Bodle Street Bollywood

On a cold, foggy night in December we brought a splash of colour to Bodle Street Green with an evening of (socially distanced) Bollywood dance. Visualising an exotic setting is a great distraction from the stresses of current times, and moving with the rhythms of wonderful film music is both enjoyable and beneficial for our wellbeing. The idea of these workshops is to have fun, not to worry about getting every detail right – feeling more like a party, rather than worrying that the Strictly judges are watching!

In India, there is an ancient tradition of storytelling as well as a rich culture of festivals incorporating song and dance. The Bollywood film industry – B standing for Bombay, modern day Mumbai – is the biggest in the world, producing around three times as many films as Hollywood. Plots are epic, melodramatic, bold and colourful which the dancing reflects, so this is a great chance for us to really let our hair down and have fun.

Many hand positions used in both dance and yoga have connections with Indian Classical dance traditions; in dance routines they can add to the art of storytelling or simply reflect patterns in the music. These movements of the hands and wrists also offer physical benefits and can help to counter the effects of using computer keyboards, or other tasks involving repetitive movements. Here is a little exercise to try:

1. Start with both hands just below chest level, palms up, one cradling the other; and then begin to make gentle circles with the wrists, taking one hand up towards the sky and the other down towards the floor, creating a ‘Lotus’ hand shape: little finger curling in towards the palm, followed by the ring finger – as if you are preparing to screw in a lightbulb with the top hand as it arrives up there!

2. Then make wrist curls all the way back again and continue to swap sides – with the opposite hand moving up, and the other moving down.

3. Follow this by bringing palms together in front of the chest, fingers and thumbs lined up. Take a deep breath in and send hands up overhead (keeping the prayer position), look up at your thumbs and smile, then as you breathe out, lower the hands back down, thumbs in front of the chest. Have a go at repeating and fitting all of this in time with some music – enjoy!
Safia Bowley

Leeds United….Blessing or Curse

Those of you who know me will probably realise that I have a particular affection (or maybe affliction) for Leeds United.  Many would rightly put this odd interest down to my northern roots but there is a little more to it than mere geography.

My adventure with Leeds started over fifty years ago when for some bizarre reason my sister’s nameless boyfriend offered to take us to a match at Elland Road, Leeds. It’s fair to say neither of us had a clue what we were letting ourselves in for.

With the advent of the Premier league and wall to wall TV coverage it is easy to forget that football in the late sixties was a very different animal to the prawn sandwiches version served up at the Emirates (Arsenal’s new ground).  When we arrived at the stadium on August 28th 1968 prior to the evening match against Sunderland, Elland Road was a primitive cauldron of noise and atmosphere. The ground comprised of four stands in various stages of disrepair. Behind the goal, where the die hard supporters gathered, was the Spion Kop, a relatively new, entirely concrete and steel construction which owed its architectural heritage to an East German prison. Known also as “The Gelderd End” this is where the bulk of the vocal support to the team emanated from.  Opposite the Gelderd End was the charmingly named “Scratching Shed”.  I have no idea why it was so called. I can’t imagine the reason was in any way pleasant. With its corrugated iron roof, it bore a strong resemblance to a cattle barn and appropriately this is where the away supporters were incarcerated.  Both ends of the ground were terraced, accommodating standing supporters only.

So it was that the three of us clambered up the steep banking in the Spion Kop attempting, in my case, to get any sort of view of the pitch which I was led to believe was some way beneath us. It appeared that the nameless boyfriend knew exactly where he was going and my sister and I were left to find our way as best we could.  Having reached what was deemed to be a suitable vantage point ( I could see one corner flag) we settled in for the game. What initially had been a relatively unpopulated area, magically became a surging mass of people within 30 seconds of kick off. 

