Monday, 21 May 2018

Ditchling Beacon Circular walk 21st May 2018

GPX File Here
Viewranger File here

On Monday the 21st May 2018 I left home early and 1 hr 40 mins and 70 odd miles I arrive at Ditchling Beacon car park , a £3 charge applies (Free if you are a NT member).

Ditchling Beacon is the third-highest point on the South Downs in south-east England, behind Butser Hill (270 m; 886 ft) and Crown Tegleaze (253 m; 830 ft).

I leave the car park and walk off to West along the path.

I take a detour up to the trigpoint on Ditchling Beacon.

You can't help but stand in awe at the vistas that open up around you across The South Downs.

I pass the sign for Ditchling Down.

Ditchling Common once the King's land as part of the Saxon Manor, is now a Country Park (designated as such in 1974) north of Ditchling and lies between Haywards Heath and Lewes to the east of Burgess Hill in West Sussex.

South Downs Way marker (Winchester to Eastbourne)

I now have made my way to the Jack and Jill Windmills, I take a short diversion from my route to walk around them, unfortunately not open today.

Jack is the taller of the two lovely windmills and it is a private house.
Jill Mill is open to the public on most Sundays during the summer.
It was Jill Mill which incredibly was dragged to its present site by Oxen after being sold in 1852. Previously the mill had been located in Brighton, where it was known as Lashmar's New Mill.
Jill Mill has now been restored to full working order by the Jack and Jill Windmills Society.

Jack Windmill

Jill Windmill, currently being renovated

I leave the windmills behind head back uphill and take a path on my right  passing through New Barn Farm and past a golf course.

I stop here out of sight and swap my jeans for shorts, its getting hot today.

Looking back to Jack Windmill

After much walking on farmland, I can see Brighton loom in the distance with its British Airways i360 towering high.

Now I approach Chattris War Memorial, been looking forward to seeing this.

The Chattri is a war memorial sited 500 feet (150 m) above Brighton on the South Downs, and is accessible only by bridleway. It stands on the site where a number of Indian soldiers who fought for the British Empire were cremated during the First World War. The structure has Grade II listed status, reflecting its architectural and historic importance. In 2017, as part of the 100th anniversary of World War I, the site of the Chattri was dedicated as a Fields in Trust Centenary Field because of its local heritage and significance.

India was part of the British Empire during the First World War, and more than 800,000 Indian soldiers fought for the Allied Powers. During the four years of fighting, thousands of wounded combatants were brought to Britain to be treated in makeshift military hospitals. Three were established in Brighton; one was the town's famous royal palace, the Royal Pavilion. King George V is said to have decreed that Indian soldiers were to be treated at the Pavilion, apparently believing that the flamboyant Indo-Saracenic building would provide familiar surroundings. In December 1914, 345 injured soldiers were transported to Brighton by train and were transferred to the hospitals. The King and Queen, Mayor of Brighton, Chief Constable of Brighton and other dignitaries visited frequently, and careful arrangements were made at the Royal Pavilion to provide for the different dietary and other cultural requirements of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.

Although the great majority of soldiers recovered from their injuries, some died. The 21 Muslim men who died were taken to the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, Surrey, and buried in accordance with Islamic tradition in a new cemetery. The bodies of 53 Hindus and Sikhs were taken to a remote location high on the South Downs above Brighton, where a ghat (funeral pyre) was built so they could be cremated and their ashes scattered in the English Channel. This funeral rite was again carried out in line with religious custom. In total, 18 men who were treated at the Royal Pavilion died, ten of whom were cremated on the ghat. (The 56 other victims died at the Kitchener Hospital—now Brighton General Hospital—or a temporarily converted school at York Place.)

In August 1915, soon after the last cremations at the ghat site, a lieutenant in the Indian Medical Service and the Mayor of Brighton, Sir John Otter, planned the establishment of a memorial to the soldiers who had died in Brighton. Lt Das Gupta made the proposal, but Otter took on the project almost single-handedly; after leaving his position as Mayor he chaired Brighton's Indian Memorials Committee. In December 1915 he made a proposal to the India Office for a memorial on the ghat site and another in Brighton town centre; Sir Austen Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for India, agreed this in February 1916.  In July of that year, the land on which the ghat stood, and the immediate area around it, was transferred from the Marquess of Abergavenny to the ownership of Brighton County Borough. At the same time, the India Office agreed to share the cost of building and erecting the memorial with Brighton Corporation (the forerunner of the present Brighton and Hove City Council), on the understanding that the Corporation would be responsible for the town centre memorial.

Funds were raised during 1917. After delays caused by the need to dedicate all available resources to the war effort, in April 1918 a Manchester-based building firm was awarded the contract to build the memorial. The main building material was marble; its arrival from Sicily was delayed by more than a year, but building work started in mid-1920.

The Chattri was unveiled on 1 February 1921 by Edward, Prince of Wales.

By the 1930s, the memorial had fallen into disrepair. The caretaker had died, nobody had replaced him, and the cottage had been demolished. The India Office, which had received many complaints about The Chattri's condition despite the Brighton Corporation having taken full responsibility for its upkeep, liaised with the Corporation and the Imperial War Graves Commission in an attempt to encourage action. Between them, they planned a new maintenance policy and agreed to reduce the amount of surrounding land belonging to the memorial; in 1920 a 2-acre (0.81 ha) area had been created around it. The Second World War intervened, though, and the whole area was requisitioned by the Army. By the end of the war, The Chattri was covered with bullet holes after being used as a target by troops practising their rifle shooting. After the war, the War Office agreed to pay for repairs, and The Chattri was restored to its original condition. Starting in 1951, the Royal British Legion undertook annual pilgrimages to the memorial, and also contributed to its upkeep. Although the pilgrimages ceased in 1999, the Sikh community has led a similar annual ceremony each year since 2000.

The Chattri was listed at Grade II by English Heritage on 20 August 1971. 

The Chattri was built at the exact location where the funeral pyres were constructed for the cremation of the 53 soldiers.

The plinth bears an inscription in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, the text of which was prepared by Sir John Otter:

I make my way up to the noisy A27 where I turn and walk along a track for a bit passing what looks like a travellers site.

I am now heading back up hill and heading back , I can see the Chattri on my left.

I walk along an overgrown path, full of nettles I wish I had my jeans on now!

A Whitethroat I believe
I head out onto Beacon road, thankfully only a short stretch before taking a path on my right and through a wooded area.

But just before I enter the wood, I can see Brighton and Hoves FC Ground The Withdean Stadium below me.

I leave the wood cross back over Beacon Road and through some more farmland heading back uphill to the Beacon.

I make it back to the car park after 9.2 miles of walking. The ice cream van is here now, so I grab a Feast lolly and take in the views.