Buxted Park

Did you know that Buxted wasn’t always where it is now. It moved! This happened in the 1830s and had to do ‘With the lords of Buxted Park. The present house in the park was built in 1725, with the village nearby. Lord Liverpool, who owned the place from 1814 onwards, thought it was too near to the village and wanted to enlarge his garden, following the fashion of the time. His solution was as simple as it was radical: the village was moved to its present position outside the grounds. Only St Margaret’s Church remains and can be reached through the park gate next to Hogge House. Moving a village for the sake of a landscape garden is not unique: the loveliest example is Milton Abbas in Dorset and Parham in West Sussex, where something similar happened. Buxted Park House itself saw many famous when it was still a private house. In 1940 it was gutted by fire and the top story was never replaced. The grounds beyond the customary ha-ha cover 312 acres, with two lakes.

Basil Ionides

During the Second World War, the Royal Society of Arts and its valuable library of books and records, was housed in Buxted Park, by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. lonides. Buxted Park mansion was burnt down in 1940 but re-built by Basil lonides. In its new form it was the subject of an article in Country Life magazine, lavishly illustrated in colour and monochrome. The present house was visited by royalty on many occasions with Queen Mary frequently gracing the Park with her presence, as wel as Princess Margaret, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, the Earl of Athlone and his wife Princess Alice. It was also visited by the world famous cellist, Madame Suggia, and the equally great pianist, Harold Samuel, the finest exponent of the music of Bach of this century.

Beating the bounds

Another sad loss is the custom of Beating the Bounds on Ascension Day. As early as the 8th century, parishes had processions in which the priest went round, noting and confirming the boundaries by striking certain points with rods and sometimes beating boys with willow wands to make them remember. Scriptures were read at places like a Gospel Oak. It was a community festival and part of the so called Rogation Days – the three days before Ascension Day on which favours were asked from various saints. Cross Days was another term – crosses were also carried round the parish boundaries. After the Reformation, when processions were officially banned, the festivities dwindled to just ‘beating the bounds’ on Ascension Day. Before good maps, this was of course, all very useful. Recent attempts to revive the old custom have often not been taken seriously.