How the weather keeps changing – dry, wet, cold, warm, snow, gales, whatever next. Anyway we’ve found ourselves with another sprinkling of snow – not the normal wet stuff, but the dry powdery kind. With the low temperatures and strong winds it has been blown into drifts. It felt quite slippery when driving along the lane pictured below, but I was amazed by how much more slippery it was on foot and was only going to get more so as the temps dropped.
Walking along a field boundry out of the wind I was almost basking in the sun, couldn’t believe how warm it was. As I walked along the virtually snowless path I could see ahead of me a mass of snow drifting out across the field of crops.
The drifts were the best part of 3 foot deep, not bad for the south of England. Although the drifts looked like they would be fun to dive into I thought against this idea for 2 reasons, the first I wanted to photograph them and the second even though they looked very soft they had quite a hard crust on them and I’m a bit too old to play such games. I spent nearly an hour exploring the drifts fascinated by all the patterns created by the wind. It was quite startling the difference in temperature in the exposed drift away from the pathway. I have included several images I took showing various patterns created by the elements. This first image, pictured below, the pattern reminds me of an Artex type of effect now very much out of fashion. I would love to see a slow motion video of just how the wind creates the patterns, because looking at it I would assume that the wind would just smooth the sides and have no ripples.
A crop of the previous image
A couple of feet from this abundance of snow was these Gorse flowers braving the cold. This weather must be causing confusion for both plant life and animals.
The following day I ventured into West Dean and decided to take a few images of the Church of St. Andrew. St Andrew, West Dean, was a Saxon foundation, and Saxon door arches may be seen in its flint, stone and brick-built walls. Despite this the interior of St. Andrew’s seems modern and light, which is not what you would expect from the outside. A memorial stone set into the wall not far from the door explains why:
On the 26th November 1934 the church was almost completely destroyed by fire. According to a report in The Times newspaper the following day the Fire Brigade “were practically helpless owing to lack of water, West Dean being in an area which has suffered severely from a deficiency of water owing to the droughts of the last two summers.”
The same report records that a “very fine Elizabethan full-sized recumbent figure is badly damaged, and a life-size recumbent figure of the late Mr. Willie James [a former owner of West Dean Park] by Sir Goscombe John has been destroyed”; his monument was later restored by his son, Edward James; the recumbent figure of Richard Lewknor was never replaced, although the remainder of the monument including kneeling figures of his son and grandson, also both Richard, remains.
In the article the Vicar (Rev. H.E. Lyne) described how the fire was first spotted, “Miss V. Smith, of West Drayton, saw smoke and flames when she was practising at the organ in the church. She immediately dashed for help, but the roof and everything was ablaze in about 20 minutes. I was out at the time, and did not get back till the roof had fallen in.”
As should be obvious from the memorial stone the church was restored, according to the Chichester Observer (Wednesday, 15th April 1936), “The restoration of St. Andrew’s Parish Church, West Dean, which was destroyed by fire in November, 1934, was completed last week and the dedication of the new building took place on Saturday morning in time for the Easter services.”