South Downs Memoir of Sylvia Taylor
Sylvia lives in London, but she and her family have associations with the South Downs going back to her childhood.
I go back to 1966 when I was 12 years old. My Dad had met a nice chap on one of his walks in Sussex – they would go out walking together and became great friends – that’s how we were introduced to the Sussex Downs.
We joined as members of the Society of Sussex Downsmen, as it was then called. The people we knew were Colonel Jefferies, who I believe lives in Amberley? And Miss Murray who got things done!! There was Mrs Bobbie Andrews and her family. We met so many people when we joined. Also the London group. We would do the gruelling walk from Buriton to Eastbourne, ‘The Easter Walk.’ I managed to complete it one year – I was 15 then. My Dad led a walk and I helped keep up the rear. It was from Hove to Shoreham I think, in 1970 or 1971. We would stay at The Monk’s Rest in Jevington (my second home) now called the Hungry Monk but now a private residence. I have amazing memories of those times.
Now I often go to Arundel Park which is nice and wild. When I married Steve (now in a care home) I took him and the family often to the Downs. We would walk from Steyning to Amberley and my feet were falling off! Then I led a sponsored walk with my church from Southease to Alfriston. There were only six of us. We raised £200. Polegate was a favourite place and I actually secured a flat there but it never came to fruition – so back to London went I.
We used to go annually to Selsey – which is a quaint place. We wanted to move there but that also never happened. I am surprised that I never moved to Sussex – I seem to get a pull to get back to London, where I have always lived. We also stayed in my sister’s caravan at Pagham.
I have never known such a wild beautiful isolated place like the South Downs – it’s Heaven to me with its ancient grounds, forests and whale-backed hills, that go on forever
I hope the work of the Society succeeds in preserving the Downs. We mustn’t allow developers to ruin such a beautiful place. I am 67 now and ageing quite quickly – but still active. I’ looking around sites of London at present until I find a small place in Sussex and hopefully help the Society with their arduous task of protecting our heritage South Downs.