When the Ouse is not the Ouse

When the Ouse is not the Ouse.
When the Ouse is not the Ouse.

A LITTLE way up the River Ouse is the village of Northease. This is what A A Evans, once Vicar of East Dean and Friston, had to say about it in his On Foot In Sussex: ‘It is now a farm with dwindled lands - in fact the whole district strikes one as dwindled.

‘The parishes are small, well wedged together, each with an ancient church and with roots deep in the past.

‘On one side in the short distance of the coastline and Lewes are a succession [of settlements]. Each of these has every sign of having been the centre of vigorous life and activity in earlier years.

Domesday indicates in its account of ploughlands, meadow land, salt pans and, not least, fisheries, larger populations and a fuller life than that of today.

‘The river was an artery of traffic far into Sussex and each of these riverside parishes had wharves, boats, barges....

‘The old name of the river was not the Ouse - that is but a generic title and is shared by ever so many other streams, mostly sluggish ones, in England. I believe the word ‘ooze’ is of the same root.

‘The old name of this river, and one much more expressive, was the Midewynd, that is, the middle and winding waters of the county; the name still lingers in Midwynd Bridge, now generally corrupted in common speech to Midland Bridge, in a parish higher up its course.’

So the Ouse is not the Ouse at all!