A wonderful local, pre Christmas walk – making the most of the mild weather we have had this winter. A beautiful misty start, but the curtain of damp haze soon lifted to reveal bright Autumn golds in the woods, and reassuringly wide views across fields. Boots recommended in winter.
Set off from The Queens Head pub; a great place to finish, too! If you’re stopping for a drink / lunch, there’s a reasonable car park. Otherwise, some on street parking outside the village store or on the occasional side road. The route takes in a small part of the West Sussex literary trail. Opened in 2007, the 55 mile linear route connects Horsham, working South West, to Chichester.
Up a muddy path, just off the village high street, you’ll find Muntham House School, passing through a slice of its 23 acre grounds. Now a boarding and day school for boys with Autism, ADHD and other SEN, Muntham House is housed in an impressive building.
The pathway leads on through inviting woodland gates, alongside pastures, and eventually to the little churchyard in the village of Itchingfield. Then past a wonderfully bizarre home, with a surprisingly tropical looking garden, ponds and idiosyncratic statues…
The route passes by Elmhurst Farm, Slinfold. Now a poultry supplier, selling a wonderfully wide range of chicken breeds for home laying, the Farm is also home to a picturesque few, old style shepherds huts. They look like the original versions, with chilling tin walls and roof; tiny in size compared to modern day boutique, no expense spared type abodes, for luxury stays away from home!
St Nicholas’ church in Itchingfield is somewhat austere, but beautiful because of that. Its 15th Century bell tower is reminiscent in appearance, from afar, to that at nearby Newdigate. The church yard houses a tiny timber framed 16th Century Priest’s House; disused as a home since around 1860, and so modest in comparison to the typical vicarage, which often seems to have been the grandest home in the village!
“Once again St. Nicholas Day
Has even come to our hideaway;
It won’t be quite as fun, I fear,
As the happy day we had last year.
Then we were hopeful, no reason to doubt
That optimism would win the bout,
And by the time this year came round,
We’d be free, and safe and sound.
Still, let’s not forget it’s St. Nicholas Day,
Though we’ve nothing left to give away.
We’ll have to find something else to do:
So everyone please look in their shoe!“Simple pleasures recorded as Anne Frank remembered Christmas celebrations in what must have been the most terrifyingly difficult year. She tried to bring some levity by writing verses for family members, which she hid in shoes to be pulled out of a laundry basket and ‘opened’.
– The Diary of Anne Frank.