This did have the benefit that I was lifted off the ground and actually got a decent view of the pitch for a while. I can’t be certain but I suspected some of them may have been drinking. I can remember very little of the first half of the game apart from the fact that incredibly Sunderland had the audacity to open the scoring and there was a feeling of disquiet in the stands. There was a lot of helpful advice given to the players such as “get some blood on your boots, Hunter”. For those of you who remember the great Norman Hunter this was not a request he was likely to refuse. I believe it was shortly after this that my sister decided this would be an excellent time to test out the bathroom facilities situated below the vast terraces. 

As a good brother I accompanied her, somewhat reluctantly, it has to be said.  The nameless boyfriend stayed where he was. When we had reached our destination, my sister decided to faint.  Its fair to say, of all things, I hadn’t expected this and did what most small boys of eleven would have done. I panicked. Luckily my panic attracted the kind and efficient St Johns Ambulance volunteers who soon scooped up my sister and led us through a gate at the bottom of the stand and took us pitch side. I seem to recall that she was on a trolley or stretcher.  Despite the fact I was concerned for my sister’s well being, it was a somewhat surreal experience walking along the pitch where my heroes such as Bremner, Charlton and Giles were playing.  We reached the player’s tunnel and made our way into a medical room where my sister was checked out. Fortunately all seemed well. Shortly afterwards the players passed by me for their half time break of oranges or in the case of Bremner a tot of brandy.  We were swiftly ushered back along the touchline and back into the stand. 

The rest of the evening, unsurprisingly is a bit of a blur.  I do however recall being lifted over lots of people so I could get a view!  The result of the match was 1-1 so I did at least experience my first Leeds goal. (Rod Belfitt for those who might be interested!).

Thus began my lifetime’s passion for Leeds United.  It’s a curse and at the moment, a blessing.

Jeremy Lineham

Alehouse – Bodle Street Green – More Than Just One Family’s Home

Constructed late 15th or early 16th century, Alehouse sits at the south western end of the village. It turns out to have been built as a new home, for a new era (The Tudor Period)…and how that house has endured, during good times and bad!

Life for the inhabitants of Bodle Street during the 15th century could not have been easy. The Hundred Years’ War had raged from 1337 right up to 1453, as the Plantagenets, Lancasters and the Valois fought for the throne of France. The 100 Years War saw England go into substantial debt, and final defeat of the English side by the House of Valois, collapsed national morale and led to a fear of invasion from France. The Kent and Sussex coastal regions were enduring attacks by French soldiers, and the English soldiers, tasked with defending the coast, but ill-provisioned by the Crown, took to raiding towns along the route to France, with their victims receiving no compensation. Not surprising then when one Jack Cade (not even a yeoman, but a scion of the rural poor, and a man of Sussex) led a rebellion against the government in 1450.

After the rebellion was put down, Cade fled towards the coast and folklore has it that he met his end just up the road from Bodle Street at what is now Cade Street near Heathfield, where a monument stands for him. Inspired by Cade, the Sussex yeomen brothers John and William Merfold organized their own rebellion against the deeply unpopular Henry VI. It is said that these popular local uprisings against the feeble Henry VI may have been the precursors to the next misery of the English 15th century, the Wars of the Roses. Now the Lancasters and Yorks slugged it out for dominance of England, until young Henry Tudor, emerged out of Welsh obscurity to head the House of Lancaster after its leading men had all become casualties of the war. Finally, when Henry crowned himself Henry VII in 1485, a more settled and prosperous period was to commence, and in that tentative mood of optimism, it seems the original owner of Alehouse had the house built.

At circa 185 feet above sea level, Alehouse sits on the crest of the hill, looking east to Ashburnham and west, south west towards Cowbeech and the Downs. The Rape of Hastings Architectural Survey (1981) concluded that “the building is competently framed using timbers which lack sapwood and are of slightly above average scantling”.

