Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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2                                  THE INVIOLATE HILLS                          chap.
country cannot be too favourable we have done rightly in starting at Midhurst, even at the risk of a loss of enthusiasm in the concluding chapters. For although historically, socially, and architecturally north Sussex is as interesting as south Sussex, the crown of the county's scenery is the Downs, and its most fascinating districts are those which the Downs domi­nate. The farther we travel from the Downs and the sea the less unique are our surroundings. Many of the villages in the northern Weald, beautiful as they are, might equally well be in Kent or Surrey : a visitor suddenly alighting in their midst, say from a balloon, would be puzzled to name the county he was in ; but the Downs and their dependencies are essential Sussex. Hence a Sussex man in love with the Downs becomes less happy at every step northward.
One cause of the unique character of the Sussex Downs is their virginal security, their unassailable independence. They stand, a silent undiscovered country, between the seething plea­sure towns of the seaboard plain and the trim estates of the Weald. Londoners, for whom Sussex has a special attraction by reason of its proximity (Brighton's beach is the nearest to the capital in point of time), either pause north of the Downs, or rush through them in trains, on bicycles, or in carriages, to the sea. Houses there are among the Downs, it is true, but they are old-established, the homes of families that can remember no other homes. There is as yet no fashion for residences in these altitudes. Until that fashion sets in (and may it be far distant) the Downs will remain essential Sussex, and those that love them will exclaim with Mr. Kipling,
God gave all men all earth to love,
But since man's heart is small, Ordains for each one spot shall prove
Beloved over all. Each to his choice, and I rejoice
The lot has fallen to me In a fair ground—in a fair ground—
Yea, Sussex by the sea !
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