm happy to report it's a friendly place. The Star was her local and if you sit in the beer garden (a little cold for that yesterday) you can drink your pint while gazing out towards her grave.

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