“We risk losing our historic sites”

JPCT 141013 Site of castle in Pulborough on Heritage at Risk list. Cllr John Wallace, Cllr Martin Dale and his mother Lorraine Dale. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 141013 Site of castle in Pulborough on Heritage at Risk list. Cllr John Wallace, Cllr Martin Dale and his mother Lorraine Dale. Photo by Derek Martin

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A parish councillor is ‘horrified’ to discover that many of South Downs’ historic sites are deemed at risk of being lost.

This comes after Heritage at Risk revealed its list of sites across England that are in danger of degradation due to neglect, decay or inappropriate development, several of which are South Downs locations.

Pulborough Parish Councillor Martin Dale said the South Downs is at risk of losing its history if residents do not step up and help maintain these iconic sites, including Pulborough’s Norman castle, Motte and Bailey.

“It’s sad to see, especially in the Horsham District, we’ve got some of the most iconic buildings at risk, decaying and crumbling - and they’re all disappearing essentially.”

Walking along a picturesque trail beyond Church Lane and into the village countryside, Mr Dale and fellow parish councillor John Wallace stopped to admire the 1,000-year-old Norman castle site that is situated on private land.

According to Heritage at Risk, the site is ‘generally unsatisfactory with major localised problems’.

Mr Wallace said: “I’m horrified to learn it’s on the list. It’s a very important local landmark.”

However, it’s not just the monument that may be eventually lost to Pulborough but its fascinating folklore too.

“There are rumours that there’s treasure buried under it,” said Mr Dale.

“So that obviously encouraged Victorian hunters to dig, and apparently someone even tried to mine it. If you look up there you’ll find a great big crater at the top. Also, some people have said it’s inhabited by fairies and someone was said to have witnessed a fairy funeral with a parade of them marching up to the top. It’s really fascinating.”

In a report it was revealed in the South East that 90 Grade I and II buildings, 275 scheduled monuments, 62 places of worship, 24 registered parks and gardens, one battlefield, 65 conservation areas and four protected wrecks are all at risk.

South Downs monuments on the list include Amberley Limeworks, Arundel’s Church of St Nicholas, and Storrington and Sullington’s bronze age Bowl Barrow.

“I’m quite shocked at just how many there are. There’s about 12 in the district and around 45 in the county. We’re losing our historic sites.”

Mr Dale said if people are interested in helping preserve these valuable sites, they can contact Heritage at Risk and get a volunteer army set up for next autumn. For details visit risk.english-heritage.org.uk