The house was designed originally as a three-bay dwelling, set on a north-south axis, measuring 13.05 metres x 5.90 metres (42’ 10” x 19’4”). It comprised a parlour at the northern end, a central single-bay open hall, and a service bay (sometimes referred to as the low end). This plan form is hierarchical in as much as there is a central hall, either side of which is a high end and a more utilitarian low southern end. At the high end, the room referred to as a parlour, would have provided private accommodation for the owner or senior occupant. The parlour was enclosed with wooden panelling, which apparently survived up to the circa 1970, when the space was opened out into the hall. Originally, the hall was open to the roof and had a central hearth. It was a communal or public space, where the occupants would have dined and socialised. The low end may have contained two rooms for storing and preparation of food and drink.

In the mid-16th century, the house was upgraded with the formation of a smoke bay at the lower end/southern end of the hall and the insertion of a first floor above the hall. Only in the early 17th century was the smoke bay replaced with a two-flue brick chimney. The current fireplace – though substantial – is described as having been “much mutilated and sized-down”. Also, in the 17th century, ceilings were inserted into the first-floor chambers and the upper area was fenestrated for the first time.

Alas, we have no evidence for who commissioned the house, or what may have been on the site previously, but it has been possible to identify the occupants from 1635 to the present! The first documented owner (1635-1640) was one Edward Avery, described as a yeoman (a man holding and cultivating a small, landed estate), who passed it to his son John. Then from circa 1667 the house was owned by the Barnett family and their kith, the Foords until 1780. The Isteds (also yeomen) then owned the property for 29 years, before selling to one Jess Smith who occupied the house 1810-1839, and it seems likely that his descendants retained the property until 1910.

So far, the Hawkins family have been privileged to live in Alehouse and Bodle Street Green for some 33 years, and it is to be hoped many others will come to live in it, long after we too are simply part of the building’s history.

Chrissie and Doug Hawkins

I Hate Running

I hate running, oh my god do I hate running!

Before the world went and imploded upon itself, I used to go to the gym over in Cross in Hand. Spinning classes (cycling without moving) was one of my favourite activities; as it’s done as part of a group which creates lots of banter that keeps you motivated. But all of that is now impossible.

So, after realising one day that there was a lot more of me that there ever used to be, I decided to take some action. And before anyone asks NO I’m not going to tell you what weight I got to. Download the “Couch to 5K” app and just follow the instructions and everything will be easy. Yeah right! Running on the roads in and around Redpale has its own very special set of challenges. To start with I have a few complaints for the council:

Firstly, why are the roads not flat? Can’t you get one of those massive tarmac rollers and flatten them …. please. When you’re struggling to run on the flat you can imagine the effect all the hills have  – Farthing Lane comes to mind – it’s just so demoralising.

Secondly, what’s with the condition of the road, they are absolutely terrible. So bad in fact that lakes and rivers have started to appear; they are like natural booby traps that can be a nightmare to avoid.

And then you have the general challenge with running on roads in the country – no pavements.

You’re happily (well maybe not so much of the happily) jogging along the road when screaming around the corner in front of you comes some large van, SUV or tractor.  Before you know anything about it you can find yourself in the bank covered in mud, water and who knows what. And with all the water around even the straight pieces of road can result in an early wash resulting from the splashback as they go through the road lakes.

So that’s it for now, from a demoralised (but not giving up) runner.

Redpale Rebel

Welcome to Bodle Street Green Crafting Corner!

Did you know there is a wealth of talent in this crafty corner of Sussex? We live in a small hamlet yet quietly hidden away are potters, wood-turners, artists, jewellery makers, sculptors, felters and people who love to sew.

If you are one of these crafty people we would love to hear about you. We invite you to write in telling us about your craft, whether it’s just a hobby or as a business. Please send your story through to and each month I will help The Bodle publish a crafty story.  (starting with my pottery experiences, next edition)

Jules Brown

May We Be Spared ..

During Lockdown I was invited to join the editorial team working on a book: “May We Be Spared to Meet on Earth: Letters of the Lost Franklin Arctic Expedition” 

Being a great great grand niece of Sir John Franklin, the leader of this expedition, this work was right up my street.

