On Saturday 2nd February, Chichester Copywriter’s Katy visited Butser Ancient Farm to join others around an open-fire in celebration of Imbolc – a Celtic festival marking the start of spring. It seems that Katy wasn’t the only writer to enjoy the chalky hills of Hampshire, Rudyard Kipling, who was hugely inspired by the South Downs, had a soft spot for this particular settlement too.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon on the South Downs and Katy, along with around 50 other revellers, sat on stacks of hay in Butser’s ancient Round House and listened to songs, poetry and tales of folklore and old religions.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was watching a prehistoric, fire-lighting demonstration involving both flint and the bow and drill technique. This mesmerising demonstration was given by Jonathon Huet of Walk with Trees, and involved revelations about the different properties of plants and trees, specifically which are good for use as tinder and which are suitable to create a bow and drill. This was thought-provoking for Katy, who is currently writing a children’s story about nature in the woodland and a YA fantasy novel about trees.
Our West Sussex copywriter also very much enjoyed listening to stories of myth and legend about Merlin and King Arthur in the Round House. Previously, Katy has visited the Dinas Emrys area in Wales, which legend says was the setting of a famous exchange between the warlord Vortigern and a young Merlin. In Jonathon’s version of the stories, however, it was lovely to hear about the action taking place closer to home, namely in Winchester, Hampshire. Here, a large table top hanging known as the Winchester Round Table, thought to be created for an ancient Round Table tournament, can be found today.
Towards the end of the afternoon, Jonathon read aloud a beautiful poem by Rudyard Kipling who was greatly inspired by the contrasting landscapes of the South Downs:
I’m just in love with all these three,
The Weald and the Marsh and the Down countree,
Nor I don’t know which I love the most,
The Weald or the Marsh or the white Chalk coast.
Here is further evidence that the great poet, short-story writer and novelist was enamoured with Chichester Copywriter’s home turf – you’ll notice that Butser even gets a special mention:
The Run of the Downs
By Rudyard Kipling
The Weald is good, the Downs are best-
I’ll give you the run of ’em, East to West.
Beachy Head and Winddoor Hill,
They were once and they are still.
Firle Mount Caburn and Mount Harry
Go back as far as sums ‘ll carry.
Ditchling Beacon and Chanctonbury Ring
They have looked on many a thing,
And what those two have missed between ’em
I reckon Truleigh Hill has seen ’em.
Highden, Bignor and Duncton Down
Knew Old England before the Crown.
Linch Down, Treyford and Sunwood
Knew Old England before the Flood;
And when you end on the Hampshire side-
Butser’s old as Time and Tide.
The Downs are sheep, the Weald is corn,
You be glad you are Sussex born!
Katy bought one of Jonathon’s Tree Tales of Ireland CDs and is looking forward to hearing some more of his stories at home. For more information about storytelling and woodland walks and talks with Walk with Trees, please contact Jonathon directly. For more information about Chichester Copywriter’s creative copywriting, SEO website copywriting or proofreading services, please contact Katy today.
Do you too want to feel inspired by the rolling South Downs and the beauty of Chichester Harbour? Why not join Chichester Copywriter in April for the Writers’ Retreat? As well as workshops and talks with published authors you will get the chance to put to paper in this stunning location, with views across the water towards the Sussex hills. Find out more about the Writers’ Retreat here or contact Katy on 01243 533421 for details.