Category Archives: Chichester

A Floral Dance

When I read this post from Heaven Happens today, I was immediately transported back to the time I spent playing companion to that elderly lady in Sussex.

We lived in a very small village, some 6 miles from Chichester. There was no shop but there was a pub and a splendid 12th-century church, complete with Norman tower and a very interesting churchyard. To get to the church one had to traverse Church Lane, a small road with thatched roof cottages along either side. Really a chocolate box scene.

Foolishly, when I changed computers I omitted to save all the photos.

Surrounding our village was a number of other small and equally attractive villages. One was called Apuldram.  This village was still a little removed and revels in its ancient history. Many of the houses date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and some even further back.

Dell Quay, Apuldram

The sea still plays a part in the lives of the inhabitants of the village.  Once boats and the sea were means of livelihood for the people of Apuldram; now there are sailing boats and runabouts anchored in the basin at Dell Quay.

Here too, the church is the centre of this village and it is put to many uses other than holding services. Because of the number of those uses to which the church was now being put, an extension was needed and so the village people started to fundraise. One of the ways to do so was to hold a weekend Festival of Music and Flowers. I wrote at length about this in my early blogging days. If you would like to read that post -here’s a link.

So happy memories of time spent in England, visiting places old and new.

Special thanks to Heaven Happens for reminding me of this wonderful weekend, spent in the English countryside on an autumn weekend.

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Fishbourne Roman Palace

Following the death of my husband in 1998, I spent several years travelling between the UK and NZ.  I spent quite a lot of that time in West Sussex in a small village some 6 miles outside Chichester.

Model of Palace

Model of the Palace as it would have been

One of my favourite places to visit was Fishbourne, the site of the famous Roman Palace that was discovered in 1961 by workmen laying a new water main.  It is most certainly very impressive

This is the largest building of Roman origin north of the Alps and research has shown that the first buildings on the site were erected in or about 43 AD and were granaries to supply the conquering army.  A few years late a house was built on the site but quite a modest one.  This was apparently demolished to make way for the palace.  The remains of the north wing with its remarkable collection of mosaic floors are displayed inside a building erected to protect the site.

Mosaic floor

The palace consisted of four large wings with collonaded fronts, forming a square around a formal garden. The garden has now been replanted to its original plan.

The north and east wings consisted of suites of rooms built around courtyards, with a monumental entrance in the middle of the east wing.  In the north-east corner was an aisled assembly hall. The west wing contained staterooms, a large ceremonial reception room, and a gallery. The south wing contained the owner’s private apartments. The palace also included as many as 50 mosaic floors, under-floor central heating and an integral bathhouse.

At the time of my last visit in 2006 part of the hot water reticulation system has been unearthed quite recently.

Over the next two hundred years Fishbourne Roman Palace was further renovated, and this was when the mosaic floors were introduced,.  Man of these can still be viewed including the famous Boy on a Dolphin that people come from all over the world to view.

Boy on a dol[hin

World famous Boy on a Dolphin

As an aside, my mouse pad has a copy of the mosaic on it.

The building covers approximately 5,000 square feet and is comparable in size to Buckingham Palace or Nero’s Golden House in Rome.

In the late third century, Fishbourne Roman Palace was struck by fire and there is no evidence that the site was re-built beyond that date. The remains lay lost and forgotten until their discovery in the 1960s.

Skeleton

This skeleton has lain here undisturbed for many years, having been discovered during the excavation of the site.

When I was there excavation was continuing with a positive army of volunteers and an equal number of people tending the garden and the grounds and acting as guides to the many visions.

If you find yourself in West Sussex one day, do make the effort to go to the palace.  You will be well rewarded.

Jubilate! A Festival of Music and Flowers

 “It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.  ~P.D. James, English author.

Those of you who follow my blog will know by now that I have a very special affection for West Sussex and particularly the area around Chichester.

