The Story of a Sussex Landmark
Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs has been an iconic landmark for Sussex inhabitants and visitors for over two hundred years. However, the ring of trees, most of which were destroyed by the great storm of 1987 and replanted in 1990, covers another ring, the c. 750 BC (Late Bronze Age) earthwork, or hillfort.This earlier Ring, which contains the remains of a Romano-Celtic and Romano-British temple complex, has a very special atmosphere that draws people to it. Set within a much older landscape, it also attracted the sixteen-year-old Charles Goringof Wiston House, who planted his beeches and other trees around the perimeter in 1760, ‘on some auspicious day’, as his poem of 1828 reveals. This richly illustrated talk reveals the history of the area, a murder on the hill in 1330, the tree species involved over the centuries and a spate of literary outpourings about Chanctonbury Ring by nineteenth and twentieth century novelists, poets and travel writers.
WISTON HOUSE, SUSSEX & Sir Thomas Sherley (c.1542 – 1612)
The extraordinary story of its Elizabethan owner, Sir Thomas Sherley, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1573. His raised social status soon had him thinking about a new stone house to replace the medieval timber-framed home of his ancestors. Sherley was appointed Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex for a year in 1577, when he was about 35 years of age, and he also became a very fair local Justice of the Peace. Ten years later he was appointed Treasurer-at-War in the Netherlands, reckoned to be the most lucrative in the army due to the ‘perks’
available. Fraud and corruption were rife and Sherley was spending at a great rate,
particularly on luxurious possessions for his newly-built house. The story of his fall from grace is a fascinating one that will be illustrated with photographs of Wiston House, portraits and contemporary quotations. As a Member of Parliament for Steyning in 1604, Sir Thomas Sherley played a role in constitutional history, and this, unfortunately, has echoes in the behaviour of some of our Members of Parliament in
the present century.