Living and being creative in Rosemary Sutcliff’s house in Walberton, Sussex

Much is written about the ‘community’ and ‘interactivity’ of social networks and blogs, not all of it convincing. But my hope when I started working more vigorously last year on this blog was that, over time, there might evolve a sense of connectedness if not community around Rosemary Sutcliff‘s work and life. So thank you those of you who regularly comment here, or tweet me, or retweet something. And all manner of fascinating posts turn up on the ‘You Write’ tab. Thus today it was a delightful surprise to read a post from Stephen Walby:

We live in Rosemary’s old house in the lovely Sussex village of Walberton. Rosemary lived here until she died in 1992. She is very fondly remembered here, having been an active member of village life. Our next door neighbours daughter remembers coming to the house to help out and many other villagers have stories to tell, we have heard how Rosemary would welcome groups of children from the village school for talks.  

The cover photograph for Blue Remembered Hills was taken in the garden, last year we replaced the dovecote in her memory.

The property includes a flint cottage which I think was once a barn/pigsty. In Rosemary’s day her housekeeper lived here. As a photographer I use this as an office studio, and we are aware of a creative atmosphere in the house, a legacy of Rosemary’s that we continue.

One day we hope that English Heritage will see fit to honour her memory with a blue plaque.

I responded:

How wonderful to read this. I know the house well, having spent many a day there from age about 6. Latterly I used to come to stay with Rosemary with my two small children. We, or at least they, were terrorised by her little dogs! I am delighted you have replaced the dovecote in her memory-she treasured it. And she would have been so delighted that creativity continued at Swallowshaw.

Actually her handyman-driver lived in the flint cottage, as I recall. The housekeeper(s) always lived in the house, partly so there was someone around if Rosemary (who was severely disabled) needed help.

It would be wonderful if you could get some of the villagers to post their stories here too. And we should pursue the blue plaque!

Rosemary Sutcliff's garden in 2011 (post her death in 1992)

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