On Thursday our Lady Garden group visited Saddlescombe Farm nestled at the foot of Devils Dyke just outside Brighton. 'Coombe' is the Celtic word for valley.
This working farm is recorded in the Domesday Book. It was once owned by the Knight Templars for a 100 years who used the profits to keep the Pilgrim's way safe to Jerusalem. The Manor House, stables, cottages and farm buildings have been preserved beautifully from the 1800's and before with natural wooden beams, flint stone walls and rendering. Our afternoon tour in the sunshine was nurtured by lots of interesting information eg how oxen bring in bales on a cart through one set of doors and exit via a lower height doors in the farm building they used too make grain. Now a museum with original farming machines. Their vegetable garden has boxed hedging with an adjoining ancient fruit orchard.
We walked around the steep embankment of Newtimber Hill a chalk grassland where lots of sweet little violets were growing and other species can grow because this piece of land has never been cultivated with fertiliser. Cattle and sheep have grazed there for hundreds of years.
The newly converted learning centre has museum pieces of flint tools found on the farm and collated by NT volunteers. The lambing had begun with 22 lambs being born the night before. Open days for the public to see the lambs 1-2 and 8-9 April. www.camillaandroly.co.uk
post author: Angela McKay (volunteer)