Friday, 31 August 2012
The A-Z of Ashdown
First there is Ashdown - the physical location, the "down covered in ash trees" which features in the Anglo-Saxon records as the generic name for the entire line of the Downs. This was the site of the Battle of Ashdown and local tradition places the battle on the land between Alfred's Castle and the Bronze Age Barrows to the south (more of them when we get to B!)
Then there is Ashdown House itself and Alfred's Castle, the Iron Age settlement. There is also the historic village of Ashbury, of which Ashdown became the "big house" in 1662. Ashbury has its own 15th century manor house, an ancient church, parts of which go back to the Norman period, and lots of other interesting historical features. It definitely deserves a blog piece.
interlocking landing strip can apparently be seen in the garden of Old Forge in Ashbury. British, American and Canadian troops were stationed at Ashdown (more on them when we reach W!) and they flew Spitfires and Mustangs out of the airfield (this is attested to by the paintings of Spitfires and Mustangs that were found on the walls of the drawing room after the troops had left. There was also a lifesize painting of Rita Hayworth!) There was a canteen at Red Barn and some of the crockery is still being dug up out of the fields whenever they are ploughed.
Ashbury Living History Project. We don't have much written information on the role of the Ashdown airfield so if anyone knows anything of Ashdown's wartime history, please get in touch!