What does an African feminist writer do in Brighton & Hove on a Sunday afternoon?
Well a friend and I packed a picnic and took a drive through the English countryside out of Dichling taking the B2116 through Albourne and Henfiled towards Steyning. Along the route were lots of cows, horses, sheep and adorable English Inns and tea houses which to a visiting city dwelling African were all quite a delight to behold.
As a beer connoisseur I just had to stop at a local wine shop and buy some local beer. They have incredibly quaint names like ‘Old Knuckers’, ‘Sunburst’ and ‘Honey Dew’. The Sunburst was quite good and as refreshing as it promised to be. Brewed by Dark Star Brewery in Partridge Green where you can book a guided tour. This you must book online first tough, one disadvantage of spontaneous excursions.
Just before Steyning we came upon Bramber Castle built by William de Braose First Lord of Bramber Castle in 1070 during the reign of the Norman King William the Conqueror. It sounds grander than it looks, just a pile of old stone work really but St. Nicholas Church which he also built around the same is still in use.
The castle grounds are rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of William Braose III’s children who were starved to death with their mother, Maud de St. Valery at Windsor castle in 1210 on the orders of King John who was jealous of his popularity. This act of cruelty encouraged the Barons to force the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.
I didn’t see the child ghosts but I could have sworn I heard the Lady Maud weeping the loss of her home and family. Couldn’t help but think of the women that history ignores, surely she didn’t just sit by and let tragedy befall her household but who tells her story? The male line of the Braose family died out in the 14th century and no one bothered to record what happened to the women heirs.
A short drive away in Bramber village is St. Mary’s House an enchanting 15th century house that Elizabeth I and Charles II visited during their reigns. The entire village of Bramber where its located reeks of history. As does Steyning, the entire county is a historic site. Definitely worth a visit.
We drove back through Devil’s Dyke which has spectacular views and just over the top of the hill is the Brighton and Hove Golf Club. The views from the club car park are amazing, I fancied that I could see the French coast line just across the English Channel. I’m sure on a clear day maybe I could.
I couldn’t help feeling a touch sad tough, at our rather dismissive and nonchalant attitude to history in Nigeria. At the same time I’m more deeply committed to preserving such of our history as I can personally. Back to the Agwubuo chronicles!