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral via Wikipedia

And Apuldram near Chichester is a very special place.  Still a little removed from the modern world reveling as it does in its ancient history.  Many of the houses date back to the 18th and 19th century.  One could imagine Jane Austen or one of the Brontes setting their stories here.  Its inhabitants are scattered over the flat, sweeping landscape, with its glimpses of the harbour, the Cathedral spire and the South Downs.  The sea still plays a role in the activities of the inhabitants.  Where once boats and the sea were means of livelihood for the people of Apuldram now there are sailing boats and runabouts anchored in the basin at Dell Quay.

Apuldram Church

Apuldram Church © Copyright Chris Gunns

And of course the Church.  The beautiful 12th century building is still used regularly for church services.  The last time I was there, there was still no shop, hotel or petrol station in the village and the Church is the hub.

But it is a very small church and the uses to which it was now being put required some extensions.  With this in mind, thoughts turned to fund raising.

The gardens of West Sussex are beautiful and the gardeners produce prolific blooms.  Music is important to most people, and has a special place in a church.

So it was decided that a Festival of Music and Flowers would be held.  Months of planning would have followed this decision and the outcome of all the work was a weekend in September.  I think this was 2005.  The Festival would run Friday through Sunday with floral displays decorating the church, the gardens of the manor house open to the public for refreshments and of course, music in both the Church and the gardens.

It was a glorious weekend.  We chose to go on Saturday, as did many others.

Music greeted us as we entered the church. The church was absolutely beautifully decorated with displays by local florists, flower societies and churches from far and near.  Every window, each nook and cranny, including the Squint, had a magnificent arrangement.

This Squint, or more properly called an Hagioscope, was installed so that those who were confined to worship in the small chapel behind the organ could have a clear view of what was happening at the altar.  This small chapel is a 14th century addition to the church.

Of particular interest was the organ loft.  Local lore has it that this organ was the one temporarily installed at Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s first Christmas party.

The design here was a representation of a Victorian Christmas.  Of course, this incorporated a Christmas tree (remembering that Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain).   The Victorian’s love of fashionable items was also apparent with paisley shawls, finger-less gloves and of course, feathers.

The vestry is accessed through an arch and worshipers at Apuldram garlanded this arch.  Garlands were popular in Ancient Rome and in Greece.  They adorned the heads of Caesars, dignitaries and brides.  Garlands have also been discovered in tomb paintings. This garland was spectacular.

Other floral exhibits and arrangements depicted “Harvest Festival”, “Mountains and Hills and all Green Things Upon the Earth”, “All the Powers of the Lord”, “Light and Day, Night and Darkness”.  In all there were 19 arrangements.  It was a sensational effort by many people working together for a common cause.

Historical notes were included in the programme.  For instance the decoration called ‘The Founding of St Mary’s as a Chapel of Ease” had the note that the church was built in the 12th century for the Bosham Collegiate.  And that before the channel silted up and Apuldram had a burying ground, the dead were rowed over to Bosham.

Apuldram font

© Copyright 2011, Apuldram Church

The font’s decoration was entitled “O Children of Men and Priests of the Lord”.  This lovely arrangement had been done by two of the worshipers at Chichester Cathedral.  There was a historical note accompanying the information “The font is 12th Century in origin and is of Purbeck marble and is most probably the original one”.

The quiet, classical music played throughout our time in the Church was totally in keeping with the floral decorations.  It was uplifting and glorious.

We then went back down the church path to visit the Manor Farm gardens.  Along the way we passed a farmer on a tractor.  But no ordinary farmer this: He was stuffed – literally.

Scarecrow on tractor

At the church gate we saw an old bicycle that was no doubt originally used for deliveries by a local merchant, bearing in its basket a mass of flowers of all colours.  And a pair of Wellington boots planted with flowers.

The children were enjoying pony rides while those of us in need of refreshment made our way to the tea marquee.

