I have a connection with John George Haigh, the Acid Bath Murderer, who in 1949 murdered Olive Durrand-Deacon. He was held in a Horsham police station before a hearing in the town hall. Haigh murdered six people that was confirmed but he claimed more, dissolving the bodies in sulphuric acid in a large oil drum.
Bramber Castle is situated at the west of the tiny village of Bramber, near Steyning in West Sussex. Built by William De Braose around 1171, it was the administrative centre for the rape of Bramber.
I walk around the remains of the bailey and climb the motte, and later plunge into the defensive ditch that encircles it.
Cowdray House in Midhurst, West Sussex, was a Tudor nobleman’s grand mansion, built around 1520 and 1542. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I visited and stayed there, no doubt hunting in the local hazel wood forest. The house was a near copy of Hampton Court, although not quite as big. No one was permitted to have a house bigger than the king, although Cowdray did have a bigger Bay Window, much to Henry’s envy!
In 1793 a double tragedy happened. The house caught fire and gutting all the wooden interiors, priceless paintings, furniture and hammerbeam roof. Also, the current owner, the 8th Viscount Monatgue and his intended brother in law drowned in a boating accident in Germany. As a consequence the house was left in a state of ruin as no one knew quite what to do with it.
In time the house became an attraction in its own right, particularly with the Victorians after the railways arrived in Midhurst. It still is, but these days it is run by the Cowdray Heritage Trust and manned by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers. It is definitely a Vobes recommended place to visit.
The UK is filled with strange oddities. Take for example the red-brick remains of a roofless church in West Sussex tucked away in a small hamlet called Bedham. Once home to woodcutters and charcoal burners the woodland is now a nature reserve open to the public. The tiny community that lived here for generations after generations eked an existence from the land in the shadow of trees and the nearby market town, Petworth.
Religion of one faith or another has always brought people together. Long before the days of modern thinking, transportation and social media, a place of worship was the hub of the community. In the late nineteenth century the Anglican Church came to Bedham providing ministry to the rural inhabitants and education to their children.
Now, isolated and standing decaying in not much more than tumbled down bricks are the remains of the school and church. The shell of a building looks out of place. The Bald Explorer goes to investigate.
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The Bald Explorer is off in search of the smallest church in Sussex. Lullington Church, part of Cuckmere Churches, is tiny, only 16 feet square. It is a hidden gem in the East Sussex countryside on the South Downs. Used now for as the backdrop for weddings, it still has regular services for the community.
Its history is intriguing for a large church was originally on this site, but thanks to Cromwell’s puritan sensibilities his men are believed to have burnt down the nave. What we see today is really only the chancel of an earlier building.
There are many wonderful places I would like to explore and bring to the public. Why not help support the Bald Explorer by becoming a patron. A small donation would make all the difference. Find out more about becoming a patron here:
My job, if you can call it that, with the Bald Explorer programmes, is to look back in history and follow a story from the past with the perspective of today. In other words, I am retracing the steps of people or things that have gone before us, whether they are the smugglers on the Romney Marshes or a Shropshire canal that has long since been abandoned. I also try to discover the historical highlights from small, perhaps lesser known, towns and villages in the British landscape.
The documentaries, which are broadcast on the Community Channel, a not-for-profit television station and freely available to most of the British population on various digital platforms, as well as on the internet website, Youtube, are completely self-funded. By that I mean, the production budget, such as it is, comes directly from my own pocket or the kind donations received from viewers and fans who appreciate the series. I am not, at time of writing anyway, in receipt of any payment for the programmes and they currently do not make any financial return.
Although these somewhat quirky, individual, and hopefully unique, programmes are not what could be strictly described as ‘expensive’ to produce (I visit places and present the material to camera), there are costs associated with each episode. Travel expenses, overnight stays, liability insurance, food and, occasionally, location fees can be listed as the necessary out-goings that I have to find. To date, I have been lucky, in that it has been possible to cajole friends, offspring or interested parties to give up their time for free and assist me with the making of the Bald Explorer episodes. The subjects covered and locations visited have, for the most part, been within easy reach of my home, or a friend’s home, and as a result, the programmes have been made possible to produce. However, as we move into the future, and with 2014 around the corner, I would like to broaden the scope and reach of the Bald Explorer documentaries. Travelling further afield and exploring places that are genuinely ‘new’ to me would, I am certain, add value, as well as, audience enjoyment, to the series. The problem is financing it all.
I have experimented with a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter, but the results, although optimistic, did not bring in enough pledges to make a series of several episodes in one go – the most cost-effective method of making television programmes. As a consequence, I am forced to continue making each episode one at a time and simply try to cover the basic expenses. Naturally, at this stage, I am more than happy to give up my free time to produce the episodes (they are very important to me) but, self-funding them as before, is no longer possible.
The question, therefore, is can the viewing public help and how can this be managed?
In an ideal world, it would be great to have a dedicated fund-raiser to take on the role of managing the fundraising process. I am not sure I can do this myself, for I know my limitations and although I maybe good at researching the shows, scripting the episodes, pre, shoot and post production processes, the marketing and money-finding is definitely not one my strengths. So, I would be curious to see if the readers of my website and enthusiastic fans of the show might like to help or could suggest ideas towards raising the necessary cash to make the future episodes of the Bald Explorer happen?
Before I leave you, as always, may I please draw your attention to the donations button on the top right hand side of the Bald Explorer website, where your generosity is much appreciated. Thank you.