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.
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.
The Joadian Way Ramblette
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.
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).
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).
South Stoke Farm and St Leonard’s Church can be seen on the other side of the Arun.
In the cemetery, look out for “The Still Point” inscription by TS Eliot on the gravestone of John and Joanna Haggarty.