Last year Simon over at Stuck-in-a-Book lent me his copy of ‘Tea is so Intoxicating’ by Mary Essex which is one of several pen names of romantic novelist (and my brother-in-law’s Godmother!) Ursula Bloom.
One thing I especially loved about the book was the choice of chapter headings. Shall I quote them all here?
1. Tea for Two,and Two for Tea
2. I do like a Nice Cup of Tea
3. For all the Tea in China
4. The Cups that Cheer but not Inebriate
5. Everything Stops for Tea
6. Cold Tea may be Endured, but not Cold Looks (Japanese Proverb)
7. Tea and Scandal
Written in 1950 it is basically the story of a London couple who set up a Tea Garden in the South of England but the marriage is not a success.
Anyway, when Fran told me that Tea Gardens were a particular feature of the East Sussex countryside around Laughton I knew, should the weather remain sympathetic, that I would have to take my Swiss friends to one of these minor Sussex institutions. So, after the walk on Sunday at Firle Beacon and the visit to Firle village we headed for Litlington Tea Garden.
In the Tea Garden – there are a few sheltered places should the weather turn inclement
We were in luck – the day remained warm and dry. We ordered cucumber sandwiches to be followed by scones and jam and accompanied by plenty of tea.
From Litlington it was just a short drive to Wilmington. Here is the famous Long Man carved into the chalk hillside many centuries ago. Here also is Wilmington Priory another Landmark Trust property.
Wilmington Long Man
After tea and scones and jam we were ready for a little exercise so parked up in the small car park on the edge of Wilmington and walked about the half mile or so to the bottom of the hillside upon which he is marked out. The nearer you get to him the less of him there is to see. Still, it was a nice walk.
Approaching the Long Man
We Reach The Long Man
“The enigmatic Long Man of Wilmington attracts many theories but provides little evidence to back them up. Now outlined in stone, he was formerly carved in the chalk of the hill. His first definite mention was as late as 1710, but the monument was old then. A picture drawn by bored monks, commemoration of the Saxon conquest of Pevensey, a Roman soldier or Neolithic god opening the gates of dawn. The ‘Long Man asking the traveller – like the Sphinx – to solve the dark mystery of its own origins’.” [Wealden Walks]
“The remains of a once highly regarded Benedictine Priory Wilmington Priory was a cell of the Benedictine Abbey at Grestain in Normandy. It was never a conventional priory with cloister and chapter, the monks prayed in the adjoining parish church where the thousand-year-old yews are testimony to the age of the site. The Priory has been added to and altered in every age and some of it has been lost to ruin and decay, but what is left shows how highly it was once regarded.” [Landmark Trust website]
Rear of Wilmington Priory
The Ruined Priory
Wilmington Priory Gardens
The 1,000 Year Old Yew Tree in the Churchyard