Culture and history at Uckfield’s twin town

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CULTURE and history were on the agenda when 17 members of Uckfield and District Twinning Association spent the Bank Holiday weekend in Uckfield’s French twin town of Arques-la-Bataille. But there was also fun including a hilarious concert of classical music and plenty of eating and drinking.

Glad to be on firm ground after a stormy Newhaven-Dieppe crossing, on Saturday afternoon the group visited the Renaissance Chateau de Mirosmenil where they saw re-creations of the lifestyle of 19th century French writer Guy de Maupassant who was born in the chateau. For garden enthusiast and member Gill Rogers the highlight of this visit was the magnificent walled garden or potager. She said: “I thought that the combination of flowers and vegetables in the same space was simply stunning.”

In the evening the group attended the prestigious Academie Bach festival which takes place each year in Arque’s imposing Gothic church. After a serious start, the concert developed into a surreal comedy. Group leader David Sudbery noted that programme notes suggested Italian baroque reinterpreted by Buster Keaton! “It was difficult to imagine, but turned out to be hilarious. Think Rowan Atkinson at the Olympic opening ceremony.”

On Sunday the group joined French hosts for a guided tour of Rouen. Former St Philips Primary School head Mary Brentnall said: “I learned a lot, and it gave me a real chance to practise my French.”

Monet’s famous series paintings of Rouen Cathedral came mind on Monday when the group went for a coastal walk between villages of Pourville and Varengeville. Along the route were panels showing, at the exact point where they were painted, reproductions of such paintings as Cabane du Douanier and L’eglise de Varengeville. Outside Varengeville church, French hosts provided visitors with a picnic – dejeuner sur l’herbe!

Links between Arques and Uckfield flourish but Uckfield’s long connection with German twin town Quickborn is not neglected. Last weekend Quickborn Town Council deputy chairman Joern Kruse, visited Uckfield as a guest of the Association. The following weekend Francis Wallace represents Uckfield at Quickborn’s annual Eulenfest. Information from David Sudbery on: 01825 733318 or email: davidsudbery@hotmail.com