Boundary walk follows ancient custom

Manor Cottage Heritage Centre in Southwick Street, Southwick ENGSUS00320130823115057
Manor Cottage Heritage Centre in Southwick Street, Southwick ENGSUS00320130823115057

THE ancient custom of Beating the Bounds will take place in Southwick on Rogation Sunday.

Local historian Nigel Divers will lead the guided walk for the Southwick Society, following as closely as practicable the ancient boundaries of the town.

Walk leader Nigel Divers

Walk leader Nigel Divers

He will be following in the footsteps of his father, Captain Basil Divers, who revived the custom in Southwick in the 1970s, when he was chairman of Southwick Urban District Council.

The circular walk starts at the Manor Cottage Heritage Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick, at 2pm on May 10.

Mr Divers said: “This is a walk into Southwick’s history and a reminder of some of the town’s hidden gems.

“Many people think of Southwick as only residential and industrial and do not realise how much of the area is part of the beautiful South Downs National Park.

Beating the Bounds began in Saxon times to help people to remember and recognise the extent of their communities and it can still help us to appreciate our heritage today

Local historian Nigel Divers

“Beating the Bounds began in Saxon times to help people to remember and recognise the extent of their communities and it can still help us to appreciate our heritage today.”

Starting out along Albion Street, the route follows Kingston Lane to the Downs and then the boundary footpath back to Southwick Canal. Along the way, Mr Divers will tell the history of sites along the route.

These include the ancient Sarsen Stone, Rest and be Thankful, which was once built into the churchyard wall and is now a boundary marker on the Downs.

Among others are the old coach road across the Downs, Cold War Royal Observer Corps post, Romano-British settlement at Thundersbarrow, 19th century shipyards and D-Day preparations.

Mr Divers will also tell the stories of John Pell, the 17th century diplomat and mathematician who invented the division sign used in mathematics, and Clara Butt, the seaman’s daughter who became a world-famous singer.

He said: “The walk is open to everybody and is expected to take about three and a half hours, depending upon the composition of the group. The walk follows public paths and roads and open access land on the Downs. Some of the circular walk takes place in the town and some in countryside.

“There is no charge for taking part in the walk but the Society will be inviting donations towards the cost of up keeping the Manor Cottage.”