SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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of great value in the fertilization of the gault. This latter forms an enormous moist ditch or gutter at the foot of the escarpment, and from the farmer's point of view is essentially bad land, requiring many tons of marl to be mixed with it before this most difficult of all clays becomes fertile. Between the chalk and the gault clay is a very narrow band of upper greensand, only occasionally noticeable in the southern range, but strongly marked in the North Downs.
"The chalk is our landscape and our proper habitation. The chalk gave us our first refuge in war by permitting those vast encampments on the summits. The chalk filtered our drink for us and built up our strong bones; it was the height from the slopes of which our villages, standing in a clear air, could watch the sea or the plain; we carved it—when it was hard enough; it holds our first ornaments; our clear streams run over it; the shapes and curves it takes and the kind of close rough grass it bears (an especial grass for sheep) are the cloak of our counties; its lonely breadths delight us when the white clouds and the necks move over them together; where the waves break it into cliffs, they are characteristic of our shores, and through its thin coat of whitish mould go the thirsty roots of our three trees—the beech, the holly, and the yew. For the clay and the sand might be deserted or flooded and the South Country would still remain, but if the Chalk Hills were taken away we might as well be in the Midlands."
(Hilaire Belloc: The Old Road.)
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