Jubilate

Here the ladies of the church and their children (and some grandchildren) had excelled themselves.  The marquee was set with tables and chairs.  Pretty tablecloths adorned each table.  Around the marquee were placards giving information on various plants, flowers and herbs.  Of particular interest to me, was the following:

Woody Nightshade.  Relating to the potato and tomato. Attractive climbing plant with heart shaped leaves and shiny berries. The berries were used medicinally and the dried second-year stems were pounded into an essence. This was then prescribed for skin diseases caused by metabolic disorder, rheumatic conditions and blood disorders.”

It also stated “An overdose produces paralysis of the tongue, difficulty in swallowing and breathing”. Clearly an essence to be avoided.  How many other medicinal herbs commonly used in earlier times, had such disastrous side effects?

A ploughman’s lunch was on offer, as were sandwiches and a variety of cakes.  We were well fed and ready to inspect the various produce and bric-a-brac stalls dotted around the grounds.

A second marquee was set up for the string quartet.  They entertained with light classical music to the enjoyment of all.  There were chairs set around outside this marquee and people were sitting in the sun, some with cups of tea, but many sitting just enjoying the music.

The atmosphere was one of good humour, friendliness and neighbourliness.

 The festival was entitled Jubilate.  We are told by Josie Pound, the Festival Designer, “Looking in the Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 100 ‘Jubilate Deo’ fairly leapt out of the page, as did the Benedicite Omnia Opera, with all its wonderful descriptive verses, ideal for interpretative work by keen arrangers!”   The Festival certainly lived up to its name.

We thoroughly enjoyed this very English way to spend a lovely, September Saturday in this beautiful part of the world.


Judith Baxter, EzineArticles.com Platinum Author
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A Winter Week in the Country

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money and they can take away your health; but no one can ever take away your precious memories.” Judith Baxter 1938 –

I read this blog from 1959duke today and I thought I should like to share another of my memories.

It came upon me very gradually.  I had been on my own for 4 years  following my husband’s sudden death of after 41 years of marriage.  My sister in America, had to cancel her visit to me for health reasons and in all, it seemed that my life was at a standstill.  I was waiting for something to happen.  Then I realized I had to make it happen.

I decided that I would visit my sister in LA for several weeks and then go on to my other sister and father in London.  But there is always a question of money when one goes away for any length of time.

At the time, the New Zealand dollar was so weak that everything became exorbitantly expensive when one was traveling.  Through a friend I had heard of a company in the UK that arranged short-term placements for companion/housekeepers.  So the first move was to get information from that company and once it was established that I did qualify to work for them, other arrangements were made.  The apartment was leased for four months which gave me time to decide what I was going to do and where I was going to live.

Having visited with my sister is LA I went to London to spend Christmas with my father and my other sister and her family.

Just before Christmas I went to the agency that was to arrange a job for me.  They had only one position to offer me.  This was with an elderly (89-year-old widow) who lived alone in a small village outside Chichester.  This is not an area with which I am familiar.  I met the client a couple of days before Christmas and it was decided that we would have a trial period of two weeks, commencing early January.

The day I was to start working in Sussex I woke up to a ‘winter wonderland’.  London totally covered in snow.  All the road and rail travel in chaos.  I took a  taxi to Victoria Station to go to Chichester.

I had a very interesting train ride  during which I met two South African women who had been acting as companion/carers, one for a period of 8 months and the other for 4 months.  Their motivation for doing this was to be able to purchase a property when they returned to Johannesburg. Neither of them was particularly happy in their work and did their best to put me off.

Snow in chichester

Chichester Photo Ashley Stevens

Arriving in Chichester I took a taxi to Highleigh, my destination and part of a very small village some 6 miles out.  Unfortunately the driver didn’t know the way and of course, neither did I.  Luckily I had my mobile phone and we could call the client for directions.

After taking afternoon tea with my client during which we discussed Christmas and how we had spent it; she was in Tenerife at a great nephew’s wedding and I was in London with my sister’s family; I took time to unpack and settle in.

