The Brightling Needle stands at the 2nd highest point in Sussex, a couple of miles from the village of Brightling. It was built in around 1810 by John Fuller. No one quite knows why it was built, but it was possibly to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Best known as ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller, the squire of Brightling village built several other unusual buildings in East Sussex, Including Fuller’s Tower which can be seen from the village. One of its windows peek out from the cover of the trees, watching the village like an unblinking eye.John Fuller was a politician and philanthropist. As well as the follies, he is best known for saving Bodiam Castle from destruction, funding the Eastbourne Lifeboat, and funding the Belle Tout Lighthouse on Beachy Head. His pyramid mausoleum, within the Brightling Church cemetery was built in 1810, 24 years before his death.John Fuller’s mausoleum is very similar to that of James Burton, the architect of St Leonards on Sea. Was Burton inspired by Fuller’s memorial? These pyramid mausoleums are still being built. Actor Nic Cage apparently has one already waiting for him in a New Orleans graveyard.Â Each of these photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.
The pylons crossing Romney Marsh in a straight line across seven miles always draw my attention when I goÂ past them. Now accompanied by the wind turbines they are one of the key features of Romney Marsh, like them or not.
The pylons carry power from Dungeness Power station, and presumably from the Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm. It is interesting to compare the power output from the two sources. Dungeness generates about 900 megawatts of electricity from its two reactors, whilst Cheyne Court produces 60 megawatts from its 26 turbines. If we were to use wind turbines to replace the power generated by Dungeness when it shuts down there would need to be 390 more of them. Assuming my maths is right.
I wonder if they would get planning permission for them?
Pevensey Castle is an ancient fortification originally constructed by the Romans in 290 ad, rebuilt by the Normans and updated across the following centuries. It has been subject to three sieges and been a prison to several important historical characters. This webpage tells its tale well. For a castle with such a history, it is surprisingly undeveloped for tourists.
You’ll be charged by English Heritage to enter the central keep above, but the extensive grounds within the outer wall are free to access. Visiting now you might wonder why the Romans built a fort here. You are not seeing the land as it was 1,300 years ago though. Here at Pevensey the castle was built next to the sea, as this map shows. The castle was built as a part of a series of shoreline forts to help the Roman fleets protect trade ships from pirates. This chain of forts extended from the Isle of Wight to the Wash.
You can still just see the sea from the castle, but it is two miles distant now. Pevensey is famous for being the site where William landed his army in 1066. Some doubt has been shed on this theory, mainly by the exhaustive efforts ofÂ Secrets of the Norman Invasion website. The author believes that the invading army landed at the Coombe Haven inletÂ before moving inland a few miles for the fateful battle.
Whether WilliamÂ actually landed nearby or not, he certainly came here after England had been won and converted the fort to a stone castle. By the time the Domesday Book was written aÂ total 49 castles were built across England to help consolidate Norman rule over the country.
The Roman choice to build a defensive structure at this location was a sound one. Since it was built is has always served as a defensive hard point. At any time the country was under threat, whether from pirates, Vikings, the Spanish Armada, NapoleonÂ orÂ Germany the castle has been used as part of a network of defenses. The last from WW2 can still be seen incorporated into the ancient walls.
This rundown building once housed the Mary Stanford lifeboat. It stands on the shore near Rye Harbour and is a grade 2 listed building. The old lifeboat house has remained unused since 15th November 1928. On that day the Mary Stanford lifeboat was launched with a crew of 17 to answer the distress call of a Latvian ship named ‘Alice of Riga’ which had been in a collision with a German ship named ‘Smyrna’. The wind was blowing in excess of 80 mph, as the crew manhandled the 4 ton boat over the shingle and sand, then pushed off into the storm. As they rowed away word was received that the crew of the troubled ship had all been saved. The lifeboat crew could not see the signals from the shore, and the Mary Stanford continued on. The storm overcame them and all 17 crew perished. The full details can be read here or there is a great video here that tells the story with images of the boat and crew which is worth watching all the way through.
The boat house is one and a half miles from Rye Harbour, this map shows how isolated is it.
The sea defenses have been installed since 1928 as far as I know, this view was taken from the sea’s edge (or close, I didn’t get my feet wet). The tide was about half way out at the time, however there are large areas of sand flats where the shingle ends and at low tide the sea is at least another 100 meters further out. Snow Patrol filmed one of their music videos here.
Exposed to the elements and covered with people’s initial’s scratched into the brickwork the boat house has a certain character. It is not totally abandoned though as fund raising is in progress to restore it and possibly add a ‘coastal classroom’ for local children to use.Â
The crew’s memorial is in Rye Harbour church, which is here. You can buy a book about the Mary Stanford lifeboat written by Geoff Hutchinson from Amazon here. All photos here can be clicked and viewed full size in Flickr.
Long term readers of this blog my recognise this article as a repost, which is correct. I have updated the photos to better ones however!
Glastonbury Tor rises impressively above the Somerset Levels. The landmark, with the ruined tower of St Michael’s Church can be seen for miles around. It is a place steeped in myth and legend, from being home to the King of the Fairies, Gwyn Ap Nudd to being part of a gigantic zodiac map.
