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Tony Grist

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Romney Marsh [Nov. 7th, 2018|12:02 pm]
Tony Grist
"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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Comments:
[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2018-11-07 03:40 pm (UTC)
Beautiful photo. I like it when a pub is opposite the churchyard.

That's an area I've always wanted to visit...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-07 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

St Mary in the Marsh is a church and a pub and not much else. Most of the people live at St Mary's Bay on the coast. There's a cottage right by the pub that was rented by the young Noel Coward. He and E Nesbit were friends.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2018-11-07 04:16 pm (UTC)
That's a lovely photo and your commentary is as well.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-07 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2018-11-07 06:07 pm (UTC)
Have you read Monica Edwards? She's a great favourite of my mum's and wrote a whole series set on Romney Marsh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Edwards#Romney_Marsh_series
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-07 07:50 pm (UTC)
No, she's new to me. Sounds interesting. Do the books have a supernatural element to them- what with her dad being an exorcist?
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2018-11-08 07:58 am (UTC)
No - the heroine, Tamsin's, father is a vicar but all the adventures are very down to earth. (It helps if you like ponies, especially early on.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-08 08:47 am (UTC)
Pity. I've got to say I'm less interested in ponies than I am in ghosts.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2018-11-08 06:09 pm (UTC)
Me too! But there's plenty of dramatic adventure too (plus a fun one where the kids decide to start a newsletter and spot a rare bird).
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2018-11-08 06:18 am (UTC)
Boy, that has dragged something out from the depths of my memory - Dr. Syn, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-08 08:47 am (UTC)
The movie, starring Patrick McGoohan? The opening, with the scarecrows on horseback, scared me witless when I was a kid.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2018-11-08 11:00 am (UTC)
That, of course, but also the novels by (I think) someone named Thorndyke. Can't remember his first name.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-08 12:13 pm (UTC)
Russell.

He was Dame Sybil Thorndyke's brother- and also an actor, though he never rose to her heights.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2018-11-08 04:59 pm (UTC)
Ah, now I didn't know that. I did love the movie of Scarecrow as well, Patrick McGoohan, which may explain my taste in my youth for dangerous looking men.
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