For those of you who don’t already know, Franklin set off in 1845 with two ships, Erebus & Terror, to complete the fabled North-West Passage, a short cut to the Orient between the Atlantic & Pacific oceans. This would be accomplished by sailing through Lancaster Sound & out via the Behring Strait.  The ships were considered well equipped for their day, the hulls were reinforced, they carried additional power with two steam engines & they had three years of provisions on board.  But after leaving their last port of call at the Whale Fish Islands, Disko in Greenland, they sailed into oblivion. 

When the time came & went for their expected return, first the Admiralty & then Jane, Lady Franklin, sent out search expeditions, but apart from finding their first winter quarters on Beechey Island along with the graves of three of the crew in the early 1850’s, there was no sign of the missing ships & men. Where had they gone?

Eventually news filtered through via John Rae of the Hudson’s Bay Company, who had heard tales of starving men & cannibalism from a group of Inuit.  His report, which included mention of cannibalism, sent shock waves through Victorian England & Jane Franklin in particular. But at least the area to be searched was finally revealed as King William Island (then known as King Willliam’s Land). All the searches so far had been in the wrong place. An expedition under Leopold McClintock finally reached the Island in 1859. Relics were brought back but only one document was found that gave any indication of what had happened. Buried in a tin canister in a cairn of stones, it contained two messages a year apart. The ships were beset in ice in September 1846 & still stuck two years later.   John Franklin had died on June 11th 1847, a total of 15 men & 9 officers had died & in April 1848 they deserted the ships & were heading south towards Back’s Fish River.

Since then, in spite of numerous searches, no other written records have been recovered, no log books or journals, nothing to flesh out the bare bones of the message in the stone cairn. The discovery of the two ships, Erebus in 2014 & Terror in 2016, bring some hope that perhaps, on Terror which is in deeper water & better preserved, some written evidence may be lurking undiscovered, possibly hidden in the cabin furniture of the ship.

But all along written documents have existed – letters written in the first few months of the expedition, as the ships made their way up the east coast, stopping off first at Stromness in the Orkneys, & finally at the Whale Fish Islands in Greenland. The Transport that accompanied them unloaded her stores, the last letters were hurriedly finished & placed in the mail bag which was, literally “sewed up”  and these letters to loved ones were delivered & cherished as the years passed. Scattered in Archives and private collections all over the world, they have now been brought together for the first time in this volume, and so we can follow these men as they set off with high hopes & enthusiasm.

Editing the letters, some 155 of them, and counting, has presented challenges. Each letter is transcribed & checked by two other editors. Some handwriting is easier to read than others, some letters are stained, some have bits missing, some only exist as photo-stat copies or as transcripts themselves. At times, three of us have pondered over a few words, enlarging & enhancing them in order to reach a conclusion. Sometimes it works, other times we are still uncertain. Most, but certainly not all, letters are written by the more literate officers.

In the months immediately preceding the Expedition, John Franklin wrote to James Ross “I regretted not seeing you at Lord Northamptons yesterday eve, was the  xxxx  xxxx  the cause?”  One of my fellow editors had written “terrible palpet” & passed it on to me. 

I looked at it for a while & transcribed “treakle possett”  which fitted nicely, as the following sentence referred to them both having colds. Treacle posset was a known remedy for colds & appears in an 1830’s recipe book (thank you google!)

John Franklin had an interesting way of abbreviating the word “anchorage” in his letters. Sometimes he spelt the word in full, but other times he used a symbol of an anchor with “ge” above it, and we aim to include all these in the text of the book.

Other abbreviations we agree in advance to silently expand, such as Ryl Soc to Royal Society and C of S to College of Surgeons.

