Writing the introduction and captions for this photographic evocation of Sussex and the South Downs.
The images in this book show a cross-section of the extraordinary variety that makes up the South Downs, its seaboard and its hinterland. It takes us to the coast, with its brightly painted beach huts overlooking shingle shores, fetchingly ornate seaside piers, stripy deckchairs and towering chalk cliffs such as the Seven Sisters that make such a dramatic contrast from the densely developed shoreline. There are encounters too with the extraordinary range of building styles in the region, from the magnificence of the cathedrals at Winchester and Chichester to the understated charm of the local building styles, which feature tile-hanging, half timbering, brick, knapped flint, thatch and weatherboarding – barns, windmills, centuries-old pubs, medieval streets, Georgian townscapes, Victorian cottages and village churches.
And then by contrast are the Downs themselves, which somehow never manage to look the same from one mile to the next, from one season to another: waving wheat fields, gated tracks fringed by cow parsley, rippling grassy slopes flecked with gorse bushes, and sheep-nibbled pastures. It is no coincidence that during the Second World War, propaganda posters urging people to fight for Britain featured the South Downs landscape: it is a scene that somehow seems to conjure up the essence of rural England.
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