East Chiltington? - never heard of it
Zsolt Kerekes - July 16,
flashback - 15 years ago
it was summer
I was house hunting
you ever heard of a place called East Chiltington? - It was my brother in
law - Mark - on the phone. He's also a character in my story -
the Tree Troll - set in Clayton, near Ditchling. Beware of writers -
they'll steal any details from real life -
Already a great fan of Phil and Kirstie on
Location Location. My wife Janet and I had already sold our old farmhouse
in Baughurst in North
Hampshire - with a
date which had seemed long enough at the time of signing
contracts. Oodles of time to find a new house. But the generously allotted
span of atomic seconds to our completion date was inexorably trickling
out and we seemed to be getting nowhere.
I had already viewed
over 100 houses online and visited over 20 in real life - in the
self-imposed ideal travel arcs from my parents in Brighton and my late sister's
family in Clayton. Close enough to family - who were otherwise a tiring
weekly drive away - but not so close on the doorstep as to be a nuisance.
We had grown accustomed to living with views of fields and trees and
VERY quiet lanes. So we were super fussy about location. On size:- we were
more flexible - and were looking at anything from a
Wendy house upwards -
which woud also be compatible with our cats, goose and chickens.
East Chiltington? No. Never heard of it. It hasn't come up in any of my
Brother in law - I saw a "for sale" sign
on my bat walk at the weekend. Chiltington Lane. Look it up.
did. And - that's how I moved twice to East Chiltington.
- (it's not the local record BTW).
The first time we moved to
East Chiltington - without ever having heard of it before. We fell in love
with the quiet and natural messiness and mixed-uppedness of real country life.
It wasn't the house. Which we described as the "plastic house". Clad
in white boards. It's traditional in East Sussex - said the estate
agent. We learned to appreciate its rain defending comforts later. No. it
wasn't the house, It was the location and the setting. The garden had many
large oak trees and a stream flowing through it. And looking around the lanes -
our instincts said - the people around here really care.
second time we moved to East Chiltington - we
where it was. Having lived and worked here already 10 years. We right
sized. To the next house up the lane.
And so now - I know a lot more
about East Chiltington than I did at the beginning. But I'm still learning
things and discovering new hidden paths and fields and neighbours.
brings us to the present day...
the £ton versus East
I've been reporting and typing a lot (in
the past 6 months so far) about a recently arisen predicament in our locality -
in a series which I tentatively called - the Eton versus East Chiltington
chronicles. If you missed the start of the series and want to know how it began
and how we learned who the main characters are - and the early plot lines -
here Although you are probably aware of it already - by virtue of the
fact that you've arrived here.
New Town storyline
most important audience - as far as I was concerned - was people living in the
effected area and nearby parishes. So when I said that - the central
location of the story is taking part in East Chiltington - my readers knew
what I was talking about.
As the story expanded to the UK national
press - there was still a realistic prospect that by talking about "East
Sussex", "the South Downs", "Lewes" etc - and adding
some links - most readers might have enough of a hazy idea of where we talking
about to understand the key characteristics. And we were very lucky - as
residents - that other media people invested in creating videos which showed
what the area is like.
In June 2021 - I began talking about this
planning story overtly on my linkedin pages - and occasionally responding to
related posts by
Urbanise the Downs and
Rosie Pearson -
Co-Founder at the Community Planning Alliance.
Top of my mind in
these linkedin planning comments was the local angle Eton vs East
But - where is East Chiltington? And what makes
There's no easy way to fill that content gap. But I felt it
was important and respectful to do so - because most of my linkedin contacts
at that time had emerged from my past writing about the data storage and
memoryfication markets in the US and China. So - in the absence of anything
else I could reliably link to - I scribbled these words below in a comment on my
phone on July 2, 2021.
a description for linkedin readers far awayFor readers who
don't know East Chiltington it's because there's nothing much here and just
narrow single track roads which connect to other small villages which have
The main form of traffic is
cyclists (who cycle
10-20 miles from the nearest towns to enjoy the quiet and beauty here) and
horses (there are 4 local livery stables and I heard a few years ago it was
possible to ride on 30 miles of bridleway here without hitting a major road).
Otherwise the biggest local employer is a single
wedding venue and
the forge (here since the
16th century) which
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I'm hearing horses go past my window and pheasants
as I write this.
There is no unsatisfied reservoir of jobs or housing
here. Our local plan said that not a single new house could be built here to
protect the space and because there's no infrastructure.
The right to
choose to live in a rural community if you can do it sustainably with your work
should be a human right. This is one of the last unspoiled areas between
Brighton and London. During the covid lockdowns it was a place where residents
from nearby cities could legally come to exercise in the clean air.
Eton scheme aims to subvert the
local plan against residents' wishes to take advantage of flaws in the
system which will earn $3 million / acre for changing the zoning from
agricultural to housing for their 500 acre plot which they bought in the 1990s.
New legislation being discussed would make this carpet bagging
So it's a greed driven project which is already creating harm
and anxiety in a small community.
Intra-colonialization... if that's a
And that's all I was able to do at the time. Here are some more
relativistic connections which I wrote earlier for wrongthingwrongplace.com
East Chiltington is half in and half out of the South Downs National
Park. The 2 in and out halves bisected by the mapmakers' convenient
straight line of the lightly trafficked railway which connects Plumpton to
Lewes. However residents can easily cross the railway at several
official (offroad) footpath level crossings (and also a footbridge which
goes above the trains) to walk and visit their neighbours. We cross the
railway the same way you cross town roads. We don't have such roads. We don't
have pavements. We don't need them.
Chiltington is a place which
like a Saxon village in name - but true to its roots remains -
astonishingly still extant- a
dwellings in 4 square miles) handful of single track lanes, homesteads and
micro hamlets which have (with a few exceptions) been scattered around the
in the way you see them now since long before the Norman Conquest.
As a non nucleated village (with no buildings based centre) it retains the
look and feel of scarped downland settlements which had begun to disappear
elsewhere in the 14th century.
Where is it? On the northern side of
South Downs National Park and 5
miles west of the city of Lewes in
East Sussex. It's a 5
miles walk (or 11 miles drive) over the Downs from the Falmer campus of
I'm sorry that's all there is. I'm conscious that there are huge gaps
in this article which still need to be filled. In the meantime I'll hand you
over to some previously created links and resources.
other web sites
which talk about Chiltington Lane
Cattle at work - Hurst Barns Farm, East Chiltington - July 20, 2021. It was hot
and it was lovely to see this family chomping and resting in the shade in one
of my neighbour's fields as I was walking back that way.
here or on the image to get a higher quality picture.
the landscape assessment walks in East Chiltington
|What do you like in this
What makes you happy being here?
recognise the dogs?
Was it really that long ago?
Editor:- May 20, 2021 -
Published today - a new article - the landscape
assessment walks in East Chiltington - looks back at an event which
has particular relevance today - when we're thinking about what it is we're
trying to protect. ...read the article
May 10, 2021:- It's been 5 years since we
last saw posters like these in the lane. These have been sprouting up
like magic bean stalks all over the place at the weekend. ...read the