Described as “possibly the most beautiful short walk in the South Downs National Park”, the Joadian Way Ramblette took place the weekend before Easter – Saturday April 8 – to mark the 64th Anniversary of South Downs philosopher and writer C.E.M. Joad (1891-1953), who became famous in the wartime Brains Trust.
Starting from Amberley Station at 11am, the short walk passes through North Stoke near the South Downs Way (with its unique red Telephone Box/Information Point), and then on to South Stoke where Joad wrote many of his 100+ books in the 1940’s.
Distance : 5.3m (8.5k) – 2 hour walk (round-trip).
Terrain : Grass footpath and track (muddy and slippery in parts). Good walking boots strongly advised. A few hills.
Where to park : Amberley Station (off the B 2139)
1. Start from the Heritage Trail sign on the wall at Amberley Station, with the Amberley Working Museum opposite. This small village, called Houghton Bridge, is located on the banks of the river Arun and is home to, rather confusingly, both Amberley museum and train station.
2. Head out of the Amberley Station and immediately cross the busy road – with care. Walk left towards Houghton Bridge [a walk right would go Amberley Village – a good walk from the station].
Don’t miss the small signpost of the Chichester-Horsham Literary Trail to the right [Ref: “West Sussex Literary Trail” by Peter Anderson & Keith McKenna – Per-Rambulations 2007].
Here it is best to do a little ‘imagineering’ and go back in time to 1814 – over 200 years ago. Imagine no trains, no cars and no restaurants – just boats and a bridge over the river. The only means of crossing the river was the bridge – thus the Toll House to charge for crossing it.
Houghton Bridge was built in 1813, with John Davis being the first Toll “Keeper”. He started work on April 1 1814 and received eight shillings per week.
Turnpike tolls raised £70 to £80 per year. The charge of two shillings was made “for every 4-wheeled Wagon, Wain, Cart drawn by 8 horses”; two shillings for “Coach, Chariot, Landau, Berlin chaise, Curricule, Calah, Hearse or other such carriage drawn by six horses or other beasts”; and “for every drove of calves, swine, sheep or lambs sum of 10d [pence] per score”.
“For any use on a Sunday – Double Toll”.
The bridge itself was rebuilt in 1875 by landowners which included the Duke of Norfolk (Arundel Castle) and Lord Leconfield (Petworth House).
4. Carefully go half-way across the bridge, and cross the road at the footpath signpost on the other side. Then follow the path to the river.
5. Follow the grass path along the river – “The Riverbank Walk”. Keep a look out for the different varieties of wildlife which frequent the River Arun throughout the year – as well as the occasional fisherman
After going over a stile, immediately turn left over another stile (by the small lock). Walk to the end of this narrow, hedged footpath which is often very muddy and slippery. Take extra care here. The road will finally be reached
Then come back the same way, and just after the red telephone box take the signposted footpath to the right.
9. The narrow footpath brings you out on to the grand vista of the South Downs.
Go straight across the field to the wooded area (any cows, sheep or horses therein are likely to be very curious).
10. Follow the footpath through the woods and cross over the Gurkha Bridge
11. Keep along the path, noticing the Knobbled Tree on the left (easily missed!)
Continue walking until the river is reached. Turn left after the turnstile, and walk along the river towards the the white bridge
South Stoke Farm and St Leonard’s Church can be seen on the other side of the Arun.
12. Cross over the Bridge
And follow the track into South Stoke Village.
13. Pass the Old Rectory and St Leonard’s Church
In the cemetery, look out for “The Still Point” inscription by TS Eliot on the gravestone of John and Joanna Haggarty.
This author came to understand a little more about “The Still Point” at the Knobbled Tree (see Point 11.).
Walk on to the Chapel Barn and South Stoke Farm [from where CEM Joad wrote many of his 100+ books, and is the farm in his posthumous work of fiction “Folly Farm”].
14. Return to Amberley Station/Houghton Bridge by walking back to North Stoke. At its Telephone Box/Information Point turn right, then keep walking along the road running parallel with the railway line towards the station.
