Slideshow: Southease - picture-book pretty

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FOR A tiny hamlet, Southease boasts a surprisingly large collection of interesting buildings, structures and landscapes to investigate.

There’s the church dating from AD 966, the Grade II listed Victorian swing bridge crossing the River Ouse and the undulating contours of the South Downs.

Southease Village

Southease Village

As you whiz down the C7, about half way between Lewes and Newhaven, a sign directs you down a sharp turning and you enter a village so beautiful it should be in a film.

In fact if Godric’s Hollow (the village where Harry Potter’s parents lived) were real, it would look like this.

Classic and historic Sussex architecture dominates in Southease, with flint stone walls and weather boarding on display, single track roads wind through the village and sheep graze in among the culverts criss-crossing the valley.

To your right is Southease Church, one of only three round towered churches in Sussex, with the other two being in Lewes and Piddingoe. When the Sussex Express visited, the graveyard was covered with a carpet of snowdrops.

According to the Southease village website, the church was much larger once, had an extended chancel and probably two aisles or transepts. Both were demolished, perhaps at the time of the Black Death.

When you visit, look out for the Norman windows, a 14th century door, a 16th century porch, an Elizabethan altar table, and Jacobean altar rail, pulpit and pews. The tower houses two bells, one dated 1280 and is the third oldest in Sussex.

Glance upwards and you will notice the 13th century wall paintings, uncovered between 1934-35.

Even the organ dates from 1790 and there are only a few small organs of this type still in existence.

King Edgar granted the church to Hyde Abbey in Winchester – the original charter is in the British Museum.

If you walk down from the church and head towards the river, you will see a wrought iron bridge built in 1880, which was granted Grade II listed building status by English Heritage.

It replaced an earlier wooden structure which was needed after the River Ouse south of Lewes was canalised between 1791 and 1795 to form the Lower Ouse Navigation.

The bridge was designed to pivot in the centre to allow the passage of boats.

A flourishing herring fishing industry was recorded in Southease in the Domesday Book (1086).

It was the largest in the district at the time, catching more fish than Brighton.

Today the village boasts a train station on the other side of the Ouse. It was opened in September 1906.

The South Downs Way runs through the village too, giving cyclists and walkers the chance to enjoy the spectacular countryside between Lewes and Southease and then getting home on the train.

Interestingly the body of Sussex writer Virginia Woolf was found at Asham Wharf, on the east bank of the Ouse, to the north of the bridge, after she committed suicide.

The village enjoys several community events during the year, including the Spring Plant Fair on Monday May 7, Open Gardens on Saturday June 16 and Sunday June 17, as well as a Chilli Day at a date to be confirmed.