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.
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)
60th anniversary of South Downs philosopher at Stedham
Photo: CEM Joad in his Brains Trust heyday
Wednesday 10 April 2013
Stedham Exhibition of Philosophy and Brains Trust Evening on Sunday, April 7 will mark the 60th anniversary of the death of the South Downs philosopher ‘Professor’ CEM Joad, who lived at Stedham and died there in 1953, aged 61.
It was at his Stedham home that he wrote his last major work, The Recovery of Belief – A Restatement of Christian Philosophy.
Described as the ‘Patrick Moore of philosophy of his day’, he brought the subject down to earth for millions in his many books.
Organiser of the exhibition, Richard William Symonds, said: “His 50th anniversary in 2003 was held at South Stoke Farm, the South Stoke Festival of Thought, a beautiful hamlet nestled in the South Downs, but which had yet to achieve national park status at that time. “Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad – CEMJ – played no small part in helping to set up certain national parks in the late 1940s, but did not succeed with the South Downs, an area he deeply treasured and loved. If he was alive today, he would be absolutely delighted with its national park status.”
Mr Symonds said everyone was welcome to attend the event, which will be held in Stedham Village Memorial Hall. It starts at midday and will go on until 10pm.
The Rev Roger Williamson, vicar of St James, Stedham, has volunteered to act as question master in an informal, friendly re-enactment of the wartime programme The Brains Trust which was first broadcast on radio, before the advent of television, in January, 1941 and in which the ‘Professor’ became a national celebrity with his catch-phrase ‘It all depends what you mean by…’.
“He became what I would call the Patrick Moore of philosophy in his day, popularising the subject for millions and writing more than 100 books on the subject. “The Brains Trust was the pioneering forerunner to what we now know today as Question Time and Any Questions.”
The day will begin with a welcome by Ruth Joad, granddaughter of CEM Joad. There will be a short walk, the Joadian Trail, at 3pm which will take in Meadow Hills, Joad’s Stedham home. Choral Evensong takes place at St James’ Church at 6pm when the Rev Williamson’s sermon will be based around Recovery of Belief. The re-enactment of The Brains Trust evening will be from 7.30pm-9pm.
Described as “probably the most beautiful short walk in the South Downs National Park”, the Joadian Way Ramblette will take 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 will pass 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. On arrival back at Amberley Station by 12.30 (approx), there will be an option for lunch at the Riverside Restaurant by Houghton Bridge.
All are warmly welcome. Good walking boots are strongly recommended as it is likely to be muddy in places.
For more information, please contact Richard by email: email@example.com or text: 07540 309592
Richard W. Symonds
The Joad Society
N.B. “The Joad Exhibitionette” – Arundel Museum – Friday April 7 to Friday April 14 2017
THE JOADIAN WAY is one of the most beautiful walks to be discovered in the South Downs National Park – a circular walk from Amberley Station to South Stoke and return.
The once-famous C.E.M. Joad – philosopher, writer and wartime ‘Brains Trust’ celebrity – walked this route regularly to South Stoke Farm, where he wrote many of his 100+ books. He died Easter 1953, of cancer, aged 61.
There is a Joad Archive Research Collection at West Sussex Record Office in Chichester and the Arundel Museum.
THE JOADIAN WAY
Distance : 5.3m (8.5k) – 2 hour walk (round-trip).
Terrain : Grass footpath and track (sometimes muddy and slippery). Walking boots strongly advised. A few hills.
Where To park : Amberley Station (off the B 2139)
1. Head out of Amberley Station Car Park, immediately cross the road and walk left towards Houghton Bridge, passing the Turnpike Toll House.
The small village, called Houghton Bridge, is located on the banks of the river Arun and is home to, rather confusingly, Amberley Working Museum and Amberley train station.
2. Half-way across the bridge cross the road at the footpath signpost, and follow the path to the river.
3. Follow the grass path along the river, then after going over a stile turn left by the disused lock (over another stile). Walk to the end of this narrow, hedged footpath which is likely to be muddy and slippery in places.