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.
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Work is nearly complete on the next Bald Explorer episode, Taking the Waters; a documentary about the discovery of the spring water at Tunbridge Wells, in Kent. However, there are still a few things to make it complete and hopefully assist the telling of the story.
When filming, particularly on a limited budget, it isn’t always possible to match the same production values as the big boys. The BBC love to take their presenters into museum archives and have them presenting pieces to camera while at the same time handling original texts, books and scrolls. It is as if they need to demonstrate visually that what they are telling the audience is factually true. To be honest, I do wonder how many people would know whether the so-called 17th century manuscript written on vellum and scrawled in ink by a quill pen is genuine, or that it is the book in question or even if it proclaims the things we are being told. We have to take all this on face value – but they do love to show you this type of thing, so you can ‘believe’ it is authentic.
I am afraid, I do have to cheat a little here. Whilst I try to give an as honest account as possible, I cannot pretend to be a leading authority on any subject, nor do I have the money to access the genuine original materials – but I am not really sure that I need to in order to tell the same story convincingly.
However, cheating is really only there to help the message be understood. For example, in the first picture, (above) you will see me sitting in my kitchen with a few samples of what looks like chalybeate water. Chalybeate is actually crystal clear if taken from source, but it does contain quite a large amount of iron, which leaves an orange tinge in the glass. I filmed watered down Ironbru to colour the water slightly. I wanted to distinguish it from tap water and I am hopeful that using this commercial product it would even contain an element of iron!
Secondly, my kitchen is old fashioned, and no science lab – so to give it the feel of authenticity and help paint the picture of an old Victorian chemist’s lab, I added in post production a couple of period medical posters. Yes, they were not there when we filmed, but adding them afterwards gives the impression of a laboratory without me actually saying I am in one. Dramatic licence at work here, I think.
I also used a little computer graphics to create imagery of the original Pantiles and source of the spring water. We know from historical text it was surrounded by a shed and small fence and we are told a number of timber framed properties were built in close proximity before the current constructions were erected. I haven’t found any reference material for these early buildings so I have made an educated guess and the short animation is merely there to illustrate the descriptions.
The main aim of all this deceit, if one wants to call it that, is really to engage with the viewer, encourage people to either read further about the subject or visit the spring waters for themselves and make up their own minds.
The programme will be broadcast in the new year on the Community Channel. I make these programmes for free and as yet I do not gain an income from them. If you would like to help get these episodes produced and get to view the finished documentary before its first transmission, then please visit the website and make a small donation. You can find the Payal button on the right hand side. Thank you very much.
Hard to believe but in the south of England there was a terrible disaster – in fact, the worst avalanche in British history and it happened on the site where a pub stands as a reminder of this tragedy.
The Bald Explorer heads off to explore this tragic disaster in the Victorian era. He is in Lewes, in East Sussex. This town used to boast a number of splendid breweries, but now all have disappeared except Harvey’s. One of the pubs it supplies is the Snowdrop Inn where a terrible thing happened in 1836.
Hopton Castle in south Shropshire is a medieval tower house which thanks to the funding from the National Lottery the old ruins have greatly been preserved for future generations. The remains, a subject of the Channel Four TV programme Time Team is looked after by the Hopton Castle Preservation Trust.
Richard Vobes, aka The Bald Explorer meets up with local historian Tom Baker to learn about the story of the castle from his construction by Walter De Hopton to the dreadful and bloody siege during the English Civil War in 1644.
‘I have always been fascinated by medieval castles in England and Wales. We tend to think of these buildings always as being made from stone, but some of the early fortifications were in fact simply earth works and then later timber forts. After the motte and bailey castles were deemed to be easily destroyed with fire, bigger and more stronger defences were required. This is where the stone castle came into its own, although these were often attacked successfully by mining underneath the thick seemingly impenetrable walls.
Hopton Castle, although called as such is not really a castle in the true sense of the word. It is a tower house of square design. It wasn’t designed to withstand much of an assault, although put up a pretty good defence against the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. However, the siege that took place in 1644 ended up in tragedy with many deaths.
Back in 2010, when full of steroids, after an important eye operation, I travelled to the beautiful city of Exeter, in Devon. I took my camera and I made a short film about it. It was a bit simplistic and not really what I would call a Bald Explorer programme. However, that aside, it has proved quite popular on Youtube and I thought I would post it here on the BE website.
I am fascinated by towns, particularly market towns – hence my films about Lewes in East Sussex and Petworth in West Sussex, and hopefully many more to come, if I can find funding to make them.
Anyway, if you have never been and thinking of visiting this lovely west country city, then have a look at my short effort and enjoy the fabulous scenery and architecture. (And please excuse the puffed up fat face as the drugs cushion the important work of the eye surgeons.)