We are staying in a very quiet part of East Sussex. All night, the silence was immaculate. Okay, the old dog did bark a little bit but his chat gradually vanished so that, when I woke up in the depths of the darkness, the night was bathed in blissful silence.
We woke up when we woke up and, while Mirinda did a bit of yoga facing the South Downs, I went for a short walk to the church for a reconnoitre of the churchyard.
The church was built shortly after Domesday (1086) probably on the site of a previous Saxon church. In Domesday there are three recorded. Three churches! Streat has hardly anything but a manor house and a few farms. Things must have changed a lot since the Normans arrived.
The church as it stands today was restored back in 1840 and 1850 and a bit more in 1882. There are some amazing stained-glass windows.
Something else that’s amazing is the cake cupboard outside where we’re staying.
There’s an episode of Shetland which features a cake fridge. It caused a bit of a stir back when it aired. It is situated in the middle of nowhere and solar powered, and operates on an honour system and the cake cupboard, here in Streat, is very similar. The cakes and slices (jams and marmalades) are supplied by Suzy’s Streat Food and, I can say on great authority, taste fantastic.
In fact, we bought a couple of fruit, nut and oat slices and sat looking at the South Downs with a cup of tea/coffee to accompany them. They were so good we didn’t notice the rain that gradually drifted over us.
Eventually, we had to get up and go, so we collected Max and headed into Ditchling.
There’s a lot of old buildings in Ditchling. The kind of buildings that we marvel at because of their tenacity to remain standing. The kind of building that Bob despairs over, suggesting that the company he used to own could fix all the doors and windows, making everything much straighter.
Above is Wings Place or, as some call it, Anne of Cleves House. While she never lived in it, it was one of the houses that Henry VIII handed out. Apparently he was very big on handing out buildings to people, in particular his various wives, while they remained in favour. There’s an excellent Wikipedia link on the building, here.
Something else Ditchling has, is the recommended Green Welly café where we decided to have a light lunch. Like virtually everyone else in Sussex. It’s a very popular place.
Mirinda had the soup of the day which includes half a ham sandwich. I wondered what they did with the other half. I guess it would go to the next person who ordered the soup only it did occur to me that if they had an odd number of customers ordering the soup, they’d end up with half a sandwich. Mind you, the bread used for the sandwich was pretty sizeable. It was more half a loaf, really.
Still, it was all delicious (I had a toasted ham and cheese, complete, sandwich) and we sat and watched the crowds coming and going. We eventually felt ready to explore the town.
There’s a museum in Ditchling. It’s called the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft and, as you approach it across the green, it doesn’t appear very big.
But don’t be misled. There is a big modern extension to the building above and it is currently holding an exhibition on Dame Vera Lynn who lived in Ditchling for the last forty years of her life. And it’s an excellent tribute to a life well lived.
There’s also many things to learn about her. For instance, she didn’t just sing. She was also a dab hand with a paintbrush. There’s a selection of her portraits on show as well as some of her plant studies.
She was also very handy with a needle and thread. During her theatre days, she would often be found embroidering various things between performances. She would often give needlework lessons to other performers during breaks.
But, of course, her unstinting work with the forces during the Second World War takes centre stage in the exhibition. Original letters requesting songs to cheer up sons, husbands, friends and the writers themselves, are presented in a glass case. One particular letter is from a chap who returned from serving in North Africa only to find his fiancé had dumped him for another while he was away. He asked Vera to sing a song for him.
It really was an excellent exhibition and I’m so glad we accidentally discovered it.
Back outside, we headed for the church for a look around, then into the White Horse for a drink.
Now, call me a bit of a complainer but I was not that happy with the service in the White Horse. I stood at the bar and the young woman asked what I’d like. I asked for a Malbec and a pint. She took hold of a bottle of Malbec while telling me the beer I’d requested was finished. I started to request a different beer when the phone rang and she answered it. That was it for our drinks as far as she was concerned.
As I said to Mirinda, I should have left at this stage. There are other pubs in Ditchling, after all. However, an older woman, obviously more invested in the customer experience, took over and poured both drinks for us. Mind you, I won’t be returning any time soon. As it was, we didn’t stay very long; drinking up and leaving was a pleasure.
Of course, by this time, we felt we needed a bit of a rest, so headed back to the Dairy for a well earned lie down. Or writing session in my case.
A little later, Mirinda went for a stroll along a public footpath in order to build up an appetite for dinner. She obviously didn’t walk far enough because our dinner, at The Thatched Inn, while delicious, was big enough for an American.
The service was excellent, as was the beer. I’d recommend the place for a good feed at reasonable prices and a very good customer experience. I’d definitely go to the Thatched Inn over the White Horse, any day.
Overall, an excellent day in East Sussex.