Each letter is reproduced in full, and Notes at the end give the source for each letter & information on people mentioned or anything else which needs to be explained. The letters are divided into sections, beginning with the lead up to the Expedition, the few days before they sailed, their passage to Stromness & Greenland, and finally the “letters to the lost”.  These were sent out with the search expeditions & were subsequently returned undelivered. It is the wording in one of these letters, from a mother to her two sons, John & Thomas, both Able Seamen on Erebus, that give the title to the book: 

“… my dear children if it is the Lords will may we be spared to meet on earth if not God grant we may all meet around his throne to praise him to all eternity is the Prayers of your affectionate Mother Sarah Hartnell”

Mary Williamson

Tractors AND This and That! (Part 3)

I was so interested to see the first picture in the new The Bodle of ‘my mate’ Fred, it was so fitting to see Charles feature him.

Fred Creasey and I did quite a lot together from the time we came to live here in 1988, until he died in 1994. I took a picture of Fred by the barn at Thornyfold Farm/barn (now a house), where he came from originally. He used a flail in the barn here to beat the grain out of the husk which was a back breaking job for a ten year old but that’s what went on 100 years or more ago now. I persuaded him to give an evening show in 1990 to SEVAC at Cross In Hand village hall; thanks to the help of Ruth Ayres who has written a book on the village, she provided me with some pictures (everyone should really have a copy of this book) to illustrate his words. Added to this, I was able to obtain a list of steam engines owned by John Barnes and Sons thanks to the research done by the Road Locomotive Society (started in 1938). My father happened to be the Society’s ex secretary, president and was then the current librarian, a post he held for 30 years. With this in hand, I was able to track down a number of pictures of Barnes steam engines and I am still looking for more! If you have anything on this company or local transport of years gone by, I would love to copy the picture please. The show went very well, even if Fred couldn’t see the pictures on the screen well, due to his deteriorating eyesight, but I asked him lots of questions and we went through his life, which the audience loved. In his early days with John Barnes, who he worked for all his life, he drove the company’s McLaren steam tractor with its square superheated smokebox. Unfortunately he crashed it and turned it over on its side while coming back from Sidley to Bodle Street at some speed (approximately 10mph) one Saturday morning. The reason for the accident was that Fred needed to get back to play football in the afternoon! But that day it all went wrong. He was forgiven and lived to tell the tale, when he was loaned in 1931 by Barnes to drive for Star Brewery from Eastbourne and its June 1928 Foden Q type no. 13035 6 ton steam wagon. Its normal driver was seriously ill for nearly two months and as the mate was not a driver, Fred took over.

They regularly delivered the beer to The White Horse and others at the time, the Foden wagon lasted until 1940 and was scrapped in 1945. Fred was later a veteran of Dunkirk and became a drill sergeant but lost his voice and was seconded by the army back to John Barnes where he was needed as a driver. Here he took over Wallis & Steevens no.7662. But by 1943 it was replaced, as were others, by two lovely big Case LA tractors and the Fordson Standard N tractors the company had earlier. One of the Case LA’s ended up with the Keeleys and I feel survives today. Barnes then went on to buy Fordson E27Ns Major tractors from 1947. Following the success of this show, Fred and I travelled to Cornwall (on the train) and to Yorkshire, where we gave our show and 28 other places around the UK over the next two years. Nearly all the places we went to he had never visited in his 80 + years. He very much enjoyed it I think and he became a ‘super star’ in my field of work because he had actually used these venerable machines in working times and this was greatly respected by audiences. Perhaps the highlight for him was the show we gave to the NTET on the Pentonville Road, Kings Cross, London. We had time to kill, so I took Fred to MacDonald’s for dinner! It was amazing to watch him interact with a number of black guys on the premises, who were friendly to him and answered his many questions about their lives. As always, we had to rush back to catch the 10.44pm from Charing Cross and had to hail a taxi to make sure we were on time to get the Hastings train (line completed in 1842). I fell asleep on the train and Fred woke me up to say the train was pulling into Robertsbridge station, where I had parked the car and we needed to get off! At his age, it should have been me waking him up, not the other way around! We did so much more together in those six years that Jayne and I knew both Fred and Elsie. I was there when they took Fred away by ambulance from East Cottage; Bodle Street Green would never be quite the same without him. All I can say is keep warm!                            

Peter Love