15. Pass the Chalkpit tunnel (from where scenes of the James Bond film “A View to a Kill” were shot – starring Roger Moore and Grace Jones)
Pass the Old School House to the right
and the Old Cannon to the left (down by the river)
“I am convinced that…they will be plunged into war without their will. I like Germany; I like German cities; and I like the German people. But I believe that the rulers of the German people are deliberately and cynically preparing to hurl them into a wicked and a desperate war of conquest…The Germans cannot prevent that war, because they do not believe it is coming. The British could prevent that war if, before it is too late, they could be really convinced that it is coming. That is why I want to convince them that war is coming, because I want to prevent that horrible war”
By DAVID ROBERTSON
Welcome to the fifth issue of Solas, the magazine that continues to grow and develop! This month, we have the usual range of articles, from politics and ethics, to arts and culture. The main theme is on bioethics, which for some people, at first glance, might not seem all that important until you realise that it really is a matter of life and death.
Recently, I have been reading a fascinating old book by the atheist philosopher-turned-Christian, C.E.M Joad, The Recovery of Belief (published in 1952). He asserts that the “progressive” atheistic view of humanity results in an arrogance and hubris that will inevitably be self-destructive. “Having raised himself by dint of his own efforts from the level of the animals, he will probably continue to evolve into something greater than himself (Nietzsche, it will be remembered, was still praying of the Superman). Man, in fact, is the highest expression of the spirit of the universe, a spirit which will one day, if it has not done so y et, raise itself in and through his agency to the level of the divine. God, in fact, as Alexander suggested, is waiting to be evolved by man’s efforts. When he arrives, he will be man’s handiwork and man’s descendant.”
It has ever been thus.
It is a short road from the temptation of the devil in the garden – “you shall be as gods” – to the modern arrogance of a humanity which thinks we are the top of the evolutionary tree and can only get better.
Joad became a Christian after observing the inhumanity of humanity in World War Two. The horrors of that war were caused and facilitated by philosophies which believed in the inevitable progress of humanity, the bankruptcy of religion and the emergence of Superman. Another atheist philosopher, John Gray, cites Lewis Namier: “Hitler and the Third Reich were the gruesome and incongruous consummation of an age which, as none other, believed in progress and felt assured it was being achieved.”
After both World Wars, that turn-of-the-century confidence in the inevitable goodness and progression of humanity took a hit. But it appears that as we move on we forget our history and so seem doomed to repeat it. Christians are the ultimate humanists because we recognise that humanity without God becomes inhuman. As humans exchange the glory of the God in whose image we are made, for the lie that we shall be as gods, we end up as dehumanised animals.
An Australian has travelled more than 10,000 miles to celebrate the life and times of philosopher and previous South Downs resident CEM Joad on the 60th anniversary of his death.
The incredible journey was made a reality when Australian Greg Devine read an article published by Ifield resident, Richard Symonds, called ‘The Forgotten Christian Philosopher’ about the celebrated author, Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad.
“Greg has been described as Australia’s keenest CEM Joad researcher and, perhaps somewhat inevitably, came across my name during his research on the internet,” said the 59-year-old.
Mr Devine read that the walk from Amberley Station to South Stoke was probably the most beautiful walk on the South Downs – a walk CEM Joad himself took many times – and so he decided to get in touch with Mr Symonds and experience the route firsthand.
On July 28-30, the Australian from Redcliffe (a bay-side town north of Brisbane) travelled to the UK with his wife and a close friend.
“Richard and I hit it off immediately, chatting all the way,” said the 56-year-old.
“He showed me the historic North Stoke church. We then proceeded to the South Stoke Farm, stopping off at St Leonard’s Church.
“Richard then pointed out the building and window at which CEM Joad sat writing many of his books.”
CEM Joad wrote and edited more than 100 books, pamphlets, articles and essays, including ‘An Old Countryside for New People’ and ‘Folly Farm’, until his death in 1953.
He most notably appeared on The Brains Trust, a BBC Radio wartime discussion programme.
“Joad’s writings speak to me of a man who searched earnestly for the truth. He’s inspired me to use language in lively and engaging ways,” said Mr Devine.
The Australian party also visited ‘Meadow Hills’ in Stedham – the former home of CEM Joad. The owners, Sarah and Martin Large, kindly welcomed the tourists.
Mr Devine said: “The garden had become overgrown but Sarah was valiantly working to restore it. She is convinced that Meadow Hills was the location of the farm and house described in Joad’s book ‘Folly Farm’.”
The 60th anniversary of CEM Joad’s death was marked at the Stedham Village Memorial Hall in April.