Saturday, July 6, 2019

Firle ~ South Downs ~ England

We’d been travelling the roads of The South Downs in England and after finding the Berwick Church we moved onto visit Firle.  This historic village was here in very early days then became more permanent by the 15th century and has been here ever since.   

Wisteria in Firle
The village is basically a cul-de-sac lined with homes that have been here for a very long time.  The entrance to the village has a large parking lot in the trees and once we walked from there, this walkway with hanging wisteria introduced us to Firle. 

Vintage sign and plant shop
Other than residents’ modern vehicles parked on these streets, it feels like we are once again taken back in time. The signs are old carved wooden signs, something we would never see at home and that add to the feel of history.  Firle Place, located down this road has been the home of the Gage family for over 500 years and is a great location available for special events. 

Ginko Biloba tree
The flint cottages and walls, most built back in the early centuries still stand here today.  We wandered down this road and saw a very large Ginko Biloba tree.  Had it not shown printed information at the flint wall, we’d not have known what kind it was.  It is over 150 years old and the story tells the origin of the tree. 

Sights in village of  Firle
Firle was a thriving self-supporting village during the early centuries with a bigger population than it has these days and had all the trades necessary to take care of the villagers.  One of the more famous residents was Virginia Woolf, a famous author of her day and one who has been the subject of plays, novels and films.  She died here in 1941. 

Signs of history
This was a rather unusual way to park bikes and it is permanent.  It took a few minutes but we think it might be there to prevent cars parking on this side of the street. The streets are narrow and it takes very little to create problems.

Another puzzle to ponder.  These steps sit against a commercial building so we were thinking it may have been stairs to help the ladies get into the horse drawn buggy ‘back then’. 

We assumed this red Citroen may have once been for delivery but now appears to be more like a private travel van.  This is only a guess but I would suggest this van is one of a kind. 

St Peters Church
We couldn’t come to Firle without visiting St. Peters Church.  This church was originally built in the 12th century then has been rebuilt and added to over the centuries since.   Vanessa Bell, her son Quentin Bell and Duncan Grant were buried here.  They were the artists to paint the murals in Berwick Church. 

Thank-you tree
St. Peters is a “Garden Church” which means they wish to “heal our relationship with all that lives on this planet”.  They ask you to take a ribbon, write the name of your favorite bird, animal or butterfly and tie it on the “Thank-you” tree.  Paying a small donation for this ribbon will help do the work of the church.

Preserved from old bell tower
The 17th century bells were needing replacing so the Bell Foundry that had made the original bells melted the damaged ones in 2007 and made new.  The timber of the old bell frame was in very bad shape also so the headstock and clapper were preserved and put on this display frame. 

Alabaster Effigy

Sir John Gage (1479-1556) was given manorial rights in 1501 and the Gage family has been a part of Firle ever since.  He and his wife Philippa are represented in this alabaster effigy, erected in 1595 in what was once the original stone chapel and is now part of the St. Peters church, called the Gage chapel.


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