It’s a long slog walking up to the top, but the effort is worth it when you get there. You are presented with a fantastic panorama of the levels. It’s this view that gives Glastonbury Tor its magical air, which I’ve tried to capture in the images below.TheÂ view above looks towards the town of Glastonbury with the Mendip Hills in the distance.Looking south-east across the Somerset LevelsLooking north-east towards Wells and the Mendips. I was lucky with the weather, visibility was very good.There were several people up on the Tor, ranging from those who believe in the magic of the place, to a particular keen runner who ran up and down the hill three times whilst I was there.Each of these images can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.
Anyone that visits Dungeness Beach is always attracted to the abandoned fishing boats and buildings. These desertedÂ businesses seem to fit into theÂ unique Dungeness atmosphere. There is something about abandoned places that is unsettling but commands attention.Perhaps it interests us what would happen if people were to suddenly disappear. At Dungeness, with some imagination, you can feel as if you are all alone in the world, wandering amongst the decaying world humans left behind. If you like this type of thing, this webpageÂ has some great photographs of other abandoned places.All you need to do to get the real feel of Dungeness is to wander off the road, away from the tourist route to the lighthouse and train station. There will be a few photographers wandering around, but you’ll be mostly alone. All you’ll hear is the sea, wind and occasionally the humming soundÂ from the power station.As you walk southwards on the beach, newer boats can be observed. It’s clear that rather than the industry dying out here, it is still going. Newer boats and materiel are present along with the old.Â New questions can be asked; like why don’t they tidy up?
In some parts of Dungeness Beach there are some sculptures and art pieces. This is not one of them. Instead it was once a marker for fishing boats to use to help them navigate in from the sea. It became defunct with modern technology.These photos of Dungeness Beach, plus a few additional ones can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.
Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex. At 248 meters it is not particularly high,Â it’s not even the highest point on the South Downs – Butser Hill is top at 270 meters followed byÂ Crown Tegleaze at 253m. Those two are in West Sussex. There were plenty of clouds in the sky when I was there and the passing showers had made the visibility very good. I could see for miles.
Then I wondered how far I could see. If the formula I’ve used is correct, I could potentially see 36.4 miles in the radius from the peak. This however assumes there is perfect visibility and the land around is dead flat.Â
That isÂ potentially far enough to see Rye in the east,Â Chichester in the west, and even as far as Croydon to the north. The rolling land and trees prevent these from being seen in reality, particularly with the naked eye. The one standout landmarkÂ is theÂ AMEX Stadium that can be seen beyond the field of cows in the photos above. It isÂ about 3 miles away, and it’s silver roof was shining in the sun.Â Needless to say that the views are excellent. On this day the strong wind was blowing big cloud formations across the sky. These cast their shadows onto the land, changing the light all the time. And it was nice to know that for the short time I was there, no one in East Sussex was higher than me. These photos of Ditchling Beacon can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.
Ightham Mote is a National Trust property near Sevenoaks in Kent. It is a moated manor house that originally dates from the 14th Century. Over the centuries the house has been repaired, extended and remodelled according to the trends of the time. As you can see from these pictures it is a beautiful place, set perfectly within the lovely Kent countryside.
The interior of the house is equal to its exterior, with a courtyard and unusual internal layout the reflects its development as a property over time. It is a place that you could imagine living in, and certainly not one you would ever consider tearing down. And yet this nearly happened. When the one time owner of the house, Thomas Colyer Ferguson, died in 1951 his grandson James inherited the estate. Overwhelmed by the maintenance costs he decided to auction the house and it’s contents.
To raise more funding it was suggested that the building be levelled so that the lead and other metals could be sold off. Can you imagine something as grand as Ightham Mote being demolished just to generate some profit for the owner? Neither could three local men, who clubbed together and brought the property.
MessrsÂ William Durling, John Goodwin and John Baldock hoped that a buyer could be found that would respect the place. An American, Charles Robinson, purchased it two years later and began to restore the property back to its former glory. A lifelong bachelor, he decided in that the National Trust would take over the running of the property upon his death.
Since the National Trust has been taking care of the property over Â£10 million has been spent on repairing it across a period of 15 years. It is money well spent I think. All of these pictures can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.
Here are two photos, one of Hastings Beach and the other of Hastings Old Town, both processed in black and white. The hazy weather had made the colour versions of these images look a bit flat. Converting them to black and white has, I think, helped to improve upon the original image. Why do black and white images sometimes work better than colour ones?
I think it is because the simplified colour scheme helps to make the image easier to process visually. It also subtlety increases the contrast between the light and shade. We always see in colour, so a black and white image can make us pause and look closely at it. That’s my opinion what it is worth. For someone else’s read this interesting article.
Both of these photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.
We thought we would have a nice walk along Bexhill seafront last weekend. As we drove there via Catsfield the sun, which had been out since it rose, went in.Â As we got closer to Bexhill the clouds were getting thicker and thicker to the west. TheyÂ had that blue/grey look that tells you a lot of rain is coming.
“I’m sure we’ll get our walk in before it rains” I said cheerfully whilst wondering if that were true. Inevitably a car in front of us was travelling at 10 mph under the speed limit, and slowing whenever a car came in the opposite direction. And slowly I started to feel anxious that we wouldn’t make it in time – like I would be late for something important.
That unreasonable anxiety generated unwanted responses to the situation. Feeling angry at the driver in front for being inconsiderate of my need to get to the seafront. AnnoyedÂ because the light has turned red just as we were approaching it. Frustrated at things out of my control, all because it looked like rain.
I was out the car almost before it stopped. There was some time before the rain arrived. We had twenty minutes until the first fat drops began to fall.
And I managed to take this photo of Bexhill seafront before it rains.