Sandwiched between London and the South Coast, Sussex has an increasingly suburban feel to it. SUVs abound. Village roads have curbs and even yellow lines.
That said, the South Downs are some of the finest and most beautiful chalk land in the country, and where they meet the sea at their eastern end, some of the best known chalk cliffs.
The Seven Sisters and Beachy Head are for many people far more of an emblem of England than the more famous "White Cliffs of Dover".
Sadly the Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum has closed. The wildfowl collection is being sold or returned to owners following instructions from the owners of the Bentley Estate.
The Bentley Miniature Railway, however, continues to operate. See their website for details.
Jack and Jill
Famous landmark for families heading south. Seeing the two windmills perched on the top of the Downs was a sure sign that, yes - we are nearly there now.
Jill, the white post mill, is open to the public most weekends in the summer (unfortunately we were there mid-week). Jack, the black tower mill, is not open as it is a private residence. All his machinery has been removed anyway.
Check the Jack and Jill Windmills Societyʼs website for the current position.
Cocking History Column
Detail Cocking History Column
The Cocking History Column was unveiled by Lady Cowdray on 15 April 2005. It was suggested by the sculptor Philip Jackson, a local resident, and made by 28 volunteers under his supervision.
It has forty eight low relief bronze panels which wind their way down the column in a spiral illustrating Cocking's history through images and text. On the Portland stone base are two parish maps by Juliet Crawford.
It was created for Cocking's Millennium celebrations as part of the West Sussex Parish Maps Project.
The problem is that, with out resorting to using binoculars, it is almost impossible to read the panels at the top of the column, and there is always a danger of getting dizzy trying to read the ones lower down chronologically.
A display board showing the panels straightened out would be a great addition to the site.
Duncton Viewpoint is a small lay-by off the A285 south of Petworth. It offers tremendous views over towards the Blackdown Hills near Haslemere.
The British Engineerium used to be housed in what was originally Brightonʼs Goldstone Pumping Station.
Sadly, due to shortage of funds, the museum closed in 2006. Last time I checked (2021), according to the British Engineeriumʼs website the site is still for sale.
In the Number 2 Engine House is the fully restored 1875 Easton and Anderson beam engine (seen here), with its pierced cast-iron stairs and walkways and barley-sugar twist columns.
Major parts of the original Easton and Amos pumping engine installed in 1866 were kept in the Number 1 Engine House.
Also on the site, when we visited, were collections of model and full-sized steam engines, craftsmenʼs tools, domestic items and much more.
The Thompson 26" Refracting Telescope
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, the Royal Greenwich Observatory moved from Greenwich to Hurstmonceux to escape light and air pollution. Little did they know that twenty years later the main telescope would be relocated to La Palma in the Canary Islands, and that the UK base would move to Cambridge.
In addition to the hands-on science park that now occupies the rather dreary concrete and glass buildings, there are tours of the small telescopes of the Equatorial Group that still remain on the site.
Check the Observatory Science Centreʼs website for opening times etc.
One for the kids mainly, but has an interesting collection of birds of prey (as well as the inevitable owls). Demonstrations are held regularly through the day.
Check the Knockhatch Adventure Parkʼs website for opening times etc.
The current bridge is a modern (1999) replacement of the one E H Sheppard immortalised all those years ago but is very much in keeping with the original built in 1907 by J C Osman.
It seems to be very popular with students from the local EFL schools, although one does wonder what on earth the Japanese and other overseas students make of the quintessentially English A A Milne.
Bring your own Pooh Sticks though, as all suitable twigs in the surrounding area, disappeared downstream long ago.
St Mary the Virgin
St Mary the Virgin, Upwaltham is a tiny Early English single cell church located in fields outside the small settlement of Upwaltham in a remote part of the South Downs.
Perhaps its most famous (only famous?) incumbent was Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892) who eventually became a Roman Catholic cardinal and Archbishop of Westminster.
St Mary the Virgin
Before converting to Catholicism, Manning started his career as curate to the Rector of Lavington-with-Graffham, and was in charge of St Mary's, Upwaltham. The church and surrounding area always had a special place in his heart and later in life he wrote to Mary Wilberforce:
I am afraid it is a weakness of mine to remember the past. It rises up to me like the background to some sacred picture where even the earth looks like Paradise … The Downs seem to me only less beautiful than heaven.
According to the board outside the church services are held on the third Sunday of the month at 11:30.