03 September 2016

It’s a sign: East Sussex

You know I just can’t resist a well-designed / interesting / lovely / intriguing / memorable / fascinating sign when I see one so, of course, I photographed a few during my recent short break in East Sussex. Here they are:

The Kings Head, Battle
The Kings Head is reputed to be the oldest pub in Battle but I don’t know if that’s actually true. The English Heritage website says it’s a Grade II-listed timber-framed building, dating from the 17th century or earlier, though it has at some point been modernised and had a new front attached. When researching this piece, I found a fascinating reference to documents, pertaining to the building, that are held at the East Sussex Record Office

The will of William Easton of Battle gent., dated 1783, proved PCC 1789, among other property devises a freehold messuage in Battle to John Longley the elder of Battle bricklayer and then to his son John ... In a mortgage of Nov 1810, the property is called Delveday ...

In Nov 1833, Ann Longley conveyed this property to her mother Mary ... who in Oct 1837 sold it to Thomas Wickham of Battle, miller for £650 ... The property passed to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of William Austin of Battle, victualler ... In June 1845, they sold the property, now known as the Kings Head Inn, for £735 to William Miskin of Broad Street, Horselydown, Surrey and others ... [and there is more]

The pub obviously has a long and interesting history. It also does reasonable food, as we discovered when we stopped off here for an early dinner on our way home from Rye Harbour.

The Cuckmere Inn, Cuckmere Haven
This was our lunch stop on the day we spent at the Seven Sisters Country Park, and a very pleasant one it was too. Conveniently situated at Exceat, on the road between Seaford and Eastbourne, and overlooking the Cuckmere River, the outdoor terraces proved a very pleasant place to eat and sparrow watch – a rather large flock has discovered the joys of human leftovers.

Though I haven’t been able to date the Inn, I imagine it is quite old. It is perfectly sited as a transfer point when the nearby beach at Cuckmere Haven was used by smugglers in the Middle Ages. The top part of the sign includes part of the coat of Arms of the nearby port of Seaford: the ‘lion-hulks’ (half lion half ship) appear in the heraldry of many of the Cinque Ports towns, and the eagle comes from the coat of arms of the d'Aquila family, former landowners in medieval times. The lower part of the sign shows the meandering Cuckmere River, and the motto ‘E ventis vires’ means ‘From the wind, strength’, a reference to the days of sailing ships.

The Cuckmere Inn used to be called the Golden Galleon, an allusion to Drake’s galleon the Golden Hind perhaps or to the Famous Five book? Who knows. I do know lunch was delicious!

Unstable ground
This sign appears at the start of the Seven Sisters cliff-top walk and other similar warning signs have been hammered into the ground all along the cliff tops. Unfortunately, the warnings are frequently ignored by walkers, who range perilously close to the cliff edges, as you can see from my photo. They’re mad! The chalk is crumbly and, with constant encouragement from wind and rain, large slices of cliff fall off on a regular basis.

The Ram, Firle
Another day, another scrumptious pub lunch. The Ram is in the tiny historic village of Firle and is part of the 500-year-old Firle Estate, owned by the Gage family. The inn is a Grade II-listed, brick and flint building that used to be a regular rest stop for the Lewes to Alfriston coach – that’s horse and coach, not motorised bus! The building was also once used as the village court room where the rents for tenant farmers were set and collected. Nowadays, it’s a popular lunch stop and also has boutique accommodation if you fancy a weekend away in a delightful setting.

Metal detecting prohibited
After our lunch at the Ram in Firle, we drove to the top of the hills above and walked a few miles of the South Downs Way. This sign hung on a gate into farmland at the beginning of our walk. In case you can’t quite make it out the sign reads: ‘Firle Estate. METAL DETECTING ON THIS LAND IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE. To Report an incident Please Call the Estate Office on xxx or Sussex Police on xxx.’ It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like this but, as the hilltops are dotted with ancient Bronze Age barrows and Neolithic earthworks, I can certainly understand the prohibition on amateur metal detecting.

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