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Cowdray House Opening 2007

These photographs were taken when Cowdray House was formally opened to the public on Saturday 31st March 2007: there was a period costume parade in the ruins of the building. The procession made its way through the town of Midhurst, and on to the ruins: there, in the grounds the town saw Queen Elizabeth 1st  and many re-enactments and tournaments.

Cowdray Ruins 2007 - Medieval Re-enactments

Cowdray Ruins 2007 Medieval Re-enactments

Cowdray Ruins 2007 Medieval Re-enactments

Cowdray Ruins 2007 Medieval -Re-enactments

‘STONE PILLOW’ – a local refuge for the HOMELESS at Christmas.

‘STONE PILLOW’ – a local refuge for the HOMELESS at Christmas. To this charity I will donate the sum of :- £2 – 50p for every one of my ‘City Streets to Sussex Lanes’ books that I sell…WHY?

 Because, when I was just eight years old my family were homeless – it was a week before Christmas, and we, at the time, slept rough on a south coast beach.

My book – ‘City Streets to Sussex Lanes,’ mentions those difficult times. The following is a short excerpt taken from that book:-

 “ –We slipped down a dozen steps to the gloom of the beach walkway and there found shelter from the icy wind in an arched alcove. Settling down for the night on the stone floor, I snuggled close to the bosom of my parent, a coat shielding my back from the December tempest that whistled through the black gaping entrance.

In those dark hours the cold concrete floor rose up and gnawed into the very bones of my body, while the damp, air cloaked my exposed frame saturating it in freezing beads. I shivered uncontrollably, slept fitfully; the incessant scraping of shingles, the pounding of waves on the shore, ever present in my conscious moments.

The harshness of that night cut deep into my mind and my soul. For in later life, and even now, whenever I see a man of the road, I see a fellow sufferer and dig into my pocket, to pass him a few coins in memory of that dreadful night. – ”

Signed copies of – ‘City Streets to Sussex Lanes,’ costs £8 – 50p direct from my website:- Free postage in UK only.

BBC Radio & Magazine book reviews, can also be found on my website.

city streets

My Daily Journal of Sussex Rambles

For thirty years, I have kept a daily journal of my Sussex rambles. And it is extracts from this set of diaries that I would like to share.

A Sussex Snow  Scene
A Sussex Snow Scene

January 1987

1987 – 2nd January – [Stoughton] We went for a walk over by the Woodman’s cottage: wandered through the woods [Lordington Copse] to the far side, then out to a small patch of wasteland: there we found an old shepherds hut. Hazel catkins are out: teasels abound in this acre of ragged grassland – the undergrowth – thick as a jungle.

1987 – 15th January – [Stoughton] We took a rather treacherous drive over towards Racton the roads snowbound all the way – hedgerows covered by drifts five to six feet high – all most picturesque. Wind still bitter cold.

1987 – 16th January – [Compton, West Sussex] Not so cold today – had no more snow. We went over to Compton. Beautiful snowdrifts between Stoughton and Marden: milk lorry stuck in snow. We climbed to the top of Compton Hill – deep drifts up there.

1987 – 8th August – [Treyford.] We set off on our walk from The Royal Oak, at Hooksway: found lots of flowers: saw an adder; some large puffballs in a field; also pyramid orchids; harebells and scabious.
Walked by Philliswood Farm, then on past Buriton Farm, and back towards The Royal Oak. It was late afternoon by the time we got back there: the old pub was closed – all was quiet. Even the noise of traffic, I noticed, could not reach this tiny, hidden hamlet. A lovely ramble today – though the weather was cloudy.

fossalised mullusc, along with other bits that I have found when out walking – old ‘discarded’ Victorian clay pipes etc

1987 – 20th August – [Harting.] Went for a walk over to Hucksholt Farm, and along the path to Ladyholt; then on and round towards Eckensfield.
From here, we wandered on over to Compton Down: a whole host of scabious and harebells – a perfect picture in the downland grass. Found, in a ploughed field on the crest of the hill, several well preserved, ‘shepherds crowns’ [fossilised mollusc]. Saw 3 deer about 10 feet away.
Very warm sunny day.

Photographs & Diary extracts – by David Johnston.
Copyright © David Johnston – Sussex Countryside Photography.

My Passion for the Countryside Unveiled…

It was in 1987, when I first decided to make a photographic record of the Sussex countryside.  My wife and I, would set out a every opportunity we could, to walk, and enjoy the field paths and country lanes of our rural county.  And on those nomadic wanderings, I always found something to photograph – the numerous animals, birds, bees, reptiles, flowers, (including rare orchids) insects, butterflies, the beauty of the landscapes and much more.  I also photographed many of the interesting old buildings we discovered; and old shepherd huts; redundant farm machinery; and in fact, any curious artefacts we came across.  Then there are the events that happened over those years – the great storm of 1987, and the change it made to the countryside that we knew so well – also the floods; the snow storms – and the weather – all this, and much more I recorded on film – a selection of which are shown through my website.