New map of South Downs, Hampshire and Sussex folklore released as part of South Downs for All project

The leaflet A Map of Folklore of the South Downs, Hampshire and Sussex has been produced as part of the South Downs for All project run by the Friends of the South Downs and largely financed by the National Lottery Heritage FundThe leaflet A Map of Folklore of the South Downs, Hampshire and Sussex has been produced as part of the South Downs for All project run by the Friends of the South Downs and largely financed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
The leaflet A Map of Folklore of the South Downs, Hampshire and Sussex has been produced as part of the South Downs for All project run by the Friends of the South Downs and largely financed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
​A map of folklore of the South Downs, Hampshire and Sussex has been put together by the Chichester Centre for Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction, based on research by Sussex folklorist Jacqueline Simpson with additional information by Worthing local historian Chris Hare.

A lifelong resident of Worthing, Jacqueline is one of Britain’s most pre-eminent folklorists. Among the many books she has written, Folklore of Sussex, first published in 1972, remains consistently popular and the ‘go-to’ book for further reading on the topic.

The leaflet A Map of Folklore of the South Downs, Hampshire and Sussex has been produced as part of the South Downs for All project run by the Friends of the South Downs and largely financed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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Chris said: "The aim of the project was to encourage children to learn about all aspects of the South Downs, including folklore. The children came from schools in Petersfield, Stedham, Bury, Slindon, Crawley, Worthing, Lancing and Brighton."

Bevis of Hampton was a giant who guarded the gates for the Earls of Arundel and lived in Bevis Tower. Picture: Steve Robards SR2304132Bevis of Hampton was a giant who guarded the gates for the Earls of Arundel and lived in Bevis Tower. Picture: Steve Robards SR2304132
Bevis of Hampton was a giant who guarded the gates for the Earls of Arundel and lived in Bevis Tower. Picture: Steve Robards SR2304132

Charlotte Latham, also a South Downs resident, is regarded as the 'Godmother' of English folklore studies. She wrote the first paper of the Folklore Society, West Sussex Superstitions Lingering in 1868, having taken to recording folklore after the death of her husband, the Rector of Fittleworth.

Most of the information in the leaflet was first published by the Chichester Centre for Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction at the University of Chichester. Visit southdownsforall.org.uk/folklore-map to download the map and www.sussexfolktalecentre.org for more information.

The map highlights key locations in West Sussex, East Sussex and Hampshire, as well as key dates, packed with information about associated folklore.

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Learn about the giant who guarded the gates for the Earls of Arundel, the treasure at Chanctonbury Ring, the Roman centurion that haunts Chichester Inn, the curse of Cowdray and the Knucker Hole at Lyminster.

An interpretation of the knucker dragon created by students from St Oscar Romero Catholic School on Goring beachAn interpretation of the knucker dragon created by students from St Oscar Romero Catholic School on Goring beach
An interpretation of the knucker dragon created by students from St Oscar Romero Catholic School on Goring beach

In East Sussex, there is the tale of Alfriston Church, the fairies at Burlow Castle, the haunting of the road to Jarvis Brook in Crowborough and the witch of Ditchling to discover.

Bramdean with its stone circle, the manor house at Hinton Ampner, the wishing stone at Selborne, the maze on St Catherine's Hill and the Round Table hanging in the Great Hall of Winchester Castle are all included for Hampshire.

The section on The Turning Year is divided into dates, starting on Twelfth Night, January 5, with wassailing in Duncton and many other Sussex villages, to ensure a good crop of apples.

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From a story Charlotte remembered being told as a child in the early 19th century comes the legend of the dancing midsummer skeletons at the Midsummer Tree in Broadwater. Folklorists and folk singers gather here at midnight on June 23, Midsummer's Eve, hoping to see the skeleton.

Ebernoe Horn Fair, near Petworth, in 2019. Picture: Steve Robards SR1918470Ebernoe Horn Fair, near Petworth, in 2019. Picture: Steve Robards SR1918470
Ebernoe Horn Fair, near Petworth, in 2019. Picture: Steve Robards SR1918470

July 25 is the date for the Ebernoe Horn Fair, where the village challenges one of its neighbours to a cricket match. The man who scores the most runs wins the head and horns of the ram being roasted for the village feast. More recently, the map tells us, the highlight for many is seeing the top-scoring batsman being tipped from a platform into a large plastic pool!