Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Day 3, Brightling and Bexhill

Two main targets today: a walk based around the neighbouring village Brightling, and a trip to see the De La Warr Pavilion in the seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea.

Day 3 Brightling hike

We picked the Brightling walk from one of our books because it took in a number of follies built by the local 18th century eccentric John ("Mad Jack") Fuller. As his nickname implies, Fuller was regarded by some as a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but he was something of a rebellious MP and a strong patron of the arts and sciences, of which he supported, among others, J.M.W. Turner and Michael Faraday.

Anyway, our hike began at Brightling church, in the graveyard of which is a Fuller's final resting place, a large pyramid mausoleum ...


The walk went on to take in two further follies belonging to Fuller, a temple folly that now forms the centrepiece of a sheep pasture, and a tower folly that can still be scaled for views of Brightling and its surrounds ...


Again, the weather was very much on our side, and the walk took us over fields and through woods, passing goat farms and even crossing (twice) a rumbling, covered conveyor belt snaking its way through Brightling's rolling landscape ...


We could hear this gently grumbling through the forest long before we could see it. Apparently, it serves a neighbourhood gypsum mine. It certainly provided a more industrial feature of interest to counterpoint the more classical follies of Fuller.

Eventually (9.9 km; 6.2 mi), the work circled back on itself and brought us back to Brightling's church and Fuller's pyramid. Although the graveyard was providing dining for some local sheep (which now appears a common management strategy in East Sussex), the total absence of a bench (I know, I know) forced us to look a bit further afield for a lunch spot.

Fortunately, our route to Bexhill-on-Sea took us through a number of small villages and we eventually found the lovely St. Lawrence Church on a hill in Catsfield ...


It wasn't the first church that we stopped at though - but it was the first one that hadn't been deconsecrated and turned into someone's home. C had got as far as sitting down and getting the sandwiches out before we spotted that our first church's "graveyard" was lacking in headstones but did have a washing line ... oops.

After lunch we headed down to the seafront at Bexhill-on-Sea, and visited (probably) the town's most famous attraction: the beautifully Art Deco De La Warr Pavilion ...


C had been wanting to visit this for years but we'd never quite made it far enough east (the A27 being pants). Although I like Art Deco, I've often found that famous buildings I've gone out of my way to find are somewhat disappointing when finally encountered in the flesh, so I wasn't in a huge rush to see the Pavilion. But I must admit that I was pretty impressed in the end. As well as being uber-stylish - with a cylindrical glass front that houses a spiral staircase and some dangling modernist sculpture - its recent refit has given it a real polish. We actually caught it inbetween exhibitions, but just as well really - the building was cool enough to justify wandering around it without trying to take in any art on top.

Unfortunately, Bexhill-on-Sea doesn't have a whole lot else to see (or, rather, nothing that we could see), so we headed for home after finishing our photoshoot of the Pavilion. On the way back we hit another church, Mountfield. Among other details, this had a great Millennium Window with a lovely modern detail ...


Full set of photographs available here.

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