On our way back we visited Bosham (pronounced BOZZ'm), the port of Chichester. Its claims to fame, besides being cute, are a little church whose tower and chancel arch predate the Norman conquest, and a roadway lining the bay that floods every high tide. These are apparently enough, however, so that even at the relative unpicturesque low tide the place was fairly crawling with tourists. The chancel arch of the church stands on two blocks of stone from an an even earlier fane on this site--a Roman temple of Diana. I find it a peculiarly vivid example of Christendom's tendency to appropriate, and thus more or less obliterate, any religious signifiers that it does already own. (For further examples, consider the pre-Christian origins of just about any of the major Christian holidays.)
Also on our way back, Stas took this photo through an open car window. We went into and past Arundel numerous times while staying at Poling. One of the best things about Arundel is its textbook medieval skyline, dominated by cathedral on one side and castle on the other. In this case neither landmark is quite so medieval as it pretends to be, but the overall effect is a rather successful counterfeit.
Today we visited Penshurst Place, a stately home in the Tudor style, with old-style gardens to match--in contrast to the later eighteenth-century style of landscaping that aimed at a more wild or natural look. Inside is a magnificent fourteenth-century great hall and a great deal of wonderful wood paneling, but photography is only allowed outside. The most famous of those whose house this has been was Sir Philip Sidney, who distinguished himself as poet, literary critic, soldier, and courtier in the Elizabethan period. The house was given to the Sidneys by Henry VIII, who got hold of it by the simple expedient of denouncing its previous owner for treason--which meant that the man (who had recently entertained the king here) got beheaded, and Henry got yet another fine piece of real estate to give to a crony. As Mel Brooks famously observed, it's good to be the King--or his crony.
One of many separate quadrangles enclosed by the dense square-cut yew hedges holds this goldfish pond with fountain.
As at Wilton, a splendid playground was provided for children.
Stas had another appointment in Tunbridge Wells afterwards, and the kids and I killed time about town, with some difficulty since most places were closed for August Bank Holiday Monday. The Opera House was open, but it's merely a pub of that name now. I approve of pubs in general, but this seems a waste.
Our B&B here is an appropriate resting place after a day at Penshurst: it is a vast pile of much the same period, and also apparently kept by the current family for a good deal of its history. Even the garden is a little reminiscent of Penshurst's though far more modest. I shall try to take a few photographs and maybe ask a few questions in the morning.
Heading back down towards the south coast, we stopped at Bodiam Castle, a late but supremely picturesque example of castle architecture. By the latter half of the fourteenth century, when the lord of the manor got his "license to crenellate" or turn the place into a castle, castles had evolved from the early Norman "motte and bailey," through various configurations of concentric fortification, into the "courtyard castle." This kind had just one layer of defensive wall, which doubled as the outer wall of a single stone building in the form of a hollow square. But by that time also the advent of artillery was already beginning to spell the end of castles as effectual defensive structures. In one of the corner towers is displayed a replica of a fourteenth-century artillery piece excavated from the moat, a wrought-iron "bombard" capable of projecting a 160-pound limestone ball a few tens of yards. This capability in itself was no real advance over older catapult technology, except perhaps in point of portability; but it was the harbinger of things to come, when high stone walls would be easy to shatter from outside. Trevor and Ariadne and I climbed the inevitable spiral stone stairs right to the tops of two of the eight towers. (There are four round ones at the corners, with rectangular ones in between; and the ones above the front and postern gates both have machicolated battlements, for defenders' convenience in dropping or pouring down harmful things on anyone assailing either gate.)
After Bodiam we proceeded to Beachy Head, where the range of chalk hills called the South Downs is cut off by the English Channel so as to form the higher though less celebrated set of the "white cliffs of Albion" (the other set, where the North Downs meet the sea, is at Dover). We walked to the cliff top along a piece of the South Down Way (a foot-path running the full length of the range), from a point to the east along the coast. Afterwards we went to Alfriston for one of the cream teas for which the village is justly famed, and then back east here to Rye.