Where the ale flowed and the midden rose high

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The East Sussex village of Halland once had (maybe still has) a ‘big house’.

The hospitality at the principal seat of the Pelham family from 1595 until 1768, was lavish enough to prompt the diarist Thomas Turner to put pen to paper:

“The ale was strong at Halland House, and it flowed as freely there as it did in other old halls, in what are called the days of the “fine old English gentleman”. Many a bout we had of it.

“I may safely assert that when we have met in the hall upon any occasion, political or otherwise, not one of us has returned home sober.”

The building was dismantled at the end of the 18th century and used as a source of building materials when the Pelhams deserted Halland for Stanmer.

Local legend asserts that Terrible Down, near Halland, was the scene of one of England’s ‘forgotten’ battles, when fugitives from Henry III’s beaten army at the Battle of Lewes turned to face their pursuers and were massacred.

Another version is that Alfred the Great clashed with an army of marauding Danes. Both tales describe with relish that the slaughter was so great the combatants waded ‘ankle deep’ in blood and that the streams ran red.

In fact, Terrible Down is rather a terrible-dome down because its name actually originated as tod hyll, the turd-hill or midden.

So there you have it.