Floods - learning from our ancestors

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Having just walked up Chapel Hill to look down at the flooded Ouse valley from the golf club, I was reminded of the description of the same view 250 years ago by Thomas Woolgar.

He was admiring the view from Baldy’s Garden on the edge of what is now Cuilfail. These days we appear to have forgotten the natural cycle of flood-plains – flooded in winter, early grazing in spring and hay-making in summer. We have a lot to learn from our ancestors!

“... in the Summer season the Eye is entertained by the sight of numerous mowers who cut the Grass in the Brooklands and Meadows and of the reapers who gather the Corn on the higher ground, and in Winter when the Brookland and levels are overflown in a clear day the scene represents a perspective of a Lake or small Sea with little Islands in the mid of which are rising grounds called The Ries and in Frosty weather may besides the glassy surface be seen Skaiters on the Ice and Gunners after the wild fowl with other such objects of diversion.” (Thomas Woolgar).

An extract from volume 2 of ‘Spicilegia sive Collectanea ad Historiam ... Vicinae Lewensis’ ; by Thomas Woolgar (1761-1821), pp249 and 250. Hand-written manuscript held by Sussex Archaeological Society’s library in Barbican House, Lewes.

Mary Benjamin

Lewes