June 17th, 2021

Carrying On From The Previous Post

Fulking has a couple of roadside springs- one of which has been dressed up as a memorial to John Ruskin. This is the other.

It also has a famous inn- The Shepherd and Dog. Ailz said I should photograph the inn sign- so I did.

We had been planning to go up onto the Devil's Dyke but we didn't see any turnings, so we just kept driving. We stopped in Upper Beeding and Ailz looked at house prices while I visited the charming but not terribly interesting village church. It appears we could afford to live there. Upper Beeding isn't particularly pretty but sits right next door to Bramber which is. So far as I'm aware- in spite of having been at school just down the road- the only time I'd visited Bramber was to visit Potter's famous museum of curiosities- which is no longer there. Potter was a local taxidermist who created fanciful tableaux featuring hundreds of dead animals. He had an exhibit called the kittens' wedding and another with guinea pigs playing cricket. When the collection came up for sale Damien Hirst offered the auctioneers £1,000,000 for the lot and they said "No" which meant the exhibits were dispersed far and wide- and the sellers got less for them than they might have done if Hirst's offer had been accepted- which made them cross. As a kid I thought Potter's museum was amazing. Now I'm less sure.

Anyway, I'd never visited the Castle before. It's enormous- or, at least, it's ground plan is enormous- because there's very little of it still standing.

Bramber Castle was built by William the Conqueror's sidekick- William de Braose- whose grandson's mistreatment by King John was a factor in the baron's revolt and the subsequent signing of Magna Carta. William de Braose III was a ruthless politician who invited a bunch of Welsh princes to a Christmas do so he could treacherously murder them all- and may also have been complicit in the murder of John's nephew Arthur. It's unclear why John turned against him but it may have been because he knew where the bodies were buried. de Braose escaped into exile- but his wife and eldest son were captured by John, banged up in Corfe Castle and there starved to death. As it says in the poem by A.A. Milne, "King John was not a good man..."

The first de Braose also built the church- a very handsome building- which once had transepts and a chancel but has since been pruned.

I love this wonderfully crude Romanesque capital, with its apparently random carvings of predators predating.

From Bramber we drove down to Shoreham- past the gothic glasshouse where I spent much of my adolescence. I have been thinking since about the schooling I received there- and what a fascinating, oppressive, scary place it was- and how fifty years is far too long to harbour resentment...