Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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124
LEONARDSLEE
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To take train to Faygate and walk from that spot is the simplest way, although more interesting is it perhaps to come to Faygate at the end of the day, and, gaining permission to climb the Beacon Tower on the hill, in the Holmbush estate, retrace one's steps in vision from its summit. In this case one would walk from Horsham to Lower Beeding, then strike north over Plummer's Plain. This route leads by Coolhurst and through Manning Heath, just beyond which, by following the south, that runs for a mile, one could see Nuthurst. Lower Beeding is not in itself interesting; but close at hand is Leonardslee, the seat of Sir Edmund Loder, which is one of the most satisfying estates in the county. North and south runs a deep ravine, on the one side richly wooded, and on the other, the west, planted with all acclimatisable varieties of Alpine plants and flowering shrubs. The chain of ponds at the bottom of the ravine forms one of the principal sources of the Adur. In an enclosure among the woods the kangaroo has been acclimatised; and beavers are given all law.
North of Plummer's Plain, in a hollow, are two immense ponds, Hammer Pond and Hawkin's Pond, our first reminder that we are in the old iron country. St. Leonard's Forest, and all the forests on this the forest ridge of Sussex, were of course maintained to supply wood with which to feed the furnaces of the iron masters—just as the overflow of these ponds was trained to move the machinery of the hammers for the breaking of the iron stone. The enormous consump­tion of wood in the iron foundries was a calamity seriously viewed by many observers, among them Michael Drayton, of the Poly Olbion, who was, however, distressed less as a political economist than as the friend of the wood nymphs driven by the encroaching and devastating foundrymen from their native sanctuaries to the inhospitable Downs. Thus he writes, illustrating Lamb's criticism of him that in this work he " has animated hills and streams with life and passion above the dreams of old mythology " :—
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