Eggs

Eggs to be scrambled

Supper was a disaster.  It was decided we would have macaroni cheese.  A very simple dish that even very young children can make. However, the oven’s temperature guide was in Fahrenheit and I am used to Centigrade.  As the resulting macaroni was inedible we settled on scrambled eggs.  Not an auspicious start and particularly as I had been warned by the agency that this was a very demanding woman and nobody had ever managed more than two weeks with her.

Sunday – I woke to find that the oil central heating wasn’t working.  The plumber was in Oxford taking a daughter back to university, so a telephone call to a friend of the house-owner resulted in taking off with the friend to the nearest large hardware store to buy a heater.  We found two old heaters in the house and so were able to manage until the plumber came on Monday.

Monday dawned wet and windy.  The plumber came but the gardener did not.  He decided that he would rather do extra shifts at the local hostelry and so would not come back to do the garden.

Tuesday started very well.  I took the dog in the car and we then had a lovely walk around the harbor.  But when we returned we noticed that the dog was very quiet.

Perhaps she was exhausted from the walk?  Not so.  She was chewing her way through my handbag to get at the chocolate covered raisins.

Victoria sponge cake

Not content with that, and following being severely chastised, she then took the top off the sponge cake I had put out for afternoon tea.  To complete the day, she then made a big puddle in the sitting room.

On Wednesday we went into town to do some shopping.  Unfortunately, my lady  parked the car facing the wrong way in a one-way street – the result an instant thirty pounds sterling fine.

Peugeot car

Mrs M's car

Later we decided that it was time to call the window cleaner.  He hadn’t been seen for months.  His response was that he was about ready to retire being eligible now for the pension.  He thought he would work only part-time for now and would only go to those clients who paid the most.  Blackmail or what?  So add that to the chronicle of disasters for the week.

Thursday it snowed and  the snow caused chaos in parts of the country.  Motorists were stranded on the M11 one of the busiest motorways and on the M25 the motorway that circles London.  Great outcry about the lack of foresight of the various local bodies and those responsible for applying the grit to the road.

Chichester Cathedral via Wikipedia

Friday dawned another freezing cold day.  I went into the town and explored the Cathedral and the quaint shops and lanes.

Well, then Saturday.  We awoke to find that we had no telephone.  The owner of the house was 89 years old and a trifle frail and therefore, very vulnerable.  Luckily I had my trusty mobile phone but when I did get through to British Telecom I was told that there was a fault outside the house and it could be next Friday before anyone could get around to fixing it.

Old phone

They did tag the call priority, but could make no promises as to when the phone would be in working order once again.  The whole morning was spent chasing British Telecom and the Care Line Service that provides assistance to elderly folk in case of emergencies.

Again, Mathilde (the Dandy Dinmont dog) was very quiet.  The breakfast tray cloth was larger than the tray and yes, you’ve guessed it, Mathilde tugged the cloth and the whole tray fell distributing tea, butter, milk, marmalade etc etc everywhere.  Not only did the floor have to be washed but also the kitchen table and the covers on the kitchen chairs.  Oh happy day!  And we were having guests for lunch!

Malhilde

So to Sunday.  A beautiful clear, frosty day dawned.  We decided we would go to Church.  The Church in the village is 12th century and has been used for worship regularly since then.  It is rather simple but very lovely.  After Church we were taken to lunch at the local country club.  Roast beef was on the menu, so following a dry sherry and a conducted tour of the premises, we all tucked in.

On our return to the cottage we heard the dog barking furiously.  The silly, greedy, little thing had been scavenging in the downstairs cloakroom and got her head stuck in the empty bag that had held dog biscuits.  Not quite frothing at the mouth when we arrived.

So you can see that life in an English village is not uneventful. My family was amazed that I didn’t throw my hands up in disgust and return home.

“To live in lives we leave behind is not to die. So don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.”  Judith Baxter


Judith Baxter, EzineArticles.com Platinum Author
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