Friday, 1 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Beacons

On the night of Monday 4th June four thousand beacons will be lit across the UK to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Locally, there will be a beacon lit at the top of Ashbury Coombe at 10pm and another at White Horse Hill.

The lighting of beacons across the UK has a history spanning centuries. Used in the past as a means of communication and warning in times of war, the beacon chain has also become a sign of unity and celebration.

The records of the Ashbury estate make reference to the beacon built in 1588 to warn of the coming of the Spanish Armada. In those days there was an Armada beacon on Alfred's Castle hillfort, one in a long line stretching along the Ridgeway and south to the coast. In those days the men responsible for watching and waiting and for lighting the beacon if necessary lived at Red Barn. Although Red Barn Cottages have been demolished now they were occupied into the 20th century and for many years housed the gamekeepers who worked on the Ashdown estate, in particular the Jones family.

It is inspiring to think of the history of beacons along the Ridgeway, no doubt stretching back thoousands of years, and the way that the celebration on Monday night connects us to the past.


Minerva Black the shop keeping cat said...

I love the idea of the beacons - and cannot wait to see them! We are going up White Horse Hill.

Nicola Cornick said...

At least it looks as though it might be a nice day for the beacon lighting. It will be wonderful to see the beacon chain.