Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Unspoilt England

Ashdown House is in the press again, this time featuring in a list from Candida Lycett Green of the places she loves in England. In her list Candida comments that "Ashdown’s remote downland setting stirs the soul as much as the chalk-white perfection of its architecture." Her article in the Times Online explains in lyrical language the appeal of the unspoilt places that can still be found in this country and describes the romance that thousands of years of history lends to different sites.

Many of the people who work at Ashdown Park or visit the house and estate recognise and understand that it is a very special place. They feel the spirit of the place. From the Bronze Age barrows on the nearby ridge, to the Iron Age hillfort of Alfred's Castle, from the sarsen stones linked by legend to Merlin to the paths through the medieval deer park, from the weathercock on the hill to the little white "palace" at its foot, there is a timeline of thousands of years of history at Ashdown Park that is recorded in the barrows, buildings, holloways and stones that men have placed here down the centuries.

As Candida Lycett Green also comments, these days you sometimes have to dig deep to find unspoilt England. Around here it can sometimes be almost obliterated beneath the bags of litter that people leave on the Ridgeway after a rave at the full moon, no doubt expecting that the mysterious tidy fairies will spirit their rubbish away. Or it can be threatened by the crop circles that appear in the local fields when those pesky "aliens" create something extraordinary without thinking that maybe in the process they are destroying something equally valuable. At times like that it is good to be able to dig deep and connect with the spirit of the place, to stand on the hills above Ashdown Park in a keen breeze and to feel "